Ravan effigies go up in flames to mark Dussehra

October 9th, 2008 - 8:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) Wild cheering and applause rent the air as effigies of demon king Ravan, his brother Kumbhakaran and his son Meghnad exploded in a brilliant display of fireworks to mark Dussehra, the grand finale of the nine-day Navratri celebrations, Thursday.Celebrating the victory of good of evil, the huge effigies of the three demons went off in flames and pyrotechnic fireworks display at the Subhash Maidan, near the walled city, watched by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, COngress president Sonia Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila DIkshit and other politicians.

The scene was similar in hundreds of other parks and open spaces across the capital as the nine-day Ramlila celebrations came to an end. People decked in new clothes watched the annual spectacle as the police kept a close watch over the proceedings.

Before the effigies were burnt, various chapters from the Hindu epic Ramayana were enacted by artistes complete with their dazzling outfits, heavy jewellery, accessories and brightly painted faces.

At smaller gatherings, a priest read out excerpts from the epic and for the benefit of crowds artistes rendered dialogues in local parlance.

“Watching the scenes from Lord Ram’s life is an age-old tradition. We were captivated by the Ravanvadh (killing of the demon king)”, said Sohan Lal, a resident of Shalimar Bagh who works as a peon in a factory.

People thronged the grounds in front of the historic Red Fort, Shalimar Bagh, near New Delhi Railway Station, and hundreds of other parks across the city where the ‘Ravan dahan’ festivities were in full swing.

Lal, who brought along his 10-year-old son to watch the festivities, felt that in “these terror-struck times” the Ramlila and Dussehra celebrations were “reassuring”.

He said: “In the light of recent terror attacks, watching the effigy burn is a reassurance - that the god who destroys evil watches over us.”

A group of youngsters in their late teens claimed they never missed Dussehra celebrations.

“Ravan’s effigy burning is a message to all terrorists. That in the end, good will always be victorious.”

Security was tight in view of the Sep 13 terror bombings in which at least 24 people were killed and 100 injured. People were physically frisked and their bags checked with metal detectors.

Stalls selling snacks like aloo tikki, golgappas and chaat did brisk business. Youngsters flocked toy shops and gaming stalls. Even health stalls for checking blood sugar and blood pressure saw sizeable crowds.

People jostled to get a better view of the effigy-burning and clapped with delight as the actor playing Ram shot off a lighted arrow into the effigy of Ravan.

Ravi Mishra, a student of journalism, came to the walled city’s grounds with his family to watch the celebrations.

Mishra said: “The cycle of battling evil is etched in tradition - first Mother Durga destroyed demon Mahishasur, then Ram vanquished Ravan - both on this auspicious day. I never get bored of watching the legend re-enacted. I am here to be part of the festive spirit.”

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