By Ramesh K Dhiman : One sultry Saturday afternoon, the door bell chimed thrice over without a pause. A little too exasperated, I surged straight to open the door. A group of tots gaily dressed as Rama, Sita, Luxman and Hanuman greeted me with a cherubic smile.
“Hi uncle, we are enacting a short skit on the life and times of Lord Rama this evening, ahead of the staging of ‘Ramlilas’ in the city. We solicit your presence on the occasion so that the event gets space in your newspaper”, they crooned in chorus.
Their chirpy chant took me on a nostalgic trip down the memory lane, when, we as tots used to trudge long distances through the tortuous hilly terrain to witness Ramlilas. On the 10th day, we all regardless of caste, colour or creed would assemble at a designated ground to witness effigies of the demon triumvirate – Ravana, Meghnatha, Kumbhkarana, symbolizing all that is evil going up in flames. Our predecessors too used to celebrate the victory of ‘good’ over ‘evil’, which has remained enigmatic and ‘elusive’ till the day, leaving umpteen questions unanswered.
Today, I look back in sheer disillusionment that nothing has come out of the age-old belief as the oft-quoted triumph over ‘evil’ has remained a ‘conundrum’. We see the Ravana clan emerging stronger over the fast dwindling Rama clan, which stands decimated to the hilt.
We are privy to the fact how ‘evil’ is over-stretching its wings to overshadow the ‘good’ symbolising the gala day, called Dussehra. We have failed to stem the rot plaguing our parochial society. There is a perceptible deficit in the camaraderie that these annual festivities evoked in the times gone by.
“What is the rationale of these rituals if we have not been able to register a decisive win over the ‘evil’ in a long-drawn battle we have been fighting for thousands of years now?” the million-dollar question seeks a plausible answer. We need to revisit and come clean on the rigmarole of a surfeit of compulsory rituals we have stuck to since time immemorial?
Another core question that seeks an answer as we brace up for the big day – Dussehra, is “Have we been able to get rid of the ‘real’ Ravanas, masquerading as men on the earth? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. We need to stir out of the reverie and ruminate on how crime has touched a new high.
Can we ever erase from memories, the nerve-chilling Unnao rape case, the Kotkhai (Himachal Pradesh) and the infamous Kathua rape cases and cold-blooded murder of the victims by hungry wolves in sheep’s clothing? The rape of a law student by a saffron swami and BJP minister makes one shudder. We know of some self-styled gods who are cooling their heels behind the bars for committing rapes on their disciples. “Do these hungry wolves deserve compassion?”, certainly not.
We need to go into a huddle and quiz ourselves if these solemn occasions, which were once the warp and woof of our cultural heritage and social ethos, be reduced to mere rituals?” Do the well-meaning festivals like the Republic Day, the Independence Day, have any relevance in the present social milieu?
Though, we have freed ourselves from the alien hegemony, we are still slaves to our false egos and frayed tempers? How can we win the race where women are subjected to rapes, molestation, murders, et al? The country is rattled by rampant corruption where those at the helms indulging in an open ‘loot’, while a common man is sweating it out for sustenance.
We need to get rid of the ‘real’ Ravanas to make these festivities relevant, as the ritualistic killing of the demon king has proved to be a wild goose chase. Ravana, who is worshiped in some countries for, besides his scholastic attributes, his abiding respect for women. After he kidnapped Sita, he kept her in a solitary ‘confinement’ under the watch of female attendants, which proves the point. Let us shun our mythical notions and get rid of the ‘real’ Ravanas, who target innocent girls and even kill them to satiate their sexual hunger.