A Mathura-based lawyer, claiming to represent the Saraswat Brahmin community, has petitioned the president and the prime minister seeking a ban on the burning of Ravana effigies on Dussehra. According to Omveer Saraswat, Ravana, the king of Lanka in the epic Ramayana, was a Saraswat Brahmin, and the burning of his effigies (Ravana Dahan) was an “insult” to community members and many others who worshipped him.
Saraswat wrote a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath earlier this month.
He said in the letter that many other communities worshipped Ravana, and referred to a huge Ravana idol in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh and a temple in Bisrakh in Greater Noida near the national capital. Many people offer prayers to Ravana before beginning any auspicious work, he added.
He said the Constitution granted freedom to all citizens to practice their religion. “We (Saraswat Brahmins) are also citizens of this country, and burning of (Ravana’s) effigies hurts our religious sentiments,” he wrote.
Saraswat said the practice should be stopped as many Hindu religious texts such as the Srimad Bhagwat Puran also accepted Ravana’s wisdom and farsightedness.
He also referred to various accidents such as stampedes and fires during Dussehra celebrations, leading to many deaths in the recent years, to press for a ban on the burning of effigies.
Dussehra is celebrated across the country, particularly the northern region, to mark the defeat of Ravana by Lord Ram in the epic Ramayana. This year Dussehra will be celebrated on September 30.
“We have been awaiting a response to our letter. If our demand is not met, we are considering taking legal recourse,” Saraswat told PTI.