Various Ways Dussehra is Celebrated across India
Dussehra ('Dasha Hara') also known as Vijayadashami celebrates the Triumph of Good over Evil. Hindus all over India honor Goddess Durga or Lord Rama's fight over demons. Though the main theme remains the same, each Indian state celebrates the festival in its way. India, with its rich plethora of mythology, traditions, customs, and cultural rites all bundled in one fabric offers rich diverse experiences of the same festival dipped in different ethnic traditions.
Here is how Dussehra is celebrated in a beautiful way in the different Indian states.
West Bengal Dashami – Celebrating with Great Religious Splendor
In West Bengal, Durga Puja or Dussehra is celebrated with great valor presenting the real essence of the festival. The entire state is transformed into a dynamic activity hub and every citizen of West Bengal is high on energy. Pandals are set up at various places with different themes and decorations. Idols of Goddess Durga along with other deities like Ganesh, Laxmi and Saraswathi are welcomed and worshiped for 5 days. Every year, people eagerly wait for Durga Pooja. Such excitement and passion can be seen nowhere in the country.
Gujarat – Aee Haalo! Garba for Maa Durga
Gujarat is a colorful state, and people here celebrate all festivals with enthusiasm. In Gujarat, Dussehra is celebrated as Navratra. Garba, the famous folk dance of Gujarat, is performed to honor Maa Durga Dandiya & Garba spread the spirit of brotherhood and encourages respect for Indian culture among people. People dance to the tunes on the folk songs with multi-colored sticks and unique dance steps. Men, women, children, and elders dress up in traditional costumes and dance in zeal throughout then night.
Himachal Pradesh - Grand Procession in Admiration of Lord Raghunath
In Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu, Dussehra holds a special significance and is celebrated uniquely. A 7-day festival is an event of great fervor and zest. People from Kullu town seek blessings of Lord Raghunath on the fairground of Dhalpur Maidan. Villagers from the neighborhood bring the idols of various local gods and goddesses at this fairground in a holy procession.
The entire valley is filled with happiness, religious spirit, and vigor for a week.
Delhi – Bringing Ram Back Home Through Ram Leela
The capital of the country, Delhi celebrates Dussehra Lord Rama’s victory over the evil demon Ravana. Temples are decorated amazingly with the touch of Indian culture and tradition. Ram Leela, the depiction of Ramayana by stage actors, is the greatest attractions of the city on this eve. Idols of all three demons, Ravana, Meghanad, and Kumbhakaran are set on fire at various places in the city, showing the victory of good over evil.
Many people observe fasts for 9 days and worship the different forms of Goddess Durga at Pandals.
Punjab – Fasting for Devi Shakti
Punjab celebrates Durga Puja with high energy and merriment. People here worship Goddess Shakti and observe a fast of 7-days during Navratri. At many places, Jagraata (Waking up for the entire night by singing devotional songs) is also arranged. On Ashtami (8th day), they break their fast along by organizing a Bhandara for 9 little girls known as Kanjika.
Tamil Nadu – Unique Ways of Paying Homage
The celebrations in Tamil Nadu are completely different and unique. The real essence of the festival by worshiping Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. You’ll come across the popular doll shows in almost every house in Tamil Nadu. During this time, married women invite each to their houses and gift them accessories that are matrimonial symbols. Also, they offer coconut, betel nuts and money to each other.
Another way of celebrating the festival in Tamil Nadu is Kulasekarapattinam Dasara. It is celebrated across the 10-days around the Mutharamman Temple, which is a hotspot of music, dance, and drama. It also highlights an amazing range of vibrant and colorful costumes. The attraction of the event is the trance dance where people swing to the lively beats of thara thappattam in unique costumes.
Uttar Pradesh – Putting an End to Evil with Ravan Dahan
In Uttar Pradesh, statues of demonic character Ravana are set on fire by Lord Ram in many parts. In the cities of Varanasi, Lucknow, and Kanpur, Ram Leela is performed to spread the message of Good over Evil.
Stage actors take the look of Lord Ram, Lakshman and Hanuman to perform the epic and audience are thrilled to see them while assassinating the idols of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghnath.
Chhattisgarh - Worshiping Nature
Chattisgarh celebrates Dussehra by rejoicing nature, spirituality and the presiding deity of the state. Devotees seek the blessing of Devi Danteshwari (the presiding deity of Bastar) during this festival.
Their rituals are poojas are different which includes pata jatra (worship of wood), deri gadhai (installation of kalash), kachan gaadi (installation of throne for Devi Kachan), nisha jatra (night-time festival), muria durbar (conference of tribal chieftains) and ohadi (farewell to deities) on last day.
Karnataka – Carnival Like Celebration
With the soothing environment of Coorg, Madikeri’s Dasara is celebrated with grandeur in Karnataka. With a long and captivating history belonging to the supremacy of Haaleri Kings, this vibrant carnival-like festival is also known as Mariamma. People perform folk dances dedicated to Draupadi, it is one of the most unique ways to celebrate Dussehra. Also, a parade is organized in which dramas including gods, goddesses, demons, and elves are performed.
Maharashtra – Celebrating Victory Over Ravana
In Maharashtra, people visit their closed ones, greet each other and exchange gifts. There is also a tradition of exchanging leaves of Aapta tree, symbolizing gold that aims to bring prosperity. The festival marks the beginning of Winter and hence special delicacies are prepared to make the immune system strong. Maharashtrians also consider the day auspicious and tends to start new ventures or buy new house, gadgets or vehicles. In the evening, effigies of Ravana are also burnt to celebrate the victory of Lord Rama over demon-king Ravana.
Kerala – Honoring Maa Saraswati
Keralites worship the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom – Maa Saraswati. For two students cover their books and keep them in front of the idol of Goddess. They also offer sugarcane, jaggery, and roasted paddy to please the deity. On Vijayadashami, a special puja is organized with special preparations. It is only after the puja that the students take the books back.
On this day, people offer their prayers to instruments, domestic animals, and vehicles. Education and knowledge are the main themes of Dussehra celebrations in Kerala.
Andhra Pradesh – Vijayadashami With Huge Procession
The entire state of Andhra Pradesh celebrates Mahishasurmarthini, with compassion and emotions. Religious ceremonies like Lalita Sahasranaama Paarayana and Kumkumaarchana pooja are performed by married women for the well-being of their husbands, family, and domestic felicity. Many devotees are found during this time in Tirumala (the residence of Lord Venkateswara) who come to witness the grand celebrations of Sreevari Brahmotsavaalu. Huge processions with the Lord Venkateswara and his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi are carried out on the streets with music and lights on different vehicles.
On the last day, the Goddess is taken on a swan boat ride, Hamsa Vaahanam, on the river Krishna. Vijaywada witnesses’ celebrations of Kanaka Durga ammavaaru at the Kanaka Durga temple on Indrakeeladri hill. She exudes serene beauty and gentle blessings.
Mysore – Glittery Mysore Palace
The Mysore Palace is lit with more than 100,000 lights for a month.
In Mysore Dasara is a grand affair, and if you visit the city at this time, you will witness the grand Mysore Palace lit with more than 1 lakh lights. The Palace is lit for an entire month. This 400-year-old celebrated festival in Mysore, has a mounted procession with colourful caparisoned elephants going towards the Dasara ground to showcase Mysore's splendour
Devotees worship Goddess Chamundeshwari and then mounted on a golden Ambari. The Dasara ground is known for its exhibition and various stalls for food, shopping and rides.
Young men dress up as tigers and fervently dance through the streets. Mangalore Dasara’s main attraction are the various folk-art forms like tiger and bear dances. During this fest, young men in troops dress up as tigers, accompanied by bands of drummers.
A Procession is carried out throughout the city with idols of Navadurgas along with Mahaganapathi and Sharada with folk dances and music.