The residents of a small village by the name Sangola in Maharashtra’s Akola district worship the demon king Ravana on the occasion of Dussehra. While for most of India, Dussehra is a day to celebrate Lord Rama's victory over Ravana, the villagers have decided to worship Rama’s nemesis, Ravana instead. Dussehra is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navratri every year. Ravana is worshipped in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, as Mandsaur is Ravana’s in-law according to folklore.
The village has assembled an enormous statue of Ravana made out of black stone. The statue has 10 heads and 20 arms, standing tall in the village. According to the locals in the village, the Lanka king is being worshipped in Sangola for the last 200 years. The local priest Haribhau speaking to the media said that even though the rest of the country burns the man-made Ravana, the demon king is worshipped in Sangola for his ‘intelligence and ascetic qualities’. According to the locals in the village, Ravana was a formidable scholar.
"We believe that Ravana abducted Sita for political reasons and preserved her sanctity. We believe in Lord Rama, but we also have faith in Ravana, which is why we don't burn his effigies," according to villager Dnayneswar Dhakre.
"The happiness, peace and contentment in the village is because of the great king Ravana," he added. Speaking about the ritual he further added, "Everyone is afraid of Ravana, 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."
Apart from Mandsaur, Ravana has been known to be worshipped in many places. Bisrakh, Uttar Pradesh has been worshipping Ravana for years now. Places like, Gadchiroli, Kangra, Mandya, Kolar, and Jodhpur have also had instances of people worshipping the demon king. In many of these places, Ravana is said to be worshipped for his immeasurable devotion to Lord Shiva.
(With PTI inputs)