Dussehra is celebrated as a festival of good’s victory over evil. It was on this day that Lord Rama defeated and killed Lanka’s evil king Ravana. Large effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghanada, are erected and set on fire on the evening of Dussehra or Vijayadashami. Dussehra is celebrated with much enthusiasm across India with people offering prayers to Lord Rama.
However, there are places where people worship Ravana and pray for his departed soul. The reason behind this affection for Ravana in many cases is his connection to the specific place. Some places worship because of his devotion to Lord Shiva. Here is a list of places in India where Ravana is worshipped
Bisrakh, Uttar Pradesh
Bisrakh village in Uttar Pradesh’s Greater Noida is believed to be the birthplace of Ravana. Many suggest that the village derives its name from Ravana’s father’s name Vishrava. During Navratri, yagnas are performed by village locals to pray for the peace of Ravana’s departed soul
Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh
People in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur also worship Ravana due to the place’s connection with his wife Mandodri. It is believed that the place is the maternal home of Mandodri making Ravana the son-in-law of Mandsaur. Hence, people here worship Ravana and mourn his death on Dussehra while praying for the departed soul. There are many Ravana temples in the region.
The Maudgil Brahmans of Jodhpur are said to have come here during Ravana’s wedding with Mandodri. The wedding took place at an altar known as Ravan Kin Chanwari at Mandore. Instead of celebrating the festival of Dussehra by burning Ravana’s effigies, Maudgil Brahmans perform Shraadh and Pind Daan for the Lanka King as per the Hindu rituals.
People belonging to the Gond tribe in Mahrashtra’s Gadchiroli worship Ravana and his son Meghanada as Gods. According to the tribe’s beliefs, Ravana was never demonised in the Valmiki Ramayana and it was clearly mentioned that he did not do anything wrong to Sita. It was only in the Tulsidas Ramayana that Ravana was established as a cruel king and devilish. The tribals offer prayers to Ravana during a tribal festival – Falgun.
Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
Ravan Dahan is not carried out even in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district. According to beliefs, Ravana impressed Lord Shiva with his devotion and austerity at Baijnath, Kangra. Shiva appeared in front of him and granted the book. Hence, Lanka King is admired as a great devotee of Lord Shiva in the region.
In Karnataka’s Kolar district, Ravana is worshipped because of his devotion to Lord Shiva. In a procession during the harvest festival, his ten-headed and twenty armed idol alongside Lord Shiva’s idol is worshipped by locals.