And Raavan burns … the triumph of good over evil … the symbolic arrow bearing the flames of justice and good, aimed and directed, by Ram, towards a model of Raavan and the effigy burnt to symbolise his end ..
( and a unknown message came across to me, on the mobile : ‘fine Raavan burns, but how many of those are Ram that aim their arrows to him’ ..)
And after some personal debate that my interiors battle with, I move on .. move on because in todays times of instant news and instant comment on news and instant reaction on it .. one is a hundred fold cautious in putting anything down for public consumption .. its consequences could be level, could be trouble ..
And so to ‘….zindagi ..’ and the night of its presence ..
And Dusshera is celebrated through out the country, and soft memories of the celebrations are still vivid in the mind and heart ..
It is a festival when Lord Ram conquered Raavan in battle .. the good getting victorious over the evil Raavan .. the excitement of this event and its various manifestations come in so many different forms ..
In the region where I was born, there are impromptu stage plays and enactments by the roadside, in public ares, where the Ramayan is enacted .. the story of Ram and Sita and Laxman and Raavan and Hanuman, and Garudh and .. so many others connected to the mythical and to many the religious contents of them ..
In the celebrations that follow, many conduct pooja’s in homes and in places of work .. mechanical objects and possessions are put in prayer .. motor cars for example shall be decorated by a garland and the traditional prayer is conducted around it .. weapons are of importance too .. they are put in prayer too .. put in prayer meaning, put as an object of respect in the pooja that is conducted ..
In the times gone by the traditional family weapon, the sword, was and perhaps in some homes still is, put in prayer.
‘Jhaanki’s’ … colourful carriages depicting aportion of the story of the Ramayan is modelled on these motorised vehicles and they move around the city, amidst massive crowds .. music and chantings being prominent and tons and tons of humanity there to see these colourful tableau’s move by ..
Getting a vantage point for a particular tableau parade in a particular part of the city was a challenge … some known friends were subjected to pleadings … some gate crashings were undertaken into the homes of those along which the ‘jhanki’s’ would pass by .. and when it was all over the rush and the stampede and the commotion was so intense, many would lose loved ones in the crowds ..
I remember my Father taking us to all these parades in Allahabad, my younger brother still too small to walk by himself, perched on my Father’s shoulders, and I holding on to my Father’s hand in a tight grip, guiding them and pushing through the masses of people round us until we reached safe ground ..
The sword in traditional homes in prayer was often used for anointment, as it were, as a ritual - the elders or the men would use the blade of the sword to cut their finger and annoint the God’s and Goddesses by putting a ‘tilak’ of their blood on them .. many would put the ‘tika’ on the foreheads of family members .. it was considered auspicious …
I remember when I was fighting the election in 1984 from Allahabad my birth place, there would be many that would, during my canvassing travels to different parts of the city and its rural villages, come across devoted and dedicated followers of the party that would do similar for me - slice their fingers, and take the blood to mark and ‘tika’ on my forehead …
It all sounds too sensitive .. but these are the sentiments of the people .. for them it was an honour .. for us alarming .. alarming too were those fans that would paint my portrait in their blood and present it to me .. my telling them to desist would fall on deaf ears .. how does one desist sentiment ..?