It was a long walk by all means. Twenty one days of non-stop walking with maybe pit stops to pitch their tents along the way with no trouble from immigration and visa authorities. The mythological journey of Rama, Sita and Lakshman seems so much to be steeped in numbers that it’s hard to doubt that it might be mythology and not real.
Think about this. The eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Rama, killed the ten-headed demon Ravana on the tenth day of Dussehra, and then walked 21 days across 2,589 km to Ayodhya, after 14 years of exile, where their return is celebrated as Diwali over five days! Is your mind reeling? Grab a cup of Oolong tea and settle down.
We may not have exact documentation on the incarnations of Vishnu, or how many heads Ravan had. (Actually, he did have ten heads, because I saw all of them burning last week.) And while the doubters amongst you wonder how it was possible to do a cross-country walk in 21 days, stop! First of all, they were Gods, and Gods can do anything. But also, they belonged to a different era, Treta Yug, where human beings were genetically superior, taller, stronger if mythology is to be believed (which is actually what I’m tempted into doing!). Unlike us Kalyug shorties, who were forced to invent trains and airplanes to travel the distance. The shame!
But get this. Did you know that it actually takes a human (even from Kalyug) exactly 21 days to traverse that distance (if you take NH30 and don’t get lost). You don’t need to trust me. Trust Google maps! This fascinating piece of satellite evidence completely overthrew me and makes me want to believe in the virtuous Gods and Goddess, large, magical, eagles that could fight demons and carry humans on their backs and superhuman monkeys! The primate army that helped him build a bridge from Rameshwaram in what is now Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka. (It turns out satellites have shown evidence of this bridge as well.) This monumental victory is celebrated as Dussehra, after which, he, his wife and brother walked back home to Ayodhya where they were welcomed in a five-day festival that we call Diwali.
A most fascinating story, if any. All this steeping into mythology (and google) makes me want to believe that good does win over evil, and that what we put out into the world is what we receive. It makes me want to believe in the goodness of people and the very real passage of time. But most of all, this makes me believe that no matter what the facts might be, what we believe in is ultimately what is real. That festivals are a time for joy and love and celebration. That we must love when we have the time and give when we can. And there’s no better time to give if not now.