Jammu: Muslim artisans from Uttar Pradesh are back in Jammu along with their Hindu counterparts to erect effigies of demon king Ravana and his brothers for the upcoming Dussehra.
Over 50 workers, all from a village in Meerut district, reached Jammu on September 23 on the invitation of Shri Sanatam Dharam Sabha Geeta Bhawan.
“We have been coming to Geeta Bhawan for the past 38 years to make the effigies for Dussehra, catering to different parts of Jammu and Kashmir besides Leh in Ladakh,” head contractor Mohd Rehan told PTI.
The main Dussehra function will be held at Parade ground in the heart of Jammu.
Effigies of Ravana, Meghnada, and Kumbhakarna will also be burnt at several other places in the city including Akhnoor, R S Pura, and Bishna near the International Border, Gandhi Nagar, near the Railway station, Channi and Sainik colony to mark the triumph of good over evil.
These craftsmen are working on dozens of massive bamboo structures having height of more than 50 feet.
Rehan said all the workers are proud of working together. Besides a dozen Muslims, there are over 40 Hindu artisans that include Harijan and Kashyap Thakur workers.
“We work together and share our meals without any discrimination. ‘Mazhab nahi sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna’… we are living by the example of it,” he said, lauding the temple management for their trust in them.
Rehan’s son-in-law Mohd Giyasuddin said artisans have been coming to Jammu for generations and his grandfather Mohd Sirajuddin was also one of them.
“We are keeping this tradition alive. The people of Jammu warmly welcome us and we also eagerly wait for this opportunity. Some of our (Hindu) co-workers also use this visit to pay obeisance at the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine,” he said.
“There is no place for hatred… it is a form of art and anyone can possess it. Last year, we also dispatched effigies to Srinagar,” he said.
Giyasuddin said most of these artisans do other works for a living back home for the rest of the year.
Jasbir, who is accompanied by his brother and son, said they have been working as a team for decades and have not faced any issues.
“I have been coming here with Rehan since 1998. Our other teams are working in Delhi and Punjab,” he said.
Lilu Kumar said both Hindus and Muslims are a single family. “I have been coming here with my Muslim brothers for the last 25 years. We are working round-the-clock to meet the deadline.”