12 Headed Demon
Posted on June 14, 2016 at 07:11 AM
Tharu is a tribe community who live in forests of foothills of Himalayas in India & Nepal. Their gradual contact with the world outside introduced many religious beliefs and customs which reflect in their daily life as well as on special occasions.
It was during the last decade of last century, I decided to document the changes in their life. They celebrate Janmasthami and Holi with much joy and vigor. In a village in Palia, I found an interesting wall-painting made for Janmasthami Pooja. Primitive human forms attracted me, but a larger figure with many heads stood out. I was really puzzled and couldn’t decipher this figure. When asked, I was told that it was the demon who abducted Sita Ma. Oh, it was Rawan! So I counted the heads and the number was twelve. “But Rawan was ten headed,” I inquired, thinking that it was by mistake that twelve heads were drawn. “nahi, yah barmudwa hai“(No, it is twelve headed demon).
Only God knows how a ten headed demon of Ramayan, became barmudwa for these people but it reveals what the missionaries have done and how various versions of stories have got embroiled to create a new story. A story of their own.