Without even its own ground, Ravana stands tallest in Haryana village
By Jaideep Sarin
With its record-breaking height, this Ravana may have made national and international headlines and attracted lakhs of people in the past few years just to have a look. But the demon-king’s effigy in Haryana’s Barara village has to contend with a ground reality — it does not even have its own Dushhera ground where it goes up in smoke.
Barara village, some 60 km from Chandigarh, has acquired unique fame because of the height of the Ravana effigies that have been erected here in the past nearly a decade.
This year, too, the Ravana, weighing a few tonnes, stands tall at 210-feet — the height of a 20-storey building.
It takes three cranes, and a lot of human effort and material, to get the demon-king to stand up and be ready for the Dushhera festivities. The Hindu festival, that marks the victory of good over evil, falls on October 11.
So, what does it take to put in place the tallest Ravana in the country? Take a look at the stats.
It weighs 60 quintal or 6,000 kg. Among the things used in its making are 3,500-kg of iron, 1,500-kg of bamboo, 250-kg of fibre, 100-kg of paper, 100-kg of cloth, 300-kg of jute and ropes, 200-kg of gum and over 100-kg of fireworks and electrical material.
It takes up to 150 artisans, coming from different parts of the country, and nearly eight months of work to get the Ravana effigy into shape and size. The effigy costs nearly Rs 25 lakh ($375,000) to make.
The force behind the tallest Ravana is the Shri Ramleela Club in Barara village, located on the Ambala-Jagadhri highway, which is headed by local landlord Tejinder Singh Chauhan.
“A lot of time, money and effort goes into the making of the tallest Ravana. We have to use cranes to lift it. It is a tough process,” Chauhan, who is the guiding force behind the tallest Ravana, told IANS.
Starting in 2007, when the first tall Ravana stood at 151-feet, the committee has been increasing the height every year. It was 171-feet in 2008, 175-feet in 2009 and 210 feet last year.
The Ravana from Barara village has featured five times in the Limca Book of Records.
The height has not been increased from 210-feet in the last three years as the committee feels that this is the maximum that it can do with the present resources available to it.
“There is not even a regular Dushhera ground here where the Ravana can be erected. This land is privately owned. Much more can be done if we have a dedicated ground,” Chauhan pointed out.
Behind the record-breaking Ravana is the effort of artisans from Saharanpur district in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, all of them Muslims, who are brought here by the committee.
The Hindu festival of Dushhera or Vijay Dashmi symbolises the victory of good over evil — to mark the triumph of Hindu god Lord Rama over demon-king Ravana.
The Ravana here is set on fire with a remote control device instead of the traditional bow and arrow as the arrow is unlikely to reach the structure’s chest height.
The Dushhera festivities in Barara are a five-day affair with popular singers, poets and other performers lined up for each day.
“Demon king Ravana may be the most hated thing in the Hindu festive season, but this Ravana attracts lakhs of people every year. People start coming days before Dushhera to have a look,” Sanjay Kumar, a local youth, told IANS.
The love for the record-breaking Ravanas started in 1987 for Chauhan when he got a 20-feet high Ravana made in the village. Even though the whole effort digs deep into his pocket and he has been forced to sell part of his land to keep up with his expensive devotion to this cause, Chauhan refuses to give up.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)