Celebrating Dushehra

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'Jau' or oats /barley shoots
‘Jau’ or oats /barley shoots

Ravan is the face of evil and burnt relentlessly all over India for centuries because he abducted Rama’s wife Sita. Can we learn from the past and take such actions in our present.  Each one of us needs to kill the evil within ourselves and let the good prevail.

Celebrating Dushehra every year is a ritual we have grown up with.  As a youngster attending melas/fairs and watching Ravan, Kumbhkaran and Meghnad  go up in flames was the highlight of the festival.  In fact when my children were young they would always be anxious to reach the venue in time for “Ravan Dahan”.

This fight and triumph of good over evil has been celebrated for centuries.  Ravan’s effigies are getting larger and for us this symbolic victory is far removed from reality.  Ravan as a symbol of evil is a paradox as he was a scholar.  His ten heads are symbolic of his knowledge of the Vedas and Shastras.  A musician par excellence, he was a maestro veena player.  His evil deed to kidnap Lord Rama’s wife Sita, led to him being punished by death.  The epic Ramayana is popular in India and the whole of the Southeast Asia.  It has been adapted, performed, told and retold in literature, music, drama, painting, temple sculpture and folk arts.  The impact of Ramayana on our culture, tradition and religion is profound.  The story is still popular and is the inspiration for narrative in various crafts from different states of India.

Dushehra or Vijaydashmi  is the tenth day after celebrating nine days of Navaratri.  It also signifies the killing of the rakshasa Mahishasur.  This is the time of harvest in India and the mother Goddess is invoked to activate and renew the fertility, power and energy of the soil.  This is the reason we sow ‘jau’ (oats/barley) seeds on the first day of Navratri.  How they sprout and grow is indicative of how the harvest will be.

Ravan is the face of evil and burnt relentlessly all over India for centuries because he abducted Rama’s wife Sita. Can we learn from the past and take such actions in our present. Each one of us needs to kill the evil within ourselves and let the good prevail.

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