The Hidden Message of Dussehra

Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on

Everyone knows that Dussehra commemorates Lord Rama's vanquishing of Ravana and the evil he represents. Running parralel to the legend of the Ramayana and the triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, however, is the lesser-known tale of the Pandavas who worshipped the Shami tree which safeguarded their concealed weaponry and power. This tree is today known as the khejari, Prosopis cineraria, so viscerally worshipped, together with all the species that thrive around it, by the futuristic Bishnoi's.

As the noise, music (and pollution) of the modern day Dussehra festival plays its course, I worry that the symbolism of the 'victory of good over evil' has been totally forgotten. Today we seem unable to recognise the Ravanas resident in each of us, typified by our aggression towards each other and towards nature. That the Shami tree represented the power of nature to protect us is lost on us.

So. This Dussehra, even though I am far, far FAR from religious, I must ask all those in whose hearts the call of Dussehra is loud: "Do you not feel that the destruction of the gifts that nature has scattered on earth, to be shared by all living things, is an act of evil? What if the Hanuman remained silent and passive when Sita was abducted?"

Each of us have but a few breaths to breathe on this amazingly beautiful planet. We should spend these breaths in wonder and amazement and gratitude. Every song of every bird, every star in a smokeless sky, every flash of every fish in river, lake or sea should cause a sharp intake of breath -- a prayer to the gift of life.

Yet we are allowing the "realists" who run countries and governments to deface our only home... in exchange for a few lifeless scraps of cement and concrete that purify no air, clean no water and provide us no food.

Parents: These are the very strangers that our parents always told us to be wary of as kids. They mean us harm. And we must resist, unitedly. That is today's real message of Dussehra.