Know your festival – a series on Dussehra

Know your festival – a series on Dussehra Cover Image

Navaratri, the festive season, has started with holidays in schools and a lot of colour, spectacle and rejoicing expected over the next few days. Stories and events connected with it are indeed fascinating to recapitulate for children and grown-ups alike!!

Every year, around this time, the whole country gets into a festival holiday season – with the first event just around the corner – variously called Dussehra / Navaratri / Durga Puja / Ramlila / Kollu. These are different names by which we call the same colourful festival. Many variants in styles of celebration and rituals can be seen in different parts of the country, but it has one dominant common theme – celebration of victory of Good over Evil.

Symbolically, Good is represented by a Divine entity like Goddess Durga and Lord Rama. Demonic despots – Mahishasura (who is supposed to have ruled over what is Mysore today) and Ravana (who was the ruler of Lanka) symbolize Evil. These demons were supposed to have terrorized people on the earth using enormous powers they had accumulated, which needed Gods to descend on earth, taking the forms of Durga and Rama respectively to destroy them and to ensure restoration of peace and order in our lives.

Different parts of India have different ways of celebrating this event, placing importance to different aspects of the same basic theme. Every corner of India has its own typical style of celebration, with the local folklores, traditions and rituals retained largely in their original form over the years.

Mahalaya, the New Moon day ending the month of ‘Bhadrapada’ is when the season kicks off. Falling on 23rd of September this year, it has kicked off the religious rituals on that day. Celebrations on the streets and homes follow everywhere and we take a fascinating tour of the way the Dussehra celebrations progress from that day onwards in different parts of India.

Dussehra- a truly colorful and event-filled festival is a period of National celebration all across the country. Symbolizing, as it does, the ultimate triumph of Good over Evil, it cuts across barriers of ethnicity, language and religion to celebrate restoration of peace and order on earth by destroying forces that tend to terrorize and spread fear among ordinary people all over. The message of Dussehra and what it stands for is a message that is highly relevant in today’s atmosphere of distrust and division between our peoples.

In our “Know your festival” series, this is a precursor that would be followed by how Dussehra is celebrated across the different regions of India. Stay tuned!

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