Do we need to celebrate Deepavali and Deify Rama as God?[PART:01]

 There are two prominent stories about the celebration of Deepavali[Diwali]The most well known story behind Deepavali is in the Ramayana, the great Hindu epic.According to Ramayana, Rama,the prince of Ayodhya was ordered by his father,King Dasharatha,to go away from his country and come back after living in the forest for fourteen years.So Rama went on exile with his devoted wife Sita and faithful brother, Lakshmana.When Ravana,the king of Lanka[In pre-Mahavansa history Ravana comes fourth in line.The other great Lankan kings were Manu,Tharaka,and Bali.Interestingly,of these kings,King Raavana’s technological and military prowess was so renowned that he is depicted in Indian literature as having ten heads and numerous hands holding a multitude of weapons.] abducted Sita and took her away to his island kingdom of Lanka,Rama fought against and killed Ravana.He rescued Sita and returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years.The people of Ayodhya were very happy to hear of their beloved prince's homecoming.To
celebrate Rama's return to Ayodhya,they lit up their houses with earthen lamps (Deepams), burst crackers and decorated the entire city in the grandest manner.This is believed to have started the tradition of Deepavali.Another well known story related to Deepavali history is narrated in the Bhagavata Purana about Narakasura,an asura[The Aryans were the warrior,cow worshipping people who came from the middle east and pushed down south the original Drividian Indians who were more into farming.The concept of Asuras and Gods is supposed to have arisen at that point.In the Vedas and in the cuneiform inscriptions,the word asura is used in the sense of (1) a nobleman, (2) a powerful being, In later Skt. literature, it is always used in an evil sense,As the suras were the gods,the asuras were not-gods,and therefore the enemies or opponents of the gods.] king who somehow got great powers and conquered both the
heavens and earth. Narakasura was very powerful,very strong and ruled like a despot and people everywhere were afraid of him.They were afraid to stand up against him, because he punished people who stood up against him,very severely.It is believed that Krishna and his third wife? Satyabhama killed Narakasura,on the day before Deepavali and rescued 16,000 heaven women whom he had imprisoned in his palace.The people of heaven and earth were greatly relieved to have got freedom from the hands of the terrible Narakasura.They celebrated the occassion with much grandeur,a tradition that is believed to be alive through the annual observance of Deepavali.So,It’s the enemy’s death that is celebrated.
Let those who like to celebrate Rama’s persona celebrate it with lights, new clothes, good food and so on. So also for Krishna.Nobody has a problem with that.Why should any death be celebrated?If Khalistanis celebrate the brutal killing of Indira Gandhi,who perceived her as the woman responsible for destroying the "Akaal takht" sahib,a historical & religiously significant building in the premises of Golden temple,Amritsar,how will you respond?For non Khalistanis Indira Gandhi was a good woman,but for Khalistanis she was a bad woman.Such events of killing and counter-killing should not become occasions for celebration that will only serve to remind representative groups of their inimical relationship.

Perceptions differ in north and south India as well as in
Srilanka about Rama killing Ravana and Krishna killing Narakasura. Deepavali day just does not remain a day of lighting lamps, wearing new clothes, worshipping whom one considers god, but also burning of effigies of Ravana and his kins,which particularly arise a question.For few, reasons against burning effigies and firecrackers may be environmental considerations.But For many, these are reminders of atrocities and killings of Aboriginal communities [Dravidians,who established first civilization in india,The Indus valley civilization between 3300–1500 BC] during the Aryan invasion  into India.around 1500 BC and the institutionalization of the caste-based discrimination, segregation, oppression and suppression.[Refer Rig Veda]“Nothing wrong if a nation or a section of the nation celebrates Rama’s birthday or coronation day. But why burn Ravana’s effigies on that day?” “Dravidians across the country treat Ravana as their representative. His action of abducting Sita was seen by them as an answer to mutilating the beautiful body of Shurpanaka, his own sister, by Lakshman at the instance of Ram himself. Further, he did not physically assault Sita at all.They see Shurpanaka and Sita as women who have equal rights to dignity and self-respect.Why demonise Ravana alone? It’s only the evil, cruel mind which wants to celebrate death. In a multi-cultural nation we all should protect everybody’s right to worship birth, not death. We should celebrate creativity and productivity, not destruction”.This Deepavali, let us all also challenge ourselves and ask: what is it that we are celebrating? And, what do we mean when we say this is a victory of “goodness or evil”. Or, are we celebrating death of those who gave their lives to defend their lands and sovereignty?

We know that mythologies are constructed by the dominant caste/class writers, not only to sustain their dominance but to subvert the emerging knowledge and identities of the historically oppressed people. The view that Ravana is a representative of Dravidian masses has been growing over the years. Of course there are multiple readings of the Ramayana and different ways to understand the characters of that story. So also of Rama.The notion of dharma and adharma too differ from class to class and caste to caste. Those who want to worship Rama have the right to worship him, but similarly, those who want to worship Ravana or admire him have the right to do so as well.

Similarly, Deepavali is also the day when Krishna killed Narakasura. Narak­asura is seen as a representative of Dravidian adivasis/or part of the Dravidian warrior heritage. Why should any death be celebrated? If someone celebrate the brutal killing of Rajiv Gandhi, men who perceived him as the man responsible for deaths and devastation in Sri Lanka, how will you respond? For some, Rajiv Gandhi was a good man, but for others he was a bad man

[By Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]



  2. Prasanna Muthuthanthri
    If Ramayana/ Ausuras/Gods are epic story , then reasons for kidnapping somebody else's wife and killing are dramatized in those epic story. So epic stories in reality- are literature, just in literal and in proper sense- are just a narration by a writer. How ever, then we can also, reasonably assume such incidents in the epic story may not have happened actually in real life of the people lived couple of centuries ago. So how to give punishment- capital or criminal- for the perpetrators, when non existence. Then how can you link a literature to celebration of Diwali on the assumption of celebrating of brutal killing or death of an opponent. What about looking such celebrations of Diwali as Rituals and Traditions . Rituals and traditions play an important role in society. Indeed some times, Rituals may serve a social function, in that they express, fix, and reinforce the shared values and beliefs of a society. So celebration of Diwali lend a certain spirit that nurtures the family connection, giving us a sense of belonging and helping us celebrate generations of family union. More importantly, Diwali traditions create positive memories for all..