Effigies of Sanatan Dharma critics to be burned, message displayed on Ravana's effigy at Red Fort
This move has garnered attention due to recent statements made by some Opposition leaders, including Tamil Nadu minister Udhyanidhi Stalin, which targeted the 'Sanatan Dharma' and drew the ire of the BJP.
As Dussehra approaches, certain Ramleela committees in Delhi have made a rather unconventional decision. Alongside the traditional effigies of the demon king Ravana and his cohorts Kumbhkaran and Meghnad, they have opted to burn effigies symbolizing individuals who have criticized the 'Sanatan Dharma'. This decision followed a suggestion from Delhi BJP leaders, who urged these committees to include the effigies of such politicians in their pyres.
This move has garnered attention due to recent statements made by some Opposition leaders, including Tamil Nadu minister Udhyanidhi Stalin, which targeted the 'Sanatan Dharma' and drew the ire of the BJP. While the decision to burn effigies symbolizing critics may be viewed as a form of protest, it underscores the importance of the festival as a platform for expressing societal concerns and values.
However, office-bearers of these committees maintain that their decision is not politically motivated. They point to their track record of torching effigies representing issues such as inflation, corruption, and drug addiction in previous years. The aim, they say, is to raise awareness and send a message about these concerns through the age-old tradition of burning effigies during Dussehra.
Traditionally, the effigies burned on Dussehra are crafted from materials such as iron mesh, bamboo, and paper. These larger-than-life representations are meticulously prepared and typically filled with firecrackers to create a spectacular display. While the tradition is steeped in cultural and religious significance, it has also become a source of environmental concern.
Each year, as these effigies are set ablaze, Delhi witnesses a significant decline in air quality. The burning of effigies, particularly that of Ravana, contributes to a spike in pollutants, adversely affecting the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the region.
Despite this annual environmental challenge, Delhi's Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, expressed his gratitude to the Ramleela committees. He commended their efforts in reducing the use of firecrackers during Dussehra celebrations. Kejriwal noted that as a result of these measures, the AQI on Dussehra in 2021 registered the lowest levels in comparison to previous years. This acknowledgment reflects the delicate balance between upholding traditions and addressing pressing environmental concerns.