Dussehra (or Vijayadashami) is a festival popularly celebrated all over India.

The story behind the festival goes like this. On this very day, Lord Rama killed Ravana to re-claim his wife Sita, who had been abducted by Ravana. This festival marks the victory of Goodness over Evil. On this day, people from all over India burn effigies of Ravana and conduct plays, popularly known as Raam Leela, which depict the entire story of how Rama fought the battle with Ravana and came back to his kingdom as a victorious king. Such plays are organised all over India. It is a must watch, if you havent seen any yet.

Speaking of Ramayana, it will be sacrilege if I do not mention my favorite character in the entire book: Devi Sita

Sita, in every sense of the word, epitomizes womanhood and all the characteristics it stands for. It is women like her, who re-instate my belief and faith in the inner strenght and power of women.

In order to give some background to the uninitiated, Sita was a princess, daughter of Bhudevi, later adopted by King Janak. When she got married to Lord Rama, he was soon sent to exile. Like a dutiful wife, she gave up the earthly comforts for a life in the woods with her husband. After that she was abducted by Ravana, who kept her in his kingdom. Rama wages war and rescues Sita from Ravana. Since Sita was kept in captivity by Ravana all this time, she had to go through the ‘Agni-Pariksha’, the test of going through the fire, in order to prove her chastity to the world. She survives that and they return to Ayodhya, the kingdom.

On reaching Ayodhya, Rama is crowned the king. He soon finds out that people of his kingdom are not ok with him living with a woman who was in another man’s household for a certain period of time. He leaves Sita and thus she is forced into her second exile. This time, she is not alone. She is pregnant and is taken into shelter by sage Valmiki. The only reason why Sita continues to live, is because she wants to hand over her sons to their father. The moment that happens, she goes back to where she came from: Mother Earth.

Now, if you mark closely, Sita, as a woman goes through all the emotions and the atrocities that women these days go through.

Despite being the queen, she attaches herself to the destiny of her husband, by willingly going with him for the 14-yr exile. A lot of women willingly go through tough times for the sake of their husbands.

She is abducted by a man who keeps her in his kingdom This is akin to all the atrocities women suffer in hands of monster-like men, who try to show their power over women by physically torturing them.

She is made to go through Agni-Pariksha to prove her chastity This is sadly the story of many women who have to go through the humiliating task of proving their chastity to the world.

She is left by her husband when there are fingers raised on her character Story of many women who are left high and dry by their husbands – for whatever reason!

Now, I have always looked up to Sita as an ideal daughter, an ideal wife and an ideal mother. According to me, she is the very epitom of patience, courage and self-respect. When she is forcedly sent on her second exile, she wants to kill herself and that is when she is reminded of her duties as a mother and that she has to unite the father with the children. At the same time, when Rama is united with his children, he begs her to come back. She refuses. This shows the strenght of the woman – she succumbed to every humiliation she was put through, but only because she had her “duties” to be fulfilled. The moment that happens, she holds her dignity high by turning down the man, who sent her away. This way she fulfills her Karma at the same time holding her head held high.

[Images: http://www.kamalkapoor.com]