Akola: For most of us, the festival of Dussehra is a day to celebrate Lord Ram’s victory over Ravan, symbolising triumph of good over evil, but residents of a tiny village in Maharashtra’s Akola district worship the demon king with equal fervour.
An enormous black stone statue of Ravan, with 10 heads and 20 arms, stands tall in Sangola village where, according to locals, the Lanka king is being worshipped for the last 200 years.
Even as the rest of the country burns effigies of Ravana on Dussehra, the demon king is worshipped in Sangola for his “intelligence and ascetic qualities”, local priest Haribhau Lakhade told sources.
According to some senior citizens in the village, Ravan was a formidable scholar.
“We believe that Ravan abducted Sita for political reasons and preserved her sanctity. We believe in Lord Ram, but we also have faith in Ravan, which is why we don’t burn his effigies,” villager Dnayneswar Dhakre said.
Lakhade said several generations of his family have been worshipping Ravan in the village.
“The happiness, peace and contentment in the village is because of the great king Ravan,” he claimed.
“Everyone is afraid of Ravan, but he is worshipped by everyone in our village. On the occasion of Dussehra, people from across the country to the village to see the statue and some even offer prayers,” Dhakre said.