There is one place where the demon king Ravana is safe from Lord Ram’s arrow of fire on Dussehra which will be celebrated Monday across the country — in a tiny, ancient pilgrimage town in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district.
The residents of Baijnath town, some 60 km from the district headquarters town of Kangra, believe that by not participating in Dussehra, they are paying respect to the devotion of Ravana towards Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
During the festival across the country, the effigy of mythological demon king Ravana is consigned to flames as a symbol of victory of good over evil.
Explaining the rationale for not celebrating Dussehra in Baijnath, Prem Parshad Pandit, member secretary of the high-powered committee of Himachal temples, told IANS that the residents of Baijnath believe that participating in the celebrations means inviting the wrath of Lord Shiva.
“People believe that Baijnath is the place where Ravana meditated for years to appease Lord Shiva. As a result, Lord Shiva does not want his devotees to burn the effigy of his greatest disciple,” Mr. Pandit said.
“There is also a myth that anybody from the town who participates in the effigy-burning ceremony will die an unnatural death. The fear of death is so strong that the residents prefer to stay away from any kind of celebrations,” he said.
Octogenarian Bhiwani Singh, who is settled in Baijnath, said that he had never celebrated Dussehra throughout his life.
“You talk about celebrating Dussehra, I have never seen or even heard about burning effigies in this area throughout my life. It is a place were Lord Shiva blessed Ravana,” he said.
According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Ravana abducted Lord Rama’s wife Sita. Lord Rama fought a war with Ravana to release Sita from his captivity. He defeated Ravana on Dussehra and beheaded him.
Baijnath (4,311 feet) is a small town located amidst the scenic Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas. It’s famous for Lord Shiva temple that was built in the 13th century.