Dussehra, which ends the ten-day festival of Navratri is celebrated with great zeal throughout India. Depending upon their culture and religious believes people in different parts of India celebrate the festival in their own way.
In Northern India, Ramlila and burning the effigies of Ravana form the main part of Dussehra festival while in Southern India worshipping Goddess Durga for killing the demon Mahisasura is the main aim of the festival. Likewise in Eastern and Western parts of the country also celebrate Dussehra in their own style. Here below we will discuss how Dussehra is celebrated in different ways in India.
Dussehra Celebrations in All Over India
Northern India – Ramlila forms the greatest attraction of Dussehra in Northern India. During the festival scenes from Lord Rama’s life are enacted wherein the reunion of Lord Rama with his brother Bharat, returning back of Rama, Lakhsman and Sita to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and killing of the demon king Ravana are the main scenes.
In Delhi, the effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghnath are burnt to celebrate the victory of good over evil powers.
In Himachal Pradesh, people of Kullu Valley celebrate Dussehra in their own style. Here a week long fair is carried on. All the deities from little temples around are brought in a procession to the Kullu maidan to offer their respect to their reighing deity Raghunathji. Thousands of people gather in the procession to celebrate Dussehra. Ramlila is the next major attraction here.
Eastern India – In Eastern India, mainly in West Bengal, Durga Puja is the main festival among Bengalis wherein a ten day festival is celebrated. Here it is believed that Maa Durga killed the demon Mahisasura who had captured the Swarglok with his evil powers and thus the festival is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Maa Durga over Mahisasura. The tenth day is called “Vajaya Dashami” when the idol of Goddess Durga is immersed in some nearby lake or river and this ritual is called ‘Visarjana’. A huge procession precedes the Visarjan procedure.
In Orissa the tenth day of the festival is called “Vijoya Dashami”. As per the traditional ritual, Aprajita puja is offered to the Goddess along with a tearful farewell to the deity. The immersion process is called ‘Bisarjan Jatra’ and after the idol is immersed in the water, the effigies of Ravana are burnt and they celebrate ‘Ravan Podi’.
Southern India – In Tamil Nadu, the nine day festival is divided into three divisions. During the first three days Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Lakshmi is believed to be the Goddess of wealth and prosperity.
The next three days is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati who is believed to be the God of arts and learning.
And during the last three days, Ma Durga ie the Godess of Shakti is worshipped.
Small statues and dolls called “Bommai Kolu” are prepared and placed on artificial platforms. People decorate these steps and platforms with lamps and flowers. A very special dish called Choondal is prepared during the festive days and they are offered to the deities as Prasad. Here the Vijaya Dashami day is considered very important for children who are about to start education and thus this day is called “Vidya Arambh”.
Kerala follows similar traditions on Dussehra. Songs and dances of children form an important part of the festival.
In Mysore, the Mysore palace is illuminated with beautiful lights for a whole month to celebrate Dussehra. A grand procession of elephants beautifully decked up, is carried out in the streets of Mysore. Thousands of people gather to join the procession and celebrate the festival.
Dussehra is known as Dasara in Andhra Pradesh.
Western India – Maharashtrians believe Dussehra as an auspicious day to start with any new venture. They celebrate the day to mark it as a victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Here they believe that during their 12 years of exile, the Pandavas in Mahabharata kept their weapons under the Shami tree and as per the legend, it is on the day of Vijayadashami that they took their weapons back. Maharashtrians believe the exchange of the leaves of Aapta tree to be very sacred and thus the Aapta tree is worshipped on this day. Again exchange of gifts and sweets among friends and relatives is another ritual followed in Dussehra.
This is how the festival of Dussehra is celebrated through out India differently and each region has its own legends and believes to celebrate this grand occasion.