A town that never burns Ravana effigy

October 6th, 2011 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Baijnath (Himachal Pradesh), Oct 6 (IANS) Unlike in many other parts of India, this ancient pilgrim town in Kangra district does not burn the effigy of demon king Ravana on Dussehra. Locals believe it will bring bad luck and invite the wrath of Lord Shiva.

Prem Parshad Pandit, member-secretary of the high-powered committee of Himachal temples, told IANS, “This is the place where Ravana meditated for years to appease Lord Shiva. Burning his effigy and celebrating the festival means incurring the wrath of Shiva.”

This town is some 60 km from the district headquarters town of Kangra.

“There is also a myth that anybody from the town who participates in the effigy-burning ceremony will die an unnatural death. The fear of death is so strong that residents prefer to stay away from any kind of celebration,” he added.

The markets in the town remained closed and people don’t even buy crackers and sweets on Dussehra.

B.D. Sharma, a priest at the 13th century Baijnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, said people here are so inspired by Ravana’s devotion to Lord Shiva that they do not want to burn his effigy.

“The locals believe that burning Shiva’s effigy will bring bad luck,” he said.

Ramesh Sood, 65, who was born and brought up in the town, said he has never celebrated Dussehra.

“Since our grandparents did not celebrate Dussehra, we are not celebrating either. Our children and grandchildren also follow the tradition,” he said.

According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Ravana abducted Lord Rama’s wife Sita. Lord Rama fought a war with Ravana to have Sita released from captivity. He defeated Ravana and beheaded him. This episode is celebrated as Dussehra in many parts of India, with effigies of Ravana and his bothers Kumbhkaran and Meghnath being burnt.

Baijnath, located at 4,311 feet, is a small town located amid the scenic Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas. The temple has seen uninterrupted worship since its construction in 1204 A.D.

The shrine is a beautiful example of the early medieval north Indian temple architecture known as Nagara style of architecture. It’s a protected monument maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.

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