DUSSEHRA:

       
Dussehra or Vijay Dashmi is a very popular Hindu festival, celebrated with eclat throughout the country. It is observed on the tenth day of the bright halk of Ashvin (September-October).

        It is a ten-day celebration, during which ‘Ramlila’ based on the epic story of Ramayana, is staged at various places in most of the cities and towns in northen India elaborate rituals. During its performance the Ramayana is constantly recited accompanied by music. It presents a fine blending of music, dance, mime, and poetry before an enthusiastic and religious audience sharing every event of the story with the actors.

        Struggle between the forces of good and evil, and the eventual victory of the former over the latter, is the basic theme of Ramayana. Rama symbolizes the best in humanity and Ravana the evil forces. Dussehra in Sanskrit also means taking away the ten sins. The ten heads of Ravana, represents these ten sins and Rama destroys them. Ravana abducted Sita with the help of another demon named Mareecha. Ravana kept Sita in the Ashoka Grove and persisted in making Sita his wife, but Sita always thought of her husband Rama. Rama sent his messengers to Ravana and urged him to return Sita. But the evil-minded Ravana refused to do so. Rama set off Lanka with Sugriva, Hanuman, Angada, Jambvant and hundreds of other mighty monkeys. Ravana’s younger brother Vaibhishana, a noble soul and devotee of God, however, took refuge with Rama. Rama built a causeway across the sea to carry him and his forces across the water. Rama, along with his young brother Lakshmana, killed all the demons and their King Ravana and regained Sita. Finally they returned to Ayodhya in the ‘Pushpak’ viman.

        On this occasion huge effigies stuffed with brilliant firework are raised at various open grounds and set to fire by a man enacting the role of Rama. The effigies belong to Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghnatha. This marks the culmination and termination of the celebrations. Elaborate and gay processions depicting various scenes of the Ramayana in the form of tableaus are taken out through bazaars and main streets. Apart from all this, Ramlila is also performed as a dance-drama by professional troupes.

        Dussehra festival held at Mysore, is one of India’s most colourful phenomena. The spectacular procession taken out on his day is a veritable extravaganza. The colourful Dusshera fair and festival of Kullu is also very famous. Among the Ramalias, the one staged at Varansi under the patronage of the local Raja deserves mention. On this auspicious day Lord Rama is worshipped, prayed and meditated upon to obtain his blessing and favour. In old days, the kings used to march their forces against their enemies, every year on this day, the day Rama routed Ravana.