Dussehra is celebrated every year to reiterate the humankind’s faith in truth and righteousness. In the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama killed Ravana, the demon king of Lanka who had abducted his wife Goddess Sita. The festival marks the end of a 10 day long battle between Rama and Ravana with his death.
In different parts of India, Dussehra celebration is varied. There are a lot of legends surrounding this festival, accounting for the different nature of Dussehra celebration in parts of India.
In Northern India, Dussehra marks the victory of Rama over Ravana. The celebration is characterised by ‘Ramlila’, which is a special skit of scenes from Lord Rama’s life to teach valuable lessons to mankind. The highlights of Ramlila are ‘Bharat Milap’, when Rama unites with his brother Bharat during the exile, destruction of Ravana’s Lanka and the return of Rama and Sita to Ayodhya.
Another feature of the celebrations is burning of huge effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkaran and his son Meghanad is wide open grounds. The ceremony is culminated with spectacular display of fireworks and distribution of sweets amongst the masses.
In Himachal Pradesh, the festival is celebrated for a week in the Kullu Valley. Idols of deities are brought to a wide open ground and the ceremony begins with worship of the reigning deity, Raghunathji. Huge processions of over hundred deities are taken on the streets of Kullu.
In South India, small dolls called ‘Bommai Kolu’ are made by the women to decorate their homes. Dussehra celebration in Mysore is a crowd puller because of their special rituals and extravagance. Grand illumination of Mysore Palace and gala processions with idols of Goddess Durga and bejewelled elephants are an important part of celebration of ‘Mysore Dasara’.
In East India, especially West Bengal, Dussehra marks the end of nine-day long festival of Durga Puja. The idols of Goddess Durga installed during Navratri are immersed in water.