A celebration of the victory of good over evil, Vijayadashmi or popularly known as Dussehra, is celebrated across India with great zeal and fervor. The months of September and October ring in the optimistic vibes of festivity, celebrating the great cultural heritage of India. Dussehra is a significant festival of Hindus. The festival of Dussehra is celebrated in the honor of Lord Rama across northern and western India. The prismatic diversity of India leads to innumerable narratives of Dussehra across the largest Democracy in the world. The entire nation exhibits its diverse hues. For nine days people perform fast along with religious rites so as to sanctify themselves. However, on the tenth day, all the pessimistic thoughts, malice, hatred, greed and anger are burnt through the physical burning of Ravana’s effigy. The festival of Dussehra not only signifies the victory of good over evil but is symptomatic of optimism, courage, and purity of one’s heart. However, in South India, Dussehra celebrations are held with immense grandeur and splendor. People irrespective of their creed, culture or religion gather to eliminate all evil and pessimistic things, garner strength and hope through the positivity of Dussehra to work with purity of heart and honest actions towards achieving one’s goals and vanquishing negativity. The essence of the festival of Dussehra provides strength and motivation, ignites hope, and encourages one to get past all obstacles and emerge victorious.
Vijayadashmi or Dussehra as it is popularly known is celebrated on the 10th day of Shukla Paksh in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin. In 2018, Dussehra will be celebrated on October 19th. However, the nine days festival of Navratri which leads to Dussehra will be observed from October 10th to October 18th. During these nine days, blessings of Goddess Kali is invoked and on the tenth day, Navratri culminates as Dussehra. The ten day long celebrations are marked with religious rituals, Ramlila fairs along with the enactment of scenes from Ramayana. However, on the tenth day, there is an enactment of Ravan Dehan scene which is followed by burning of effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkarna.
Though Dussehra is enthusiastically celebrated across India, the celebrations of Dussehra in Kullu, Mysore and Varanasi draw special attention.
Dussehra Celebrations in Kullu:
Kullu is known across the world for its exceptional Dussehra celebrations. The celebrations of Dussehra in Kullu starts on the tenth day of Dussehra and it goes on for seven days. However, in Kullu, the effigies of Ravana are not burnt. The fair grounds are alive with cultural performances and exhibitions from people across India. In a procession, devotees carry the idols of Gods and Goddesses on their heads to Dhalpur, where they meet Lord Raghunath. However, on the last day, the procession is taken to River Beas, where a pile of wood is burnt to mark the symbolic burning of Ravana’s Lanka.
Dussehra Celebrations in Mysore:
The city of Mysore celebrates Dussehra in an iconoclastic way. Mysore Dasara or “Nadahabba” as it is popularly known, is a state festival of the Karnataka. It is a tradition that goes back to four hundred years. Mysore city hosts this festival as the victory of Goddess Chamundeshwari over demon Mahishasura. Mysore is known to celebrate Nadahabba with grandeur and pomp to mark the day. Mysore city’s royal heritage ensures that the festival is celebrated for a span of ten days. To mark Nadahabba, almost 100,000 light bulbs dazzlingly illuminates the Mysore Palace. Cultural performances are an indispensable part of the Mysore Dasara. Dasara exhibition which is being held since 1880 is an awe inspiring exhibition. However, on the tenth day, a royal procession follows a decorated elephant carrying the idols of the worshiped goddess. The elephant procession starts at the Mysore Palace and leads up to the Dasara Ground.
Dussehra Celebrations in Varanasi:
The most fascinating and colorful place in India, Varanasi is renowned for the World’s Oldest Ramlila Performance. The experience of Dussehra in Varanasi is altogether different as compared to other states of India. The World’s oldest Ramlila performance has been running in Varanasi since the past 200 years. Ramlila, the dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Rama, takes place over a month every year. Dussehra celebrations in Varanasi are endowed with vibrancy and splendor, here you can experience Delhi style Ramlila fairs on one hand and Kolkata spirit Durga Puja celebrations on the other. In Ramnagar, 15kms away from Varanasi, the most famous Ramlila shows are held. The majority of Bengali community in Varanasi ensures that Varanasi is colored with ‘Puja spirit’ for Goddess Durga.
Dussehra Celebrations in Gujarat:
Dussehra in Gujarat is celebrated with full fervour and enthusiasm. The chief highlight of the festival is the Garba and Dandiya performances which can be seen at myriad places all over the state. People dress beautifully in traditional attires on this day and celebrate Dussehra by burning effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnad. Arti is also sung on this day and people dance to the tune of folk songs. The nine nights just before the Dusshera are also celebrated with merriment. All nine nights people play garba with dandiya sticks and dance throughout the night and relish various Gujarati dishes.
Dussehra Celebrations in Delhi:
Delhi, the country capital brings Dussehra in the most charismatic manner. There is non-stop fun for nine days in which a lot of dancing events and fairs are organised. Ramlila performances take place all over the city in which scenes from Ramayana are performed for 9 days. On the tenth day, huge effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkarana and son Meghnada are burnt.
Dussehra Celebrations in Varanasi:
Varanasi is known for hosting world’s oldest Ramlila performance which has been running since the last 200 years. Ramlila takes place for over a month every year in Varanasi which appears like a mix of Delhi and Kolkata’s Ramlila. During this time Varanasi, one of the most sacred places in India, comes back to life and there is a wave a of happiness which can be seen all over the city.