Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 23:
The 10-headed mythological demon king Ravan may be portrayed in negative character in Ramayan, but an artisan family in Odisha capital reveres him for keeping his hearth warm throughout the year.
The annual festival of Ravan Podi– burning of the effigies of the demon king– on Vijaya Dasami is a moment of joy to celebrate the symbolic victory of good over evil. However, this artisan family quietly mourns the glittering moment as the explosive stashed idols are set ablaze.
Within minutes, everything is reduced to ashes and the wait is long– till the next Dussehra.
Prakash Kumar Bhoi is the master craftsmen of the effigies of demon king Ravan that are set afire at various places in the capital city at its outskirts. Since over three decades, Bhoi has been constructing the huge explosive-laden structures of the mythological character which go up in flames on Dussehra.
Artisans from Daakbangala in Old Town area here are engaged in this idol preparation.
Bhoi had learnt the art of idol making from Tikam Mohapatra. After getting trained from his guru, Bhoi has been preparing idols independently with the help of his better half Reena and other helping hands. They start preparation for the annual festival a month before the onset of the festivities.
While the whole world is busy in planning for shopping, get-togethers, partying, meeting friends and many more… the Bhoi family races against time to meet the deadline.
This year, Bohi and Co have got contracts from eight Puja Committees in the city and nearby areas. Some of the major Puja Committees for whom they will be preparing Ravan and Kumbhakaran idols are Sahid Nagar, Baramunda, Palasuni, Keshura, Unit IV, Gosagareswar Chhak and Indira Gandhi Padia in Pipili.
They erect gigantic idols as high as 40-45 feet for which they charge roughly around Rs 2000 a foot. However, the arithmetic is not as plain and simple as it appears. At times they get raw deals as the clients refuse to pay the agreed amount citing flaws in the creations.
Odisha has been a victim of natural calamities. Last year, cyclone Phailin hit the coastal areas during Dussehra which dampened the festive spirit as well as dealt huge blow to the business community. Bhoi too was affected by the nature’s fury as his creations bore the brunt of they cyclonic storm. The idols were damaged in the tropical cyclone resulting in a loss of around Rs 70, 000 for Bhoi.
“I suffered a loss of around Rs 70, 000 last year due to Phailin. Happiness and sorrow are a part of life. While constructing idols, we pray rainfall not to occur as it would wash away everything. At times, I feel like leaving everything. But, an artist cannot stay away from his first love. When Puja arrives, my heart fills with joy and I again get down to my work,” Ravan idol maker, Prakash Kumar Bhoi said.