On Dussehra, when all Hindus celebrate the victory of good over evil and burn effigies of Ravana, one quaint temple in Kanpur will open its doors for those who worship the demon king.
Known as the Kailasha temple outside Chinmastika Devi temple in the Shivala area of Kanpur, it has a ten-headed idol of Ravan.
In this temple, Ravana is held captive for 364 days and the temple is opened only for one day — Vijay Dashami (Dussehra).
It is believed that the sight of Ravana in this temple not only kills evil thoughts but also sharpens the mind.
On Dussehra, devotees from far and wide throng the Ravana temple. There are four temples of Ravana across the country, but the temple in Kanpur is one of its kind in Uttar Pradesh.
At the time when people chant ‘Siyapati Ram Chandra ki jai’ during ‘Ravan dahan’ at Ramlilas in Kanpur, another set of people make a beeline to worship Lankapati in the Shivala area.
This year too, ‘puja’ and ‘aarti’ of Ravan will start from 9 a.m. on Dussehra and will continue till Ravan ‘Dahan’ in the evening.
Known as ‘Dashanan Temple’, its construction is believed to have been done about 50 years after the main temple was built in 1868.
The demon king’s temple is built outside Chinmastika Devi temple because it is believed that Ravana was also the ‘chowkidar’ (guard) of the Goddess.
Dhananjay Tiwari, who is a priest at the temple, says, “People throng this temple for a day to have ‘darshan’ of Ravana. In the evening, once the effigy of Ravana is set on fire on Dussehra, the doors of this temple are closed for a year.”
Anirudh Prasad Bajpai, trustee of the Ravana temple, said the demon king’s temple was one among many others located on Kailasha temple complex in Shivala.
“It was constructed by Maharaj Guru Prasad Shukla, who was a native of Unnao. On Dussehra day, a huge crowd visits the temple to offer prayers and attend the ‘aarti’. Preparations are on for this year’s programmes,” he said.
Ramraj, a local shop owner, who sells flowers and garlands outside the Ravana temple, says, “It is the common belief that on Dussehra day, Ravana comes to this temple. The ‘darshan’ of Ravana gives the message that evil never prospers.”
The priest says that Ravana was one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable kings who worshiped Lord Shiva, but his evil intention in kidnapping Sita led to his downfall.
“He was an egoist despite being wise,” he says.
A fair is also organised to mark the occasion. The demon king’s idol is decorated, earthen lamps are lit and an ‘aarti’ is performed. It is believed that offering mustard oil and ‘turai’ (ridged gourd) flowers wards off all bad planetary effects.