Salim Khan, a resident of Rajasthan's Hindaun
Salim Khan, a resident of Rajasthan's Hindaun Image Credit: Social media/ANI

Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh: Kanpur is gearing up to celebrate the Hindu festival of Dussehra on Tuesday. Artists are working round-the-clock to ensure that the effigies needed at the parade ground are just right.

The success of the city's 140-year-old Ram Leela tradition depends on a Muslim family from Rajasthan. This family has been creating the effigies for the last 15 years. Salim Khan, a resident of Rajasthan's Hindaun, said the art of effigy making is his ancestral work, which is an example of communal harmony and brotherhood in the country. [The Ram Leela is a reenactment of the tale of Rama as in the Indian epic Ramayana.]

"I have been making the effigy of [major players in the saga] Meghnath, Kubhkaran, and Ravana for the last 15-16 years. We are a team of 15 people. There are around seven people from my family working here," Khan told ANI.

Salim, who is associated with a Ram Leela Committee, came to Kanpur along with 15 others a month before Dussehra, which is celebrated across India to mark the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, the King of Lanka.

After the nine-day Navaratri, the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran, and Meghnad are burnt on the tenth day to commemorate the destruction of evil.

This year, Salim is preparing 80-metre tall effigy of Ravana. "We have been working on effigies for over 45 days," said Noor Alam, a relative of Salim Khan.