The culmination of the 9 days of Navarathiri, end in the 10th day of Dussehra. The key attraction of this festival is the burning down of the effigies of Ravan and his two brothers, symbolic of when Lord Rama destroys Ravan in the epic tale of Ramayana. The effigies are filled with firecrackers, resulting in a cacophony of loud sounds as the entire- almost 100 feet high- structure breaks down. This is followed by even loud cheers from the crowd, that celebrate the symbolic feat. At some places, the days following up to Dussehra are marked by portraying the entire Ramayana through street plays called Ramlila.
Vijayadashami is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. In the southern, eastern, northeastern, and some northern states of India, Vijayadashami marks the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to restore and protect dharma. In the northern, central and western states, the festival is synonymously called Dussehra (also spelled Dasara, Dashahara). In these regions, it marks the end of “Ramlila” and remembers God Rama’s victory over the Ravan. On the very same occasion, Arjuna alone decimated more than 1,000,000 soldiers and defeated all Kuru warriors including Bhishma, Drona, Ashwatthama, Karna and Kripa, a significant example of victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). Alternatively, it marks a reverence for one of the aspects of goddess Devi, such as Durga or Saraswati.
Vijayadashami celebrations include processions to a river or ocean front that involve carrying clay statues of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya, accompanied by music and chants, after which the images are immersed in the water for dissolution and farewell. Elsewhere, on Dasara, towering effigies of Ravan, symbolising evil, are burnt with fireworks, marking evil’s destruction. The festival also starts the preparations for Diwali, the important festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after Vijayadashami. Best Places to Celebrate Dussehra:
- Kulasekarapattinam (Tamilnadu)