Doctor sahib who make effigies for Dussehra in Jammu & Kashmir

Mohammad Gayasuddin, a Unani practitioner from Uttar Pradesh, takes a break from his practice for a month every year so that he can come to Jammu and Kashmir and make effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarana and Meghnath for Dussehra.

He manages a team of 60 artists, who travel to the state to create effigies for the Vijaydashmi celebrations, marking the triumph of good over evil.

Mohd Gayasuddin gives final touches to an effigyof Ravana in Jammu.
Mohd Gayasuddin gives final touches to an effigyof Ravana in Jammu.

Fondly called “Doctor sahib” by workers, Gayasuddin’s family has been in the trade of making effigies from bamboo and paper for the last 33 years. He works under his uncle, Mohammad Rehan, who supervises the whole operation. A majority of the artists belong to Sardhana village in Uttar Pradesh.

“No matter how the politics of our country shapes up, we will continue making these effigies. I specially take leave from my professional commitments because we are emotionally attached to this work. Our family has always received love from people of J&K, especially the Hindu community which encourages us to do better,” said Gayasuddin, while giving final touches to a huge effigy at Geeta Bhawan here.

For the last over three decades, Sanatan Dharam Sabha, a religious organisation, has been approaching them for these works.

“The effigies created at Geeta Bhawan are sent to Rajouri, Poonch, Udhampur and as far as Leh in the Ladakh region. Jammu is like second home for us,” he said. Till he returns, his shop of traditional medicines is run by his employees.

Nearly 60 workers, comprising both Muslims and Hindus, are working under the family. “We never felt that our ‘ustad’ is a Muslim. It’s not only our bread and butter but also a great feeling that artists from both communities work together to complete the assignment,” said Gopal, an artist associated with the trade.

Read also: 5 things to know about Basohli paintings

Workers said Vijaydashmi is seldom celebrated in the Kashmir valley, but due to militancy and migration of Hindu minorities in other parts of the state in 1990, they were working overtime to complete orders from other areas.

In business for 33 yrs

  • Mohammad Gayasuddin, a Unani practitioner from Uttar Pradesh, along with his uncle manages about 60 artists, comprising both Muslims and Hindus, who travel to J&K every year to make effigies for the Vijaydashmi celebrations.
  • Fondly called ‘Doctor sahib’ by workers, Gayasuddin’s family has been in the trade of making effigies from bamboo and paper for the last 33 years.