Here, festival of good over evil also means 'one' religion!

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Dehra Dun, Oct 9 (UNI) The quaint city of Dehra Dun, adored for its serene beauty and breathtaking splendour, is a curious paradox.

Otherwise peaceful on a normal day, the town is bustling with activity centered mainly in the ''court'' with Ravana whose judgement would be pronounced this evening.

It is a jury of artisans, craftsmen and the cavalcade of youngsters selling 'dhanushs' and 'gadas' besides hundreds of spectators at the Parade Ground which makes the festival of Dussehra a special day to purge one's sins and seep in the purity of good against evil.

The 'mela' is full of children displaying their art of self-defence by buying arrows for their dhanush's or indulging in tattoo making, while their parents admire the sounds of a flute and the musician toiling with his orchestra in a handmade bucket.

This year's Ravana stands at a majestic height of 52 feet, a good measure up from last's year's height. The city's heighest Ravana was made in 2004 and measured 65 feet, Mr Narendra Kumar, one of the organisers, told UNI. He informed that for the first time, a 'rath' bearing a swan and white horses carrying Ravana had been crafted.

''It took more than two months and around 25 workers to make the effigies,'' he said.

'' Notably, a majority of the workers are Muslims from Muzaffarnagar who make the effigies of Ravana, Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna every year.

''For them, there is no distinction between religion and like others, they also revel in the festivities'', he said.

The humongous effigy of Ravana and his ten heads can be easily seen from a distance, courtesy the blend of deep red faces and a bright yellow armour.

The expenditure in making the effigies came to around Rs five lakh.

The fireworks have been brought from Muzzafarnagar. While Ravana is pumped up with 400 gole balls to celebrate the victory of the forces of good over evil, Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna are doused with 150 gole balls each.

Tight security arrangements are in place and wooden barricades have been constructed to ensure that crowds do not come close to the effigies. Interestingly, there have been cases when crowds run to the site after the effigies are burnt to collect the ashes as they believe it would purify their homes.

After the Ramlila comes to Parade Ground, Speaker Harbans Kapur will address the gathering as Chief Guest after which the effigies would be set to fire, to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, the ten-headed demon King of Lanka.

UNI PB KK PM1517

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