My India – Festivals
Festivals of India – Dussehra
The nine-day Navaratri festival culminates with the celebration of Dussehra or Vijayadashami (victory on tenth day). Dussehra is celebrated as the victory of Lord Rama over demon king Ravana of Lanka. Dussehra also commemorates the triumph of warrior Goddess Durga over the buffalo-headed demon called Mahishasura, giving the goddess her name Mahishasura-Mardini (the slayer of Mahishasura).
The date of the festival is determined according to the lunar calendar. (Due to an astrological determination, Dussehra actually falls on Navami this year, which is the ninth day of Navaratri).
Though this blissful occasion is observed across the country, Delhi and Varanasi are popular places to witness the celebrations. Elsewhere in India, Dussehra festivities take place in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Mysore in Karnataka, and Kota in Rajasthan. Mysore Dussehra celebrations are particularly famous. In West Bengal, Navaratri and Dussehra are celebrated as Durga Puja.
In northern India, plays and dance performances known as Ramaleela, depicting the life of Rama, commonly take place in the lead up to Dussehra day.
Ramaleela is based on the much loved Hindu epic Ramayana. They tell the life story of Lord Rama, culminating with his defeat of the demon Ravana on the tenth day, Dussehra.
The Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra is an Indian cultural institution that runs a notable school for music, dance and performing arts. Its been putting on a Ramaleela dance-drama every year since 1957.
Burning of Dussehra Effigies
On Dussehra, giant effigies of the demon Ravana, his son Meghnada, and his brother Kumbhakarna are burned all over India. These effigies are filled with fireworks.
World’s Tallest Ravana Effigy Burned in Barara Town of Ambala
World’s tallest effigy of demon king Ravana can be found in the small town of Barara (around 25 km from Ambala cantonment). It stands tall at 210 feet in 2014! For the last four years, the effigy has found mention in the Limca Book of World Records for being the tallest effigy to be burnt.
The organizers spent around Rs 20 lakh this year to erect the effigy. The sword alone is over 50 feet long. Around 60 quintals of steel along with 30 quintals of bamboo, and 10 quintals of other material has been used to fill the effigy. Over two lakh people from Barara and surrounding areas witnessed the effigy went in flames.
In contrast to other parts of India where Dussehra is only celebrated for one day, Mysore Dasara takes place over the whole 10 days of the Navaratri festival.
Mysore Palace Dussehra
The Mysore Palace in Karnataka is dazzlingly illuminated by almost 100,000 light bulbs, from 7 pm until 10 pm, during the Dussehra festival.
On the last day of the festival, a traditional procession (known as Jumboo Savari) winds its way through the streets of Mysore, starting at noon from Mysore Palace and ending in Bannimantap. It features an idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, carried atop a lavishly decorated elephant.
Mysore Dussehra Elephants
Colorful painted elephants form part of the parade at the Mysore Dussehra festival celebrations.
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May the spirit of Onam remains everywhere.
The festival epitomizes the triumph of good over evil.