The festival of Dusshera was celebrated in India this 24th October with great fervour. The effigies of Ravan, his son Meghnad and brother Kumbhakaran were consigned to flames with aplomb. Traditionally the festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. But it is more than a festival. It would help understand why the three effigies are burnt? Why not Ravan alone? Which one represents evil? One, two or all the three? Do they symbolise something?
In an easy to understand definition, evil is all negativity experienced in life. The individual does have a sense of what is right or wrong in a given situation. The same person also knows or has a fairly good idea of what constitutes human virtue universally. When the person goes against his inner voice, he falls prey to evil thoughts and actions. Since life is a complex cycle, all of us undergo such experiences on a daily basis. Some people get the opportunity to do more good than those doing more evil. If we take stock of the balance sheet on an annual basis, it proves cathartic. That is the real significance of Dusshera.
The three effigies represent the collective operation of evil in society, especially by the government. Ravan was the King of Lanka, the Kingdom of Gold. He was a renowned scholar, a famous professional expert of time management, religious by nature and upbringing, but also proud to be so endowed. His pride proved to be his nemesis.
His son, Meghnad or Indrajit was the crown prince. He was named Indrajit for having defeated the Lord of the Heavens, Indra. He symbolises repression of the civilians by the King and his progeny. If the people are oppressed by misuse of the king’s authority, it becomes very atrocious. When the king suffers from pride and others in the court exercise authority autocratically, the masses suffer and the king forfeits their goodwill.
His brother Kumbhakaran was known to sleep for 6 months at a stretch. If those who can exercise sobering influence on the king go to sleep for 6 months, they ignore public suffering by turning a deaf ear to them. If the rulers become insensitive, their doom is sure.
Irrespective of the form of government, whether monarchy or democracy, the conduct of the business of governance in this manner stokes popular anger and results in the total annihilation of the group comprising the government. Since failure of governance in such situations can not be blamed to one person alone, all prominent authorities come for punishment collectively. The burning of the three effigies of Ravan, Meghnad and Kumbhakaran represents that exactly. When a government fails in doing its primary duty to the people, it has to be changed only. Whether such a change occurs naturally or brought about by bloody revolution or non-violent revolution or election, depends on the time, place and the people. At the individual level, however, it is the person alone who must take the responsibility of all his actions. A thoughtful style of living accommodates diverse points of view and persons, displays concern for all living things and the environment and leads a fruitful life as one among the millions on this benign planet Earth. Once that mood captivates one’s imagination, there flows the festive mood. This chemical change from gloom to festivity is life. It makes the whole season of Sharad Ritu or the pre winter, a month of festivities culminating in the most loved festival of Diwali or Deepawali- the festival of lights. On the Diwali day, it happens to be the darkest night of the year, but human ingenuity tends to challenge mother Nature by lighting millions of lamps to create daylight . The season for new ventures, businesses, crops and initiatives heralds its grand arrival. Welcome it with full gusto. Welcome to all and best wishes for a happy Diwali.