There is a play within my novel – ‘Autobiography of a Mad Nation’ called India Fired. I speak of how we are obsessed with fire. Ram burnt Sita. Hanuman burnt Lanka. We burn Ravana. Gandhiji had us burn British clothes. Pandavas were burnt in their house by Kauravas. We burnt each other during partition. Gandhiji called off Non-Cooperation Movement when mobs burnt a police station in Chauri Chaura. Students burnt themselves in Anti-Mandal Agitation. We used to burn widows in Sati ritual.Now we burn candles in protest used to be torches called mashals once upon a time. Fire is part of our purification and destruction needs, we burn to destroy, we burn to purify – and we burn because we treat god as fire. And we burn Ravana because we see it as a symbol of evil. But it is high time we stopped doing it... because it is impossible to burn the Ravana within that easily.
— Sriram Karri, author
Ravan symbolises not only evil but also someone who failed to resist temptations. Therefore many people feel happy to see him demolished. It gives vicarious feeling of victory within every human self. It crosses the boundary of religion as evil is all pervasive and victory against easy temptations is cherished by one and all crossing religious boundaries.
— Anjani Kumar,
Hyderabad Additional Commissioner (Law and Order)
I think in today’s generation its significance is lost. Ravana was a demon when compared to Srirama or else he was a learned, talented and a man who did not cross his line in some sense but in today’s era if one is remotely also closer to Ravana leave alone Srirama he is a gentleman with values and knowledge. So the significance is gone and this practice should be stopped. Instead we should celebrate Dasara as festival of Shakti and Maa.
— Harini Ganti,
CEO & Founder, Cisne For Arts
For me Navaratri is a celebration of the divine feminine, while in North India it is Ravana Daha. Different parts of the country celebrate the festival differently! For me She is Mahishasura mardhini! Any story is finally annihilation of evil – destruction of one’s own ego and inner smallness.
— Ananda Shankar Jayant, renowned Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer
First off, nobody understands the idea of Ravana. That misconception of the personality created a wasteful tradition, which again, nobody understands the logic behind. Every story has a hero and a villain. Our hero is Rama, for good or for the bad. But essentially, Ravana wasn’t a typical villain. He was more well read, well experienced, a greater devotee of Shiva, and a connoisseur of fine arts. When Surpanaka showed interest in Laxman during Aranyavas, Ram and Laxman cut her nose off and sent her back. I would be angry too. He abducted Sita, which was his only mistake.
Ravana never really had 10 different heads like they describe. It’s stupid to think of such a thing. It was only a metaphor for the multifaceted Ravana. They actually signify the six shastras and the four vedas – making him a great scholar. He was in fact a child of a Brahmin and Kshatriya, the first inter-caste product of his times probably. Yet, he was the lord of the asuras, who were believed to be of a lower caste. Point is, we just need a villain in our story and we made him a super demonic personality which he isn’t. It is fine if people want to celebrate the defeat of Ravana, because Ram is our hero, but we sadly derive pleasure out of burning effigies and demonising an otherwise vibrant personality.
— K Sindhu Sree, Special Educator