Today marks the Hindu festival of Dussehra- which commemorates the celebration of Lord Rama (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) defeating Ravana- the demon king of Lanka who abducted Sita (wife of Rama and herself also an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi).
According to mythology, when Lord Rama kills Ravana- who has ten heads- he immediately dies and is literally burned away.
Even the term Dussehra means the destroying of ten (heads) or evil. So Dussehra which falls on the tenth day after nine days of worship of the Goddess also is known as Vijayadashami or victory on the tenth day.
I recall on one visit to New Delhi witnessing the hundreds of feet tall effigy of Ravana being burned away to celebrate Dussehra.
However, my grandmother would bow to the effigy because she taught us that Ravana was also a scholar of the ancient Indian scriptures, a brave king, and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. His ten heads represent the ego mind that confuses us and can drown out the voice for love and peace. But he was not all bad.
According to mythology, when Ravana died, the final words he uttered were Shree Rama, and this allowed him to enter moksha, or enlightenment after death. Basically, in the last moments of his death, he realized his mistakes and that dying at the hands of Lord Rama was actually a boon and blessing.
For me, there is rich symbolism in this story. A permission to bring darkness to the Light. To allow egoic tendencies and old unhealthy patterns to be burnt away. To know that if I feel fear or resistance that too is okay. Even within the fear and darkness, there is this glorious Call to Love, a desire for healing. I join with this Call. I answer this Call. In the end, the Light prevails. In the end, compassion and mercy will win. As they did for the even for the mighty Ravana.
Wishing you all many blessings on this auspicious day of Dussehra!
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