Sizzle and scorch, blaze and burn and then the grand finale of fireworks and crackers, a shower of lights and a celebration of the triumph of good over evil! No, not some pyromaniac's dream come true; just one of India's best-loved festivals: Dussehra. A ten-day extravaganza culminating in Vijayadashami, the Hindu festival of Dussehra marks the God Rama's 'vijay' which means victory and subsequent rescue of his consort Sita from the clutches of the wicked king Ravana after a long and bloody battle.
The pageants and processions of the Dussehra festival celebrations end in an explosive display of pyro-technics as giant wood-and-paper effigies of the ten-headed demon King Ravana, his son Meghnad and brother Kumbhkaran are set alight. These effigies are burnt within the presence of huge crowds who view this as a traditional act of burning the evil.
Dussehra Festival Celebrations
That's not all there is to Dussehra, for this extremely popular festival wears a different garb in different parts of India. Over much of northern India, amateur theatre groups don paint and costumes to re-enact the Dussehra story at Ramlilas in every neighbourhood, while in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, feasting and fasting, whirling garba and click-clacking dandiya are an integral part of the festivities.
Dussehra Festival will be celebrated on 22nd of October in 2016.
Dussehra Celebrations in Kullu
In the stunningly beautiful Kullu Valley, Dussehra festival is celebrated with a procession of idols, a ritual sacrifice of animals- and plenty of locally-brewed liquor to keep the revellers' spirits high!’
Dussehra celebrations in Kullu are world famous as more than two hundred deities are believed to meet for the unusual Dussehra celebration which begin on Vijayadashami itself and the celebrations continue for seven days.
The celebrations include a dazzlingly decorated chariot carrying the idol of Lord Raghunathji which is pulled from its place in Dhalpur Maidan to another spot across the Maidan by big ropes. The celebrations are attended by various other village deities mounted on colourful palanquins. The pulling of ropes which forms a huge procession is considered as sacred by the local Kullu people.
Interestingly it is mandatory for all the village deities to attend the Dussehra celebrations at Kullu.
On the last day of the festival the chariot is taken to the banks of River Beas where a pile of wood and grass are burnt symbolising the burning of Lanka. This ritual is followed by the custom of sacrificing chosen animals.
Whether it's a solemn puja dedicated to Laxmi, Saraswati and Shakti - as is the custom down south- or a ten-day whirl of puja pandals or navratra celebrations, music and feasting- as is the norm in Bengal and Assam - Vijayadashami/Dussehra remains one of India's most exuberant festivals. A time for rejoicing, a time for fun- and a time to celebrate the victory of good over bad, right over wrong.
History of Dussehra
The most popular legend associated with Dussehra festival is that of Lord Rama. Lord Rama went to Lanka along with his brother Laxman, devotee Hanuman and the army of monkeys to rescue his wife Sita from the shackles of demon King Ravana. Lord Rama defeated and killed the ten headed demon king Ravana and rescued his wife Sita. Since then Dussehra is celebrated as a victory of good over evil.
Durga Puja 2016
The Bengali version of Dussehra, Durga Puja/ Durga Pujo is, as its name suggests, dedicated to the worship of West Bengal's most beloved deity- the goddess Durga.
Strings of deeps and diyas, platefuls of mithai, the crackle of pattakas and the sparkle of phuljharis. That's the festive season of Diwali - light and bright, all glitter and flash.