After 20 Years, Valley To Celebrate Dussehra
16 October 2007
The Indian Express
Srinagar: After a gap of 20 years, this Autumn would be a different one for the Kashmiri Pandits. For the first time after militancy set foot in Kashmir soil, Pandits will burn the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath on the eve of Dussehra in Srinagar. 'It will be a historical event,' Sanjay Tickoo, president of Kashmiri Pandits Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), said. 'The festival was celebrated last in 1987 in the Valley. In that year, the effigy of Ravana was burnt at Iqbal Park in Srinagar. Now we want to revive that festival.' Though the organising committee is yet to decide on the venue of the festival, the KPSS is planning to approach the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir soon for permission to conduct the festival. The organisers are interested in holding the function either at SP College ground or Polo ground. Dussehra is one of the important Hindu festivals which is celebrated across the country to commemorate victory of good over evil. Prior to the turmoil in the Valley, the festival was observed in the summer capital and all the major district headquarters with full fervour. But with the migration of Kashmiri Pandits, no such function was held in the past twenty years. On Dussehra, the celebration of good over evil is marked by burning the effigy of Ravana. The statue of the 10-headed demon Ravana is made of wood, hay etc with fireworks inside. The celebrations begin around sunset, families gather in the evening and then the effigy is set on fire. People even shoot arrows on the effigy. The effigy burns up with a huge display of fireworks, which is an exciting event for kids and adults alike. The KPSS hopes that many people will participate in the festival. 'In September, when we took out the Shoba Yatra through the heart of the city on the eve of Janmasthami (birthday of Lord Krishna), many Muslims enthusiastically participated in it. We were encouraged by the response from the Muslims so much that we decided to celebrate the Dussehra festival on October 21,' he said.