Top 10 Places to Celebrate Dussehra in India
Dussehra or ‘Vijayadashami’ is celebrated as the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana and also the triumph of Goddess Durga over a demon called ‘Mahishasura’. It is celebrated either in late September or early October annually. The exact date is decided as per the Hindu lunar calendar. Nepal and Bangladesh also celebrate the festival.
The festival is marked by nine-day worship of Maa Shakti or five-day puja of Maa Durga which is brought to an invigorating end on the tenth day celebrated as ‘Dussehra’. The name of the festival may vary from state to state, but the theme remains constant throughout the nation. So here is the list of the top 10 places to visit during Dussehra for a memorable experience.
1. Mysuru Dasara
Mysore Dasara celebrations are Karnataka’s and indeed south India’s best known Dussehra festivities. The ten-day festival begins on Navratri and ends on Vijaydashmi, during which a procession is held on the streets of Mysore. It starts from Mysore Palace and culminates at Bannimantapa, where the Banni tree is worshipped. The festival celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the devil Mahishasuru locally called Nadahabba. Mysore has become synonymous with the extravagant Dasara celebrations and the festival is celebrated with great pomp every year.
2. Kolkata Dussehra
The festival is also known as Durga Puja, Vijayadashami festival, or Dussehra in West Bengal. The capital city ‘Kolkata’ is decorated with beautiful lightning from twilight till wee hours and dotted with different theme-based pandals where Durga idols worshiped for five days, the celebrations culminate with the immersing of the Durga idols in the river. On the last day of worship, people exchange warm greetings with near and dear ones and distribute sweets to each other. ‘Rasogolla’, the most famous and most distributed sweet in West Bengal which is distributed on the occasion of Durga Puja.
Durga Puja begins in a lot of hustle-bustle and vibrancy to the castle. Kolkata’s women play Sindoor Khela popular ceremony of married women dressed up in traditional sarees smearing bright red colored sindoor on each other. Enjoy fireworks as they paint the sky and light it up with festive
3. Kota Dussehra
The Kota Dussehra Mela very much famous in Rajasthan is celebrated every year from the month of September to October. 75 feet tall representations of the devils Ravana, Kumbhakarana, and Meghnad are ignited on Dussehra day to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. From the next day onward the series of cultural programs begin with their preparations to entertain its visitors. The Mela is held for 25 days. Amusement rides, food stalls, cultural programs, stalls of different products, Ravana Dahan on Dussehra, and the festive ambiance has been attracting people every year. Prominent artists from all over the country are invited to participate in various cultural programs
4. Delhi Ram Lila
Dussehra is a bright and festive time in Delhi where hundreds of special stages are set up in the city to hold Ram Lila. Ram Lila in Delhi is an old tradition and was believed to be started during the rule of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. The most famous of all the Ram Lila is the one held at Ramlila Maidan, Old Delhi.
5. Kullu Dussehra
Kullu Dussehra begins on Vijaya Dashami when the Dussehra festival ends in other parts of India. It goes on for a week where Lankadahan is the main event performed with more than 250 assembled deities on the bank of river Beas. The legend of the festival is associated with Lord Ram’s victory over Ravan, but this event is not central to the Dussehra festival celebrated there.
Rather there is local lore which people believe. The story goes that a Vaishnav saint, Krishnadas, advised Raja Jagat Singh (1637-62) of Kullu to somehow obtain the idols of Lord Ram and Sita, which were enshrined in Ayodhya’s Tretanath Temple if he wished to be cured of leprosy. After he was cured he placed the idols on his throne and declared himself a servant of Lord Ram. The king then ordered all the priests to arrive with the deities in their respective temples to offer obeisance to Raghunathji on Vijayadasami day and then participate in the 7-day celebrations. Thus Kullu Dussehra begins on the Vijayadasami day and ends seven days later.
6. Bastar Dussehra
In Bastar, the celebration of Durga Puja is organized for 75-days from August to October, it is thus the longest Dussehra festival celebration in the world. Bastar Dussehra begins with Hareli Amavasya. One of the most awaited events is the rath yatra. Traditionally, a three-and-a-half-foot long and nearly three-foot round wood of Sal tree in the form of Turlu Khetla was brought from the forest of Baidarguda in Bilouri. The festival involves rituals of extraordinary rigor like a girl swinging on a bed of thorns, a youth sitting in vigil, buried shoulder-deep, for nine days, etc.
7. Kulasekarapattinam Dasara
The famous 10 days Dussehra celebrations at Kulasekarapattinam in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, attract millions of people every year. The Kulasai Mutharamman Devi Temple is an ancient temple about 300 years old that was erected in this port city during the reign of King Maravarman Kulasekaran, it is believed the goddesses guards the Village and its people and will help her devotees during their hardship. Devotees from other states and districts flock to the city to pay homage to the Goddess. Traditionally, they don different guises and come fasting, to seek blessings.
One can also see people walking around wearing costumes like that of policemen, soldiers, doctors, etc. Devotees dressed in tattered clothes and running around the other devotees beseeching for alms is yet another common sight. There is a belief that such costumes are worn to wash away the sins by surrendering to the Goddess Muttaramman.
8. Bathukamma, Telangana
‘Bathukamma’ is a nine-day floral festival celebrated particularly by the women of Telangana. The festival takes place towards the end of the monsoon season, just before the onset of winter. The festival begins a week before the ‘Saddula Bathukamma’ (the finale of the Bathukamma festival), which falls two days before the Dussehra. Women make small ‘Bathukammas’ (colorful flowers carefully arranged in circular rows in a brass plate) during the nine-day period, dance around them every evening, and immerse them in a nearby water pond.
9. Varanasi Ram Lila
Ramlila is a play based on the life of Rama and is Varanasi on a grand scale. Ramlila begins on Anant Chaturdashi in Ramnagar and is staged for one month annually. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has also recognized the event as an intangible world cultural heritage. The venue for this extravagant cultural affair is the Ramnagar Fort, which was built in the 1750s by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh. Besides the lavish setup, priests also take part in Ramlila and recite verses from the holy book, which enhances divinity in the ambiance and enthusiasm among the crowd. Ram Lila is one of the most important festivals of Varanasi.
10. Navratri Mahotsav, Ahmedabad
Navratri is one of the major festivals of Gujarat celebrated in honor of Goddess Durga. Navratri is considered the world’s longest dance festival with dance-like Garba and Dandiya-Raas is performed. The dance which originally was performed by women celebrating the femininity, fertility, and the divinity of the Goddess Durga, has now become an act of celebration for all. From young children to old, dancing in circles while tapping feet and claps, has become a tradition in the state for all. They venerate an avatar of the Goddess each day before the dance begins whether it is Garba, Dandiya, or a little of both.