Kiska Ravan?

Vodafone sends me a Dusshera message: Burai par acchai Ki jeet! Dusshera lata hai ek ummeed, Ravan ki tarah hamare dukhon ka ant ho. Ek nayi shuruat spl. msgs & logos ke saath. SMS DUS to51515@Rs3/SMS

Today, the image-making of the villain is a highly manufactured socio-political enterprise. This message of the triumph of good over evil has been abused to spread hatred and create a rift between communities. The question here is – who is being labelled evil? And why?

Until today I had never watched Ravan burning. This year I decided to become a spectator in the Dusshera celebrations. To many in the city, this event has become nothing more than ‘an inconvenience’. It simply means more traffic, more smoke and more noise.

We literally followed the fire-works and the crowds to reach the site. The lane adjacent to the maidan was overflowing with people, children selling heart-shaped balloons and hand-carts displaying bright bow and arrow sets and Hanuman’s gada. It was impossible to enter the gateway.

Young men stood on traffic islands, children sat on car bonnets or on their father’s shoulders. Grandmothers chatted with their neighbours and relatives. They seemed oblivious of the blaring traffic and the DTC bus that was trying to get past them.

The crackling loudspeakers invited BJP leaders on stage between powerful dialogues threatening Ravan to prepare for his death. Calls of Shri Ram Ki Jai! rang through the crowd. A child was reported missing. Visitors were asked to remain calm and avoid climbing the walls to enter the maidan. Ravan stood tall – overpowering yet silent; his tummy stuffed with explosives.

Was it just me feeling a fundamentalist vibe in the air? or was this all just harmless festivity?

While hearing repeated chants celebrating Ram’s greatness; I couldn’t help wondering – What of Sita being rejected and punished for her ‘impurity’? And what about the disfigured Shoorpanakha? Where is Ravan – the scholar, the follower of Shiva, the gifted ruler?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: