Ten days and nine nights, Indians pray for the destruction of evil and victory of the righteous people in this world. Termed as Dussehra, the event has dual mythological significance as it was on this day that Ravana was killed by Rama after the fight over Ayodhya, and it was on this day when Durga killed Mahishasura, the evil that arose from the body of an ox. In India, people celebrate the events with joy and fanfare, with loads of gifting and cultural programs galore. Here is how it all gets celebrated in each part of India.
1. North India:
This part of India observes fasts starting right from the fourth or fifth day of the festival. Each day signifies the fast unto demolition of a type of evil. By Dussehra, the tenth day of the festival, massive culmination occurs in the burning of the Ravana effigy that denotes evil as in the historic Ramayana.
2. South India:
Marked by temples which are ages-old and steeped in historical significance, South India celebrates Dussehra in a unique way. During the nine nights of the festival, whole night vigils are maintained in many temples, while elaborate rituals like yajnas mark the day. Elaborate fasts, charity and donations are poured in and out during these auspicious days. Women of the house set-up auspicious golus, which are tiers of multi-sized dolls of the Goddess Shakti.
3. Eastern India:
Celebrated widely as Durga Puja, the ten day festival extols the power of the goddess Mother Durga as she kills the demon in the disguise of an Ox. The festivals witnesses massive Durga idols instated for worship in make- shift pandals, after which the idols are immersed in the Holy Ganges or a nearby river to denote the Mother Goddesses return to her home. Elaborate rituals like individual anjalis of thousands of visitors to the pandals and floral and lighting decorations mark the celebrations in this part of India.
4. Western India:
This is the place where the Ramayana is given utmost importance during these nine nights. The story of Rama or Ramkatha is repeated in different set ups across pandals on the mike and the tenth day is marked by the burning of the effigy of Ravana, the evil king of Lanka whom Rama killed on this day. Elaborate fireworks and skits and plays are enacted to mark the evening celebrations on these days.