Dussehra Festival

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Oct 302009

Dussehra in Delhi

dusherra-in-delhiDussehra is one of the most significant Hindu festivals, celebrated with enthusiasm throughout the sub-continent. It remembers the victory of the god Rama over the demon-king Ravana, who had been foolish enough to abduct his wife, Sita.

In Delhi the festival is celebrated by the burning of effigies in private back gardens, accompanied by far more elaborate bonfires in public places, when huge wooden effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkarn and his son Meghnad are erected and stuffed with fireworks. A quite dazzling, although somewhat chaotic and dangerous, pyrotechnics display follows, as the demons are burnt and the fires light up the night sky.

Hindus throughout India celebrate Dussehra Festival, although by different names. Also known as Vijaya Dashmi (‘Vijay’ meaning ‘victory’ and ‘Dashmi meaning ‘tenth day’), Dussehra festival has a number of legends associated with it. It is believed that it was on this day that Lord Rama killed the demon king Ravana and took over his empire, Lanka. In the Bengal area, Dussehra is believed to be on that day when Goddess Durga annihilated the evil demon Mahisasura. In essence, the festival of Dushehra signifies the conquest of good over evil.

The festival of Dussehra is celebrated with much fervor and gusto in Delhi. It falls approximately twenty days before the festival of Diwali. Vijay Dashmi celebrations in New Delhi, India are incomplete without the famous Ramlila (enactment of the great epic Ramayana). Ramlilas start a few days before Dussehra and culminate on the day of the festival. After the final act of the Ramlila gets over, huge effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghnath are burnt as mark of the destruction of evil. Lots of fireworks are visible as the effigies are burnt, signifying the festival of Dussehra.

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