Ravana burnt elsewhere, worshipped in parts of Madhya Pradesh

October 8th, 2008 - 5:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Oct 8 (IANS) While most Hindus culminate their Dussehra celebrations by burning the effigy of Ravana to symbolise the victory of good over evil, the 10-headed demon king of Hindu mythology is worshipped in two Madhya Pradesh districts. As temples across the nation resonate with prayers to Ram, a small temple built to worship Ravana in Vidisha district’s Ravangram village will echo with the reverberations of “Ravana Baba Namah”, a prayer to Ravana.

The temple has an ancient idol belonging to the Parmar Age, which shows Ravana in a reclining position. The villagers believe something untoward will occur if anyone tries to put the 10-ft idol in a standing position.

In the village, the demon king has been worshipped as a symbol of prosperity for over 600 years by Kanyakubja Brahmins, a Brahmin sub-sect to which Ravana was believed to have belonged.

He is regarded as a scholar and people worshipping him believe that burning the learned king, who knew all the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures) and was a devotee of god Shiva, is not justified.

In Mandsaur town, members belonging to the Namdeo Vaishnav Samaj, a Hindu sect, who worship the demon king on Dussehra believe that Ravana’s wife Mandodari belonged to the town and thus regard him as a son-in-law.

A 35-ft high 10-headed Ravana statue was installed in 2005 at Ravana Rundi in the Khanpur area of Mandsaur at the same place where a 25-ft high lime and brick ancient idol of the demon king existed till 1982. It developed cracks due to lightning and was ultimately destroyed.

The idol is worshipped every year and women in the area remain veiled on Dussehra since they regard Ravana as their son-in-law while men make offerings at his statue if anything they had desired comes true.

Though Ravana is widely seen as the demon king of Lanka, a symbol of evil and chief villain of the epic Ramayana, what is not so well known is that he was also endowed with several positive qualities.

According to mythology, he was the grandson of the creator of the universe, Brahma, son of the sage Vishrava and younger brother of Kubera, the deity of wealth. He is also believed to have been a scholar and connoisseur of arts and a devout follower of Shiva.

He is even credited with writing a commentary on the Vedas and verses on medicine.

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