One Festival Different Celebrations: Witness the various colors of Dussehra this Holiday Season.
Dussehra is preceded by nine days of festivities which are marked by various activities and rituals. Dussehra (or Vijayadashmi) is a day which is celebrated to honor the triumph of Lord Ram over Ravana and triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the demon buffalo. Whether it is the victory of Lord Ram or Durga Maa, the festival symbolizes the ultimate victory of good over evil. Demonstrating that no matter how strong the evil becomes, the good will always win at the end.
The festival is usually celebrated during the month of September or October. Following are some of the places whose manner and enthusiasm of celebrating Dussehra is most famous worldwide:
Kullu Dussehra is a festival which takes place in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is a seven day festival which begins on the day when Dussehra is celebrated in the rest of the country. The origin of the festival can be traced back to the 17th century.
It has been declared as an international festival by the state government in the year 1972. Many national and international stalls, exhibitions and cultural activities take place within the seven days of the festival.
The idol of Lord Raghunathji (Lord Ram) comes from the temple of Raghunathji to the Dhalpur Maidan in a chariot. More than two hundred local Gods and Goddesses come all across from the valley, in palanquins, to the Dhalpur Maidan to honor Lord Ragunathji. The various deities, build in gold or silver, are dressed in colorful clothes.
On the last day people dance and sing, while taking the chariot of Raghunathji near the bank of the Beas river. A giant bonfire, signifying Ravan’s Lanka, is burnt. The festival finally comes to an end with the ritual of animal sacrifice.
Durga Puja is the festival which is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm at many places in India. The Eastern part of India is where the extensive celebrations take place. Durga Puja of Kolkotta is the most renowned among them. For the people of Kolkatta it is the biggest event which takes up an important place in the social, cultural and religious aspects of their life.
Mahalaya is the starting point of Durga Puja celebrations. It occurs one day before the beginning of Navratri. The remaining ten days people pray to Durga Maa and perform various rituals in her respect;fast and feast; get involved in traditional singing and dancing. On the eleventh day from Mahalaya, the idols of Durga Maa and other deities (which are made of earth) are taken in a procession to a river, lake or ocean and are submerged in it.
Various makeshift structures, called Pandals, are erected all over the city of Kolkatta. Festivities start in full swing from the sixth day of the Navratri. Many of the Pandals are based on certain themes which can be historical, mythological or related to day-to-day issues, news, or imaginative ideas. The idols of Durga Maa along with other deities like Ganesha, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, and Kartik are displayed lavishly. The most prominent idols are those of Maa Durga.
People hop from one Pandal to another to see the elaborate decorations of various Pandals. There are some Pandals which are very famous and witness maximum footfalls.
Mysore is a city in the state of Karnataka. Mysore Dasara is a ten day festival which celebrates the victory of Chamundeshwari over the demon Mahishasura. Mysore Dasara has been celebrated for about four hundred years.
A large number of tourists, both national and international, come each year to witness the grand festivities of the royal festival of the state. During the festival the Mysore palace is brightened up with thousands of bulbs at night from 7 pm to 10 pm. And right in front of the palace many cultural and religious programs take place each day during Dasara.
On the 9th day, after the worshiping, the Royal Sword is taken on a grand procession which includes decorated animals like elephants, horses and camels. On the tenth day, that is the day of Vijayadashmi, the royal couple of Mysore worships Devi Chamundeshwari. Later on the idol is mounted atop an elephant, on a golden seat, to be paraded in the city. The procession is also accompanied by other elephants, camels, horses and various tableaux, groups of dancers, musicians. The procession is grand and opulent in every way.
There are many things going on in the city of Mysore during the ten days which lightens up every aspect of cultural and social life of the people. There are festivals of – dance, music and theatre taking place along with exhibitions, fairs and matches of Vajrumusthi which is one of the earliest styles of martial arts.
The Ramlila of Varanasi is famous for its uncommon and traditional way of portraying Ramayan. It takes place in the city of Ramnagar. Over here the story of Ramayana takes a month to enact.
Generally, Ramlila is performed in other parts of the country on one particular stage or a few stages located in close proximity. But in Ramnagar the entire town becomes the venue for performance. Different areas serve as different locations of the story.
To add to the uniqueness of Ramlila, the performances are made without the help of any technology like mikes, loudspeakers or electric lights. It takes place in natural light. In the dark, light from the lamps are used for illumination. People listen to the recitals of Ramcharitmanas and other dialogues in complete silence. Audiences move around from one location to another in order to see the one of its kind Ramlila.
In addition to the burning of Ravan’s effigy, Bharat milap is also a much celebrated occasion which is witnessed by the king of Varanasi.
The festivities of Dussehra take place for 75 days in the Jagdalpur city of Chhattisgarh. The majority of people in this region are tribals. The kind of Dussehra celebration they have is not related to the Ramayana. Instead it is a celebration of the assembly of Devi Maoli and her sisters.
Various local Goddesses are brought in to the Danteshwari temple by several priests with great fanfare. It is their way of honoring the Devi. Then a Rath Yatra is taken out in a chariot which is two stories high.
This Rath is very special because it is made by the village people using simple tools and weighs around 30 tonnes. The Tourism Department of the state lights about a thousand lamps to brighten up the way on which the Rath moves. It is said that dragging the chariot brings good luck.
It is the largest city in the state of Gujrat. Navratri precedes Dussehra by nine days. These nine days consist of prayers, rituals and fasting which the devotees undertake for Goddess Durga.
Navratri takes place all over India but the festivities that happen in Gujrat are extraordinary. It is the most popular festival of the state. It involves praying, fasting, feasting, singing, traditional dancing and dressing. The Navratri celebrations of Ahmedabad are particularly famous.
The actual celebrations start in the evening. People get out of their homes in their best traditional dresses and jewelry to reach out to a garba ground near them, or to a famous one. People perform Garba or Dandiya raas on the songs of singers, who sing live along with an orchestra, or on recorded Gujrati and even bollywood music.
In the dance venue the atmosphere is that of a fair. There are stalls offering various delicacies and handicrafts.
The religious and cultural fervor associated with Dussehra can be best witnessed in the places mentioned above. One should make it a point to see them at least once. The magnitude and passion of the festival are unique to these places.