Dusshera Celebration: All About The Victorious Tenth Day

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New Delhi: Smiling faces and devoted souls – come September-October and the colours of diverse cultures and customs of India are already dazzlling. Dussehra, also known Vijayadashami, is celebrated from Gujarat to Arunachal and Himachal to Karnataka, exuding in its ethnic elegance. 

Ravan, the demon king, is depicted as having 10 heads and 20 limbs. He is often thought of as symbolizing the negative or evil emotions that exist in humans. Each of his 10 heads relates to an aspect that must be conquered: lust (kama vasana), anger (krodha), delusion (moha), greed (lobha), pride (mada), jealousy (matsara), selfishness (swartha), hatred (durmati), cruelty (amanavta), and ego (ahankara).


Therefore, this exhilarating and inspiring festival marks the victory of good over evil as it is believed that it was on this day that Lord Rama killed Ravana, the demon King of Lanka to rescue his beloved wife Sita, after cutting ten heads of Ravana, on the tenth day of the ensuing battle.


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This way, marking the victory of good over evil, Vijayadashami or Dussehra (or Dasara) is celebrated all over the country with grand performances of Ramleela, spectacular processions, doll exhibitions and most importantly the demon king’s effigies are burnt amidst cheering crowds.

While the act itself is most symbolic and popular, here are four cities where the Ravan dahan or the burning of Ravana is best witnessed:

Lucknow
The Aishbagh Ramleela ground is one of Lucknow’s oldest venues that hosts the performance organised by the Shri Ram Leela Samiti. Like every other Ramleela, the show climaxes with the burning of effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnad and brother Kumbakarana. Spectacular fireworks display marks the end of the performance. The Aishbagh Ravan Dahan is unique in it that the (over) 100-ft Ravana has satirical messages written all over him based on petrol price hike, Commonwealth Games, and Coalgate scams among other.

Varanasi
The Ramnagar Fort is the perfect place to watch Ravan Dahan in Varanasi. At the end of a 31-day performance, for which the city becomes the set, Rama defeats Ravana and brings the audience to its feet.
 

Mumbai
Those in Mumbai usually head to Azad Maidan, one of the city’s few open spaces where the stage is set for a 10-day Ramleela performance. The Maharashtra Ramleela Mandal, which is the oldest in the city, usually organizes this event attended by close to 3,000 people. Occasionally, the Ramleela here goes on for 10 more days with actors enacting more scenes from the epic.
 

Delhi
Celebrations of Dussehra are incomplete without the burning of the Ravana effigy at the end of the performance on Vijayadashami. The tallest effigy in the city is created by the Nav Shri Dharmik Leela Committee and its burning is definitely the highlight of the performance held at Subhash Maidan opposite the Old Lajpat Rai Market. The lawns at the Red Fort and the Red Fort ground are among the other places to witness this joyous form of celebration.
Other places in Delhi includes; Ramlila Maidan Ajmeri Gate, Red Fort Ground, Ramlila Maidan Keshav puram, DDA Ground NSP Pitampura, Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, Dwarka Sri Ramlila Society, and Janakpuri Ramlila etc.


Making of Ravana Effigies:

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The effigies of the demon king, Ravan along with his brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghnad are erected before they are burnt to ashes; their actual preparations begin much earlier.

In Delhi, most Ravan effigies are made in an area called Titarpur, located in Tagore Garden in west Delhi. A famous makeshift market gets set up on the footpath there, along Najafgarh Road. It's worth a trip to see it during Navaratri (the lead up to Dussehra).

The deft fingers start giving the shape to the demon king’s curly mustaches, broad lips and bulging eyes right after Rakshabandhan in August and turns Titarpur, a small village in West Delhi into a factory that churns out effigies of the demon king of Lanka. For two months the Ravanwallas work day and night to erect giant effigies.

Although originally there are just 3 families from Titarpur, who make the Ravan effigies as most of the rest Ravan makers are the migrants from Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. They buy bamboo sticks from Nangloi and tear them apart and tie them together to make the effigy frames. They also buy discarded silk Sarees from the dealers selling second-hand goods to cover the frames. All the parts are made separately, and eventually assembled together.
The minimum cost price of an effigy is Rs 1,000-3,500 and it is sold at anything between Rs 3,500 and Rs 8,000. For the world Ravan would be a demon but for the Ravan Makers he is their ‘Annadata’, source of livelihood which set ablaze in a spectacular show called “Ravan-Badh” or the “Killing of Ravan."

Amidst all the commonalities of the festival, the less known fact is that reasons for Dussehra celebrations differ from one place to another, and so do the elements.

Hers is the list of places to visit during the festival of Dussehra in India:

1. Bastar Dushera - In the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, Dussehra celebrations last for more than two months and are devoted to the local goddess known as Ma Danteshwari. During the ceremonies, the tribes gather around the Maharaja of Jagdalpur, Kamal Chandra Bhanj Deo. On the last day of Dussehra celebrations in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, there's a fascinating parade featuring the Maharaja and all the tribes.
 

2. Mysore Dasara - “Nadahabba” or the state festival of Karnataka, Mysore Dussehra has been there for 400 years. The region hosts this festival as a celebration of the victory of goddess Chamundeshwari over demon Mahishasura. The 10-day long festival starts from the first day of
Navratri and culminates on the tenth day when the royal procession follows a decorated elephant carrying the idol of worshipped goddess. The lighting of the Mysore palace and involvement of the royal family are popular attractions during Dussehra in Mysore.

3. Kullu Dussehra - In Himachal Pradesh, Kullu Dushhera tradition began in the 17th century which has earned a big name among the people looking for exceptional celebrations around the globe. Even for India, the celebrations in Kullu are a little different as they start when the revelers in other states are heading home after the 10 day long festivities. In the Kullu Valley region of Himachal Pradesh, there is no burning of Ravan effigies. Instead, dussehra in Kullu takes a different twist. Idols of gods and goddesses are carried on the heads of devotees in a procession to a ground where they meet the main God, Lord Raghunath. Festivities carry on for seven days, the last day of which the procession is led to the River Beas where a pile of wood is set on fire. This signifies the symbolic burning of Ravana's Lanka.

4. Madikeri Dasara - Madikeri Dasara, which takes place during the night attracts over two lakh people to the hill town every year. During the festival ten larger than life tableaux are taken out in procession by various teams. Dated back to the past years, Dasara festival has been celebrated right from the period of Haaleri Kings until today; it is a great history indeed. The festival has its unique significance and own popularity.
 

5. Kota Dussehra - Undoubtedly the Kota Dussehra Festival is one of the most important attractions the city has to offer, and they are short of nothing but majestic! Located on the banks of the Chambal River, Kota’s celebration of the festival- Dussehra bears a distinct appeals altogether. The whole area boasts an attractive during this festival. Prominent artistes from all over the country are invited to participate in cultural programmes who enthral the huge audience with their performances that marked by a glittering procession which attracts thousands from the surrounding villages. The history of this Dussehra fair goes back to 1723 AD.
Also, the Dussehra Fair of Kota, popularly known as Dussehra Mela, is the most important event in the cultural calendar of the city.
 

6. Mangalore Dasara - The Mangalore Dasara (Tulu: Marnemi), is a festival organized by Kudroli Shri Gokarnanatheshwara Temple. It is also referred as Navarathri Festival, Vijayadashami. The tiger dance, lion dance and bear dance are the main attractions. The city is decorated with lights for the 10 days of the occasion.
 

7. Barara - The Barara Ravana holds the record in Limca Book of world records for being the tallest Ravana effigy in the world. This little town, close to Ambala, is about 80 kilometers from Chandigarh. Every year, the height of the effigy, around two hundred feet now, is increased by a few feet.
 

8. Delhi - After nine days of Durga Goddess worship and fasting, Dussehra festival is celebrated in a most dramatic way signifying victory of Rama’s over Ravana. At Ramlila Maidan and Red Fort lawns, popular Ramlila shows are held and the entire atmosphere gets filled with recitals and religious music of Ramayana. On the last day of the festival, the burning of the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran, and Meghanath followed by amazing fireworks attracts a huge crowd. More than 250 puja pandals and 1000 Ramlila events held during this festival season.

Dussehra across Globe:

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Dussehra festival is celebrated throughout the world with great zeal. The people of Nepal celebrate this festival in a wonderful way. Goddess Durga and Kali are worshipped for nine days and on the tenth day the king applies abeer, rice and curd on his people. So, celebrate this pious festival with true devotion.


Dussehra is also celebrated in other neighbouring countries with great enthusiasm. Other than India and Nepal, it is celebrated in countries like Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, China and Thailand. People consider Lord Ram as the greatest protagonist of Satyuga even today.

References:
http://www.walkthroughindia.com
http://traveltriangle.com
www.tourism-of-india.com
http://www.india.com
http://www.retinacharmer.com
www.thoughtco.com

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