Ravana the demon king is depicted as the principal antagonist of Rama. In all versions of the Ramayana, Rama triumphs over him in a ferocious battle, which is characterized by use of some absolutely awesome weapons. Finally Sita, who had been abducted by Ravana, is reunitedwith her husband.
To the common man, Rama is virtue personified, the “MaryadaPurushottam “ and Ravana is symbolic of evil.
Ravana is probably the best known of all Indian demons. His power and the awe he inspired among the people puts him on equal footing with Satan. He is described in the Ramayana as having “ten heads, twenty arms, and copper-coloured eyes, and bright teeth like the young moon. His form was as thick as a cloud or a mountain, or the god of death with open mouth. He had all the marks of royalty, but his body bore the impress of wounds inflicted by all the divine arms in his warfare with the gods. He was scarred by a thunderbolt of Indra, by the tusks of Indra’s elephant Airavata, and by the discus of Vishnu. His strength was so great that he could agitate the seas and split the tops of the mountains. He was a breaker of all laws and a ravisher of other men’s wives… Tall as a mountain peak, he stopped with his arms the sun and moon on their course, and prevented them rising. His presence creates a fear so paralyzing, that wherever he travels, the sun does not give out its heat, the winds do not blow and the ocean becomes motionless.”
As a result of years of n penance and worship of Brahma, Ravana had forced Lord Brahma to give him the gift of invulnerability against all the gods. He was also granted the ability to assume any form or shape he desired. He then declared war on the gods, conquering them one after the other, taking them back to Lanka where they were forced to work as his menial servants. Eventually the gods escaped from their bondage and Ravana knew that eventually the gods would get their revenge. The only weapon that could save him was immortality.
Pretending humility, he went to Shiva and began to do penance, hoping that eventually the god would grant him his wish. He stood on one of his ten heads, encircled by a ring of fire, for one thousand years. He then cut off that head and stood on another one, for another millennium. Eventually he came to his last head. Then Siva spoke, asking him what he desired. Three things, Ravana answered: Atmalingham, the sacred phallus, for his mother; and for himself immortality and the most beautiful woman in the universe. Siva had to grant him his wishes, but he outsmarted the fiend on his journey back to Lanka and forced him to give back the rewards.
This defeat filled Ravana with such rage that he decided to step up his war against the gods. In desperation the gods, knowing that none among them was powerful enough to defeat the demon, called upon Vishnu the Heavenly Father. After great deliberation, Vishnu cut himself into quarters. Each separate part became a mortal, the strongest and purest of whom would be chosen to slay Ravana. The segment of Vishnu, which developed into the purest being, was Rama. Rama created a host of monkeys and bears to fight by his side against the archfiend. They began the battle by killing off large numbers of Rakshasas. At this Ravana became so incensed that he abducted Rama’s beautiful wife, Sita, with whom the king of the demons had fallen in love. Sita courageously and steadfastly refused Ravana’s overtures and managed to ward Ravana off long enough for Rama to build a bridge across to Lanka. Rama slayed Ravana, rescued Sita, and returned triumphantly to Ayodhya
On Dussehra the effigy burning of Ravana and his brother and son , once again rejuvenates the spirit and reinforces victory of truth over evil
Thin strips of bamboo (from Assam) are bent to make curved shapes for the Raavan structures. Then, recycled sarees (from a market run by the Gujarati community), are wrapped tautly around the bamboo frames. Colourful, biodegradable paper is pasted over the sarees, and finally the Raavanwales decorate the paper with painted designs and paper trim.
Each Raavan is made to order and consists of a head, body, legs, crown, hands, weapons and other accessories; these are transported by truck and assembled on location the day before the fireworks display.
A few months ahead of Dussehra, Various places in Delhi comes to life with towering bamboo frames and colorful papier-mâché representations of the demon king. The markets,start producing over 2,000 towering effigies of Ravana ahead of the Hindu festival each year.
Titarpur is one of New Delhi’s largest effigy markets, and it is now abuzz with artisans preparing Ravana demon king figures for Dussehra Festival. People here are busy putting finishing touches to hundreds of effigies. Raavan, Kumbhakaran and Meghnath lie scattered all over, waiting to be dispatched.Known as thehub of effigy makers, families who live here have been making effigies for generations.The effigies are priced from R1,000 to R18,000, depending on the size.A lot of effigies have electrical lighting on them.Effigies in smaller sizes — 5-6 feet tall—are made for residential associations and smaller gatherings.
A new design, which is popular, has a two-faced Raavan; one in gold and the other in silver, Some effigies have special lighting effects in order to look scarier. Inspired by Anna Hazare’s movement, many effigies have the word ‘corruption’ written on them. Some effigies also have eyelashes that glow in the dark
Various Raavana making competitions are also held all over Delhi during this period
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