Dussehra – One Festival, Many Forms

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Explore the 5 unique Dussehra celebrations in India.

Whether it’s Durga Puja in West Bengal, Navratri in Gujarat, Dasara in Mysuru, Bathukamma in Telangana or Jagraata in Punjab, the Dussehra Festival is celebrated across India, but each in their own unique ways.

Dussehra celebration in India is a spectacle to behold! Though the festival is celebrated in myriad ways, its true essence – victory of good over evil remains the same, including the vibrancy and the ethnicity of this magnanimous celebration. The first nine days or Navratri commemorates the killing of the demon king, the ten-headed Ravana by Lord Rama in some states, while killing of the demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga on Vijayadashami or the tenth day, is celebrated in others.

Let’s take a look at the five  places where Dussehra is celebrated with great aplomb.

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Durga Puja in West Bengal

The state of West Bengal is famous for its Durga Puja. The state goes into a rapturous fervour with exquisitely decorated, theme-based Pandals, sacred bhogs, Dhunuchi dance with uproarious dhaak beats. The idol is of Goddess Durga killing the demon Mahishasura. The festivities end on Vijayadashami, the 5th day when the idols are immersed in the river Ganges.

Mysuru Dasara

Legend has it that the city of Mysuru was ruled by the demon Mahishasura. The name Mysuru, it is said,came from Mahishasurana Ooru meaning city of Mahishasura. As the story goes, Goddess Chamundeshwari(another name of Goddess Durga) had descended from the adjoining Chamundi Hills to slay the demon king. Many years earlier, Mysuru would celebrate the Nadahabba or Dasara with a huge procession of elephants. Today, the main venue of the festival is the Chamundeshwari temple where colorful fairs are held throughout the nine days.

Himachal Pradesh

The century-old celebration of Dussehra in Kulu is known for its spectacular procession with many deities. The main festivity centers around the worship of Lord Raghunath at Dhalpur maidan, where countless people gather. Unlike the rest of India, Dussehra celebrations begin here on the ninth day of Vijayadashami and continues for a week. Symbolizing the burning of Lanka, the festivity comes to a close after a heap of wood and grass is set ablaze on the banks of the river Beas.

Hyderabad’s Bathukamma

The word Bathukamma literally means ‘Mother Goddess come alive.’ This festival is celebrated in Telengana and parts of Andhra Pradesh. It starts with the worship of Lord Ganesh on Mahalaya Amavasya and ends on Durgashtami. Women gather to create intricate and elaborate floral designs, mostly in a concentric conical form.

Punjab’s Jagratas

Jagratas are organized at homes. Family members and neighbors sing devotional songs through the night. Women undertake fasting during the first 7 days. On the eighth day, everyone shakes a leg in Bhangra style, the traditional dance of Punjab. Delicious food is cooked and distributed to neighboring houses, including the poor. The festival ends after Ravana’s effigy is burnt on Vijayadashami day.

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