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Shri Ram, Dussehra, Ramlila, Vijayadashami

Dussehra is observed on the last day of Navaratri or Durga puja and it falls on the tenth day of the bright half of Ashvina (September-October). This Hindu festival is celebrated all over India to mark the triumph of Lord Rama over the demon king, Ravana. Dussehra symbolizes the victory of good over evil. In old days the kings generally marched their forces on this day against their enemies. During the nine days preceding Dussehra (the Navratri), Ramlila, an enactment of the life of Lord Rama which is based on the epic story of the Ramayana, is staged at various places in most of the cities, towns and villages in northern India. During its performance the Ramayana is constantly recited accompanied by music. It presents a fine blending of music, dance, mime and poetry.

ramlila, ravan dahan, dussehra, vijayadashami

On the tenth day, larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnath and his brother Kumbhakarna, are burned. These effigies are filled with fireworks. The result is a deafening blast, enhanced by the shouts of merriment and triumph from the spectators. By burning the effigies the people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of virtue and goodness. Elaborate and gay processions depicting various scenes of the Ramayana in the form of tableaus are taken out through bazaars and main streets.

According to a different legend attached to this day, the mighty demon Mahishasura vanquished the gods and their king, Indra. They then approached the Holy Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who combined their powers in the form of Divine mother Durga. Equipped with lethal weapons, riding a ferocious lion, the Goddess in all her awesome majesty, vanquished the evil. This day, thus, also celebrates the magnificence and omnipotence of Goddess Durga. So this festival is also called Vijayadashami which literally means victory on tenth day.

durgapooja, dussehra, mahishasurmardini, goddess durga, vijayadashami

mysore dussehra, royal dussehra

Mysore, the city of palaces in Karnataka celebrates the ten day Dussehra in a royal style. The Mysore Palace is illuminated with a myriad lights. Majestic, caparisoned elephants lead a colorful procession through the gaily dressed streets of the city and a torch light parade and dance and musical events enliven the tranquil city.

In West Bengal, the festival is called Durga Pooja and puja pandals have beautifully decorated images of the goddess Durga and people gather here in large numbers to enjoy the festivities. The vibrant festivities last for ten days, of which nine nights are spent in worship, and on the tenth day, the idols are carried out in procession for immersion (visarjan) in a river or pond.

In Gujarat, the exuberant Navaratri celebrations include dancing the lively and fascinating Garba dance. The men and women dance around an earthen lamp while singing devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic clapping of hands and wooden sticks.

In Himachal Pradesh, a week -long fair is held in the hill town of Kullu, From the little  temples in the hills, deities are brought in elaborate processions to the mainground in Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, Raghunathji or Lord Rama.

In Tamil Nadu, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity, the next three days to Saraswati, Goddess of learning and arts and the last three days to Shakti, Goddess of might and power. Vijayadashami is an auspicious occasion for children to commence their education in classical dance and music, and to pay homage to their teachers.

Some Recipes for Dussehra Dishes :