I am delighted to be here at the Ramleela Dussehra Celebration organized by Sri Dharmic Leela Committee.
I extend my warm greetings and good wishes to the people of our country on the auspicious occasion of Dussehra, a colourful festival celebrated with great fervour and zeal all over the country.
As per Hindu beliefs, today is the day when Lord Rama defeated the demon king Ravana. It is also believed that this is the day when Goddess Durga rid the world of the demon Mahishasura.
Whichever epic you choose to believe in, it is clear that Dussehra symbolizes the victory of good over evil, of righteousness and virtue over sinfulness.
The festival is a reminder to each and every one of us to tread the path of righteousness with unwavering commitment. As we burn the effigies of Ravana today, let us simultaneously burn all the demonic traits that lie dormant within us.
To me, Dussehra is the celebration of eternal human values and morals. It is the celebration of the victory of “dharma” over “adharma”.
Rama is supposed to be the embodiment of “dharma”, or righteous behaviour.
Lord Rama’s kingdom was in many ways an ideal kingdom.
Mahatma Gandhi, whose 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated this year around the world, dreamt that India should aim for Ram Rajya.
Writing in ‘Young India’ in 1929, Gandhiji had said: “Whether Ram of my imagination ever lived on this earth, the ancient ideal of the Ramayana is undoubtedly one of true democracy in which the meanest citizen could be sure of swift justice without an elaborate and costly procedure.”
Let that resolute commitment to justice, good governance and welfare of the people continue to inspire us in our journey as a nation and help us make rapid progress on all fronts.
My dear sisters and brothers,
Festivals reflect the composite culture and rich heritage of our country and its traditions. They spread happiness and foster unity and close relationship of human beings with nature.
The Ramleela of India is a folk tradition which has been recognized by the UNESCO as a part of World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Since ancient times, Lord Rama’s glorious tales have spread throughout South East Asia.
Undoubtedly, Ramayana is a heritage of the entire humanity. We must make the best efforts to preserve, propagate and deepen our understanding of this immortal epic.
Ramayana has deeply permeated Indian consciousness. People across the country own Rama. They closely associate and identify with Rama Katha.
And the tradition is still alive and continuing.
Today, as we assemble here to burn the effigies of Ravana, symbolizing the destruction of evil, let us pause and think as to what are the core values of the Ramayana.
The epic of Ramayana reminds us of our duty towards the world, society and family. Ramayana defines the relationship of human beings with each other, and with mother earth, nature, birds and animals.
This message gains new relevance in the current global context of formidable challenges to world peace and prosperity.
We will do well to draw lessons from Rama’s life and perfect the art of living together and tread the path of peace and inclusive growth.
I once again extend my best wishes to each and every one you on the occasion of Dussehra celebrations. May this festival bring happiness, peace and prosperity to our nation and the world.