Few kilometres away from the urban city of Noida lies a small village called Bisrakh. Narrow bylanes, pockmarked roads, also fits the description of this village, like any other village tucked away in Greater Noida but there is something else which makes this village important, mythologically.
During the festivity of Dussehra when the whole country gears up to burn the effigy of the ten-headed Ravana, the jovial atmosphere elsewhere is replaced by gloom in Bisrakh. This small town is believed to be the birthplace of demon king Ravana, the emperor of Lanka.
According to a legend by the villagers here, Ravana had spent his early years in this village, Bisrakh, which is an aberration of the word, Vishravas, name of Ravana’s father. Vishravas established Bisrakha Dhaam and prayed here for the first time.
Ramadas Maharaj, chief priest of the Shiva temple where Vishravas used to pray, said, “The self-formed octagonal lingam was discovered a hundred years ago, two and half feet of which is visible above the earth, and another eight feet lies below the surface.”
Both Ravana and his father were a keen devotee of Shiva and worshipped here. Inhabitants of Bisrakh neither organise Ramlila, nor rejoice the triumph of good over evil. Moreover, the locals fearfully accept a myth, according to which, Ravana’s curse falls on anyone who tries to celebrate the festival.
Dishondi, a 74-year-old local says, “We tried celebrating Dussehra once or twice, but couldn’t. Whenever we made an attempt, someone or the other died in the village.”
“It’s not that the villagers pray Ravana, they worship Shiva, but admire Ravana for his knowledge. This is our way of paying respect to Ravana,” concludes Ramadas, a local.
Yagyas are performed during navratras before the ancient shivling, so that Ravana’s soul can rest in peace. Patli Devi, 78, says, “I do not allow children to burn images of Ravana in here, whatever it is, Ravana is the son of this soil.”
But children find it hard to keep away from the celebrations and excitement that Dusshera brings. They slip out of the village to see Ramlila; to watch Ravana consigned to flames.
“To see Ramlila we have to go to Noida or Ghaziabad,” Ramesh says ruefully.
This village is also a land of mysteries hidden underneath, as the villagers have witnessed skeletons and other archaic ornaments and utensils of archaeological importance. Ramadas claims he himself has seen buried skeletons of human beings. “If you will start digging near the temple region, you are sure to find something or the other,” asserts Ramadas.
Though people do pray to the Lord Rama, the significance of Ravana in this village, surely keeps the villagers away from all forms of celebration related to Dussehra.