Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jaane kya hoga Rama re

In the last nine years that I've lived in Singapore, I've heard all sorts of things, theories and explanations about India that I never even knew about. For example, a Singaporean I know recently remarked that "all south Indians are dark-skinned but north Indians are fair because they have some Caucasian blood." Sheesh. Some of the stories and theories are so random, unheard of and out-of-the-blue that I actually have to go and google them up to get my facts right before I get into the argument. And just when I think I've heard everything, someone tells me something else about India that I had no idea about.

Recently, I heard something quite odd, and I've been thinking about it since. Someone at my workplace said that Diwali is celebrated in South India a day earlier than in North India because Lord Rama travelled from Lanka through southern India to his kingdom Ayodhya in the north. I had never heard of that before. The next thing I know - there will be a new theory that Diwali is celebrated in Singapore (on yet another day!) because Lord Rama probably had a detour at Singapore - perhaps Sita wanted to pick up a few things from Orchard Road - and Lakshman wanted an ipod from Mustafa. Sheesh. But then, trying to keep an open mind, I decided to do some investigation into this.

It sounded quite strange to me because from all my Amar Chitra Katha memory, Diwali is celebrated for a number of reasons - two of which are that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after killing the demon Ravana, and his subjects lighted lamps to welcome him back; and that Lord Krishna killed Narakasura on this day. I would assume that either the whole of India would celebrate it on the same day (the day the bad guy died) to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, or they would have their own reasons to celebrate it on different days, such as the ones listed above.

So if this theory was true - if the people of the south did indeed welcome Lord Rama the way the people of Ayodhya did their exiled king and called it Diwali, wouldn't every other state that he passed on his way, also welcome him? And if so, how many Diwalis are we talking about then? Confused, I turned to the only one who I always turn to when I face eternal questions about life and other dilemmas - the Internet.

But then, Ramayana is a story, and just like any other story, has so many versions floating on the net that it is impossible to verify what the actual one is, unless a very frustrated Valmiki finds a way to intervene and clarify. So I tried to reason it out - and almost went insane in the process.

The first question I started thinking was - what was the mode of transport? I'd forgotten about the Puspak Viman bit when my brain was processing this. So I'll just take you through the thoughts that ran across my mind. If the theory was true and Rama did indeed go to Ayodhya through south India, he must have actually walked from the southern tip of India all the way up to Ayodhya (somewhere in present-day Uttar Pradesh). I paused to wonder why he walked though. Why didn't Hanuman offer to drop him off at Ayodhya, and do away with the stopovers? But then again, Hanuman's propeller had caught fire - actually, he had lit his propeller to destroy Lanka - and he was probably not in the best flying condition. Or maybe it was because he only had two shoulders - one for Ram and the other for Lakshman - and now there was Sita, who probably preferred walking to the unbelted flying experience on the rather unusual vehicle.

I don't remember seeing any picture of Lord Rama on horseback. So it did look like he walked home. The walking theory also makes sense if you look at the big gap between Dussehra (when Ravana was actually killed) and Diwali, unless the trio decided to take up a good holiday package for a Lanka tour before going home. Anyway, say that he walked. So according to this theory, he was in south India on Day 1 where Diwali v.1 was celebrated, and he had reached Ayodhya by Day 2 for Diwali v.2? Erm, that was some fast walking, considering India's area. Even if he, being the divine one that he was, walked that fast, what about Sita and Lakshman? And as far as I know, everyone arrived in Ayodhya together. I still remember pictures in chapters on Diwali, showing the people of Ayodhya lighting lamps with Rama, Sita and Lakshman walking towards them.

Even if we were to assume that Hanuman did drop them off at the border (perhaps he had no landing rights in Ayodhya) and they walked to their palace from there, surely it wouldn't have taken Hanuman 2 days to fly from the south to the north?

The only way I can explain this would be to assume that Rama & co. reached Rameshwaram first where he got the first welcome-back-party (Diwali v.1), rested the night and then Hanuman flew them all to Ayodhya the next day for welcome-back-party part II (Diwali v.2) the next day. However, this raises another question - what about the regions between Rameshwaram and Ayodhya? Why did the ones close to Rameshwaram decide to go with v.1, while the ones nearer to Ayodhya with v.2? Surely there was no north-south divide in those days? Wasn't the north-south divide invented in 1947 when the Indian people suddenly realised, "Oh shit! The British have left. Whom do we fight now? Damn! Oh oh I know I know! Let's fight each other!" (If you read the Rediff movies website the way I do, you will know what I am talking about - every frickin' article, even it's about the de-enhancement of Rakhi Sawant's enhanced assets, will end with comments where north Indians and south Indians are mud-slinging each other. And suddenly a non-Indian will drop by, laugh at everyone, and the comments will subside, only to arise in the next irrelevant article.)

Update: Thanks to information from TMaYaD and Cinderella, my memory was jogged. Apparently the trio went home in the Puspak viman, arranged by Ravana's brother Vibheeshan. Holy cow! Doesn't this mean that they never even set foot in south India after the Lanka battle? I would assume that the PV took off from Lanka and it was a direct flight to Ayodhya? Sheesh. So this still doesn't explain the 'theory'.

The more I thought - the crazier I went. Our generation still had some good sources of information when we were growing up. We had stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata in our school books. We had Amar Chitra Katha (which I thought was the most brilliant concept ever!). We also had Ramanand Sagar and BR Chopra (I wonder how faithful they were to the text though.) Then came movies like Asoka which tore apart history and literature by getting Kareena Kapoor in a wet half-sari frolicking around the so-not-Asoka-Asoka SRK. Everything is already all mixing up in my head. I'm wondering what muddled version of the ancient epics will be known to the next few generations.


Jaane kya hoga Rama re...



23 comments:

kashika said...

GOLD!!!!!!

*dances like er...maniacs*

coming to the post, sayesha you dont question miracles, okay?
RAM was God, doesnt tht really wash away all the questions.

TMaYaD said...

I know I know!
Rama went back to ayodhya on pushpak'(pushpaka vimanam' in telugu! yeah, I'm southy)
They say it is magical in a way that no matter how many people boarded it there is space for atleast one more person. not like our airdeccan where people actually have to fly standing(I've seen it, believe me, talk about increasing the occupancy). Ravana stole it from Kubera to whome it belongs(pushpak, not airdeccan, which now belongs to the liquor baron, vijay malya ) after they got down at ayodhya, the pushpak was sent back to kubra, in some auto pilot mode no doubt.

as for diwali, atleast I celebrate it for krishna slaying narakasura. I haven't heard about the rama returning to ayodhya story till I went to north India my self. BTW, I haven't seen all of south India and can't say they celebrate it for same reason as mine.

TMaYaD said...

hehe, silver even after the long comment. I thought I would slip the top by the time I completed it ;)

Cinderella said...

hi Sayesha, I think you have missed an important link :)

if whatever shown in Ramayan (the one shown on DD, almost one and a half decade ago) was true, then Vibhishan had sent Ram, Laxman and Sita in that same air-craft (called some type of viman.. I am sorry, I can not recall the name), in which Ravan had brought Sita. I guess, it would have played some real important role in cutting down their traveling hours.

Btw, am happy that you researched on something, thinking that Ram and Ramayan actually happened.. and not just raised a blunt question over their existence.

Jai Sri Ram :)

Cinderella said...

sorry.. sorry.. it was called 'Pushpak Viman'.. :D

ursjina said...

i know i know...ram must hav taken an air deccan ticket..n d flight got delayed..;)..
amazing post!!!..as usual..

Sayesha said...

#Kashika,
Hehe! I don't think this had anything to do with Rama's powers! :)

#TMaYaD,
Oh wow! Thanks for this info! This had totally slipped my mind! I'll do some more research on this! :)

#Cinderella,
Yeah TMaYaD just told me about it - but it still raises the question about the time taken, doesn't it? Also, why did he go to south India if he was on a direct flight from Lanka to Ayodhya? :)

//Btw, am happy that you researched on something, thinking that Ram and Ramayan actually happened.. and not just raised a blunt question over their existence.

Erm... I don't actually believe in their existence. To me Ramayana is a story... it may or may not have been based on real events. :)

#Ursjina,
Sheesh! Poor Air Dhakkan! Everyone is taking a pot shot! :P

Sakshi said...

HEheeehehe.
I think you have the right topic for PhD. Kar dalo bhai - dissertation topic on how Rama may have gotten home.

Sakshi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Bhai aap padhai pe dhyaan do --- ye body mai jugad kar lega na! Ye sab kya ho rela hai aapko?

GG said...

I think the difference is in the calendars - north follows the moon and south follows the sun or vice versa!
I've heard the Ram took 21 days after killing Ravan (Dasehra) to get back to Ayodhya...and hence the celebration! (Or so I have heard...I just celebrate it coz it's fun :))

bellydancer said...

Yeah I heard the same theory from the same colleague about the 2 different days for celebrating Diwali and that was also the first time I heard it! So there is only one Diwali/Deepavali la... heh.

Angelsera said...

recently I was doing some research on Navrathri..and I found out that there are actually two..one is the Devi Navrathri that comes after Ganesh Chaturti and the other is Rama Navrathri which comes sometime in Apr. Having found this I wondered if the one involving Rama is not even near Diwali, couldnt it possibly mean that Dussera that we celebrate actually comes in Apr also? which could aso mean that Diwali may not really b cos of Rama returning...
I am not saying I am right..just that this was swimming in my head a few weeks back when I was reading all those articles..

Ab said...

Im just waiting for the next Indian elections to see if the govt can actually beat Rama... bcos in all probability, thats what it will have to do after the current controversy!

and about cultural mud-slinging, youtube is like, full of it. and so much of time, i check out video's just to enjoy the abusing :D

Anoop Sundaram said...

its rama time now i guess :) with all those fights on rama's existency this one's good :P
rediff articles and the bashing there is better not mentioned - its irritating and alarming to see ppl fighting amongst each other :((

Art said...

Diwali is celebrated for 3 days.. And Returning of Rama is just one of the reasons..
There is a day called Naraka Chaturdashi. This is when Narakasur was killed... This is the first day of Diwali..
Second day is Amavasya- this is when Lakshmi pooja happens..
And third day in our custom is Bali Padyami..

Now I dont know which of these days is considered Rama's home coming..

But its ultimately festival to celebrate Good over Evil :)

Ramkumar said...

hello! is it VHP headquarters, singapore. This is ram speaking.
There is this girl called Sayesha........................................
Thanks for taking care of it.

FYI, there is another popular theory in TN that rama was aryan and ravana was dravidian. In a classic winner-writing-skewed-history, ravana was portrayed wrongly. There is a great literature called ravanakaviyam which talks about this.
Now, how about that!!!

Shekhar said...

Sayesha ben (that's how we Gujjus say it :D ), will comment on the post later. Just dropped in to say...

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S !!!!!

Badhai hooooooo !!! India World Cup jeet gaya...... :D :D :D

satish said...

yupp, we won!

are bharat bhaiyya wait kar rahe the apne hero ka back home. remember???

aur diwali is celebrated for five days. dhan teras, narak chaturdasi, lakshmi pujan, govardhan pooja aur bhai dooj.

Experts. Always rely on Experts.

Adorable Pancreas said...

We celebrate Diwali on the same day everyone does, as far as I know. I'm not sure, though. Should pay more attention to the dates than to the crackers.

Bivas said...

Time lag betwen dussehra n diwali cud be attributed to Vibhishan's Coronation and the subsequent hospitality offered by him to Rama & co.
But then the earlier Diwali funda needs to be researched further for sure :-)...maybe they stopped somewhr in south India to refuel ;-)...assuming that, mid-air refuelling is a recent technological breakthrough!

rt said...

Having lived in a place where people from all regions stay i have seen that its indeed celebrated on 2 diff days and sometimes on same day also..
(depending on position of stars)
the reasons for celebration i am not sure of though

Vishal said...

Sayesha,

Very very surprised by your post....wrote something on similar lines on mine - am sharing the credits with you though :-).

Vishal
sandarbh.blogspot.com