As the country prepares to welcome Navratri in which Durga is worshiped with great fervor and at the end of it, effigies of Ravana are burnt in many parts of the country as a symbol of victory of good over the evil. The ritual of burning Ravana effigies is the most popular way of celebrating Dussehra in India. But this year, there is a possibility that a ban on this practice could be imposed, it being against the Clean India Campaign.
Also, it could happen because Omveer Saraswat, president of Lankesh Bhakt Mandal, a Mathura-based religious outfit, has written to Modi and Yogi Adityanath. In his letter, he has said that the practice of burning effigies of Ravana is a big insult to the great devotee of Shiva that he was and also against rituals of Hindu religion that proscribes burning of a man, even if symbolically if he has already been cremated.
Saraswat held that burning of these effigies and crackers also increases pollution and the risk of accidents for children as well as others. He hoped that as the government is promoting cleanliness, it would put an end to this practice as well. He further said that when the entire country is burning the effigies of Ravana, their organization offers prayers by reciting hymns and doing havan at temple of Shiva in Mathura. He also asserted that everyone has a right to equality as per the constitution and therefore, no group has the right to hurt religious sentiments of some other. He said that Ravana played the priest while Setu Bandh Rameshwaram was being constructed by Lord Ram and his supporters and that it is humiliating and against Indian culture to burn the effigy of such a “noble figure” year after year.
Apart from requesting a ban on burning of Ravana’s effigies, the letter also suggests some alternative ways of marking the significance of the festival of Dussehra in our lives and in that of our children. It said that the principles followed by Ravana and Ram should be taught to children as a part of their school curriculum, the epic battle fought between the two be played on a large scale and Dussehra be celebrated as Ravan Moksha Diwas.