A Soulful Story of Dussehra by my Grandma
Posted by Strategic Communications, JGI Group on 17 Oct 2018
I ran home happy and sweaty from the playground. We had no school for four more days! As I reached the gate, my granny next door greeted me where I saw her sieve sugar, she must be preparing her signature Dussehra sweets, I wondered!
After greeting her I asked, “Granny, since how long have you been making these special sweets for Dussehra?” She smiled through her gentle wrinkles and said, “Ever since Lord Rama attained victory over the evil Ravana.” “Granny! Come on, you’re not ‘that’ old, are you?” Her sense of humor was my source of entertainment.
I quickly washed up and slipped into some comfy clothes. As I grabbed a bowl of some tasty upma mamma kept in waiting for me, I pondered over what granny meant by ‘victory over the evil Ravana’. Though I had heard some stories about the bad man, as an 8-year-old I didn’t know much. I didn’t have a granny who would tell me about it, until my family moved to this neighborhood last year. I decided to run next door and ask her all about it, and why we celebrated Dussehra every year.
“Granny! Tell me all about it!” I said as my hand quickly swiped a laddoo from the basin on the kitchen counter. “About what, darling?” “Dussehra! Why do we celebrate this… this festival? Why did Lord Rama kill the evil man? What did he do? Steal a calf?” Granny laughed, “Well, I see that you have a lot of queries this evening. Let’s strike a deal. Do you want more laddoos or a ‘fun’ story?” Without a second thought, I grabbed a couple more laddoos and cried, “A fun story!”
She sat on her favorite mat on the floor, while I laid down before her, eyeing her, waiting for the words to roll out. And she began – “It was a great day for all the folks of Ayodhya, because they had received the news of their supposed King defeating the evil leader who had forcefully taken away his wife.
Did you know that Lord Rama lived in the forest during his exile, don’t you?”
When I nodded my affirmation, she continued,
“Well, when he was out, Ravana saw Rama’s beautiful wife, Sita. He wanted to marry her and so, kidnapped her, taking her away to his palace in Lanka. Rama was so unhappy that he wanted to rescue his wife and bring her back home to safety. So, with the help of his friends, he made a rescue plan to free Sita, who was locked up against her will.”
It must have been adventurous and heroic, I imagined.
“He went to Lanka with his trustworthy friends, who were his might. And together they fought Ravana for ten days. On the tenth day, Rama shot a fiery arrow which was the final blow that ended Ravana.”
I thought about it for a moment, and said, “But Granny, why did he take ten days to kill Ravana?”
Granny smiled. She then asked, “Does it take one day to do all your lessons in Math, Science, and English?”
“No, that would be too much for me. That’s why mamma makes a plan for me so that I study one lesson a day. So does my teacher.”
“The same way, Ravana was no ordinary beast. He was powerful. He had to be defeated one day at a time. Did you know he had ten heads?”
I looked up at my memory cloud in the air thinking of all those images of that horrid ten-headed man.
“Each of his head represents a bad thing - anger, ego, pride, selfishness, jealousy, injustice, attachment, greed, cruelty, and attraction. And they were all struck down, finally putting him to death on the tenth day.”
“But, Granny… Why was Ravana wrong? He just took the pretty lady away.”
“Would you like it if someone from school took your favorite pencil box or toy away from you? Or would you want to do the same to someone else?”
I was aghast. “No! That is not right! What is mine is mine, and what is theirs is theirs. That’s what my mamma taught me.”
Granny grinned. “Well, if that is not right, is it right to want what belongs to others? Or treat others badly and harshly, like how Ravana treated the pretty lady?”
I shook my head vigorously, “Absolutely not, Granny! That served him right.”
“And so my dear,” Granny continued, “we celebrate Dussehra as Lord Rama defeated what symbolizes evil and everything bad in a person. It is the victory of truth and justice over what is wicked. In fact, we call this festival ‘Dussehra’ because if not for Lord Rama killing Ravana, there would be no goodness left anywhere; no brightness in our lives.”
‘Wow!’ I thought. ‘This festival was more than about tasty food and sweets and holidays. It was about being happy and spending time with the people we love – like Granny.’
Granny was on her feet now, as she gently picked up the large basin full of ingredients for some other lip-smacking snacks. She started to hum her favorite tune as she walked towards the kitchen.
I followed her. “But what about the other victory story? About Goddess Durga and that other evil demon… Mahi... Mahishu... I forgot his name!” Granny chuckled, “I’ll tell you that story next year. Now come, have some lemonade that I made for you. You seem to be feeling stuffy…”
“And don’t touch another laddoo. Save some to have later for yourself.’