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Ravana Worshipped in Kolar District of Karnataka

Ravana, the demon King of Lanka in epic Ramayana, is always portrayed in the negative. For majority of the people, he is the villain and demon who is ultimately killed by Lord Ram. But there are also several positive traits to the character of Ravana, which is worshipped by certain communities in Hinduism. For centuries, there is a tradition of worshipping Lankadipathi, the king of Lanka, by the people in Kolar District of Karnataka during the harvest festival.

One of the positive traits in Ravana’s character was his unfathomable devotion for Lord Shiva. The people of Kolar District celebrate and worship this particular aspect of Ravana. Lord Shiva is popularly referred as Ishwara in this region because he is here known mainly as Gangadhareshwara, Ramalingeswara and Markandeshwara. A procession of a ten-headed idol of Ravana along with an idol of Shiva and the village deity takes place in the annual harvest festival procession.

Interestingly, there is also a temple dedicated to Ravana in Malavalli taluk in Mandya District in Karnataka.
N Jagannath Prakash writes about this unique worship in Deccan Herald
The idol of Ravana with its 10 heads and 20 arms is larger than the idol of Shiva in all processions in the region.

In Thayalur of Mulbagal Taluk, the Lankeshwara Festival is celebrated with an intricately-carved chariot, gaily decorated with lamps. In Vakkaleri, Ravana reigns in a palanquin erected over a tractor. In Sugatur Ravana is accompanied by Kodandarama Swamy, while in Vakkaleri he is accompanied by Anjaneya and Sri Ramachandra.

When the idol of Ravana is brought out for the festival there is ritual sacrifice of sheep and fowl in some places. In other places, as a prelude to the festival, there is offering of food.
During the Ravana festival in Thayalur, a procession of Ganga Shirasu (Shiva’s knotted plait representing River Ganga) procession is taken out. Huvina Karaga is also celebrated at the same time. The worship of Ravana takes place at night. Lamps are lit in the entire village and various cultural programs are organized.