Guide to 2018 Dussehra Festival in India

When, Where and How to Celebrate Dussehra in India

Ravan.
Hira Punjabi/ Getty Images

The tenth day of the Navaratri festival is known as Dussehra. It's devoted to celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravan by Lord Rama in the holy Hindu text The Ramayana.

When is Dussehra Celebrated?

In late September or early October each year. The date of the festival is determined according to the Hindu lunar calendar. In 2018, Dussehra astrologically falls across two days, October 18 and 19, based on the position of the moon. Vijay Dashami is celebrated when Shravan Nakshtra overlaps with Dashami, which occurs on October 18. Hence, Ravan will be burned in most places in India on October 18.

Find out the date of Dussehra in future years.

Where is Dussehra Celebrated?

Dussehra is predominantly a northern Indian festival. Delhi and Varanasi are popular places to witness the celebrations.

The biggest Ravan effigy in India (and the world) can usually be found in the small town of Barara, approximately 80 kilometers south of Chandigarh. It's 215 feet tall this year! However, lack of space has forced the relocation of the effigy and venue to Shalimar Ground, Sector 5, Panchkula on the eastern outskirts of Chandigarh. The effigy will be on display for five days there before being burned.

Elsewhere in India, noteworthy Dussehra festivities take place in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Mysore in Karnataka, Kota in Rajasthan, Bastar in Chhatisgarh, and Almora in Uttarkhand. See the Top Places to Celebrate Dussehra in India.

In West Bengal, Navaratri and Dussehra are celebrated as Durga Puja.

Dussehra is one of the most vibrant times to visit Dadar Flower Market in Mumbai, as people buy golden marigolds for traditional decoration and worship.

How is Dussehra Celebrated?

In northern India, plays and dance performances known as Ramaleela, depicting the life of Rama, commonly take place in the lead up to Dussehra day. These shows are especially big in Varanasi and Delhi. Don't miss these 5 Popular Delhi Ramlila Shows.

Then on Dussehra, huge effigies of the demon Ravana are burned all over India. See the Ravan effigies being made in Delhi.

In Mysore, as well as cultural performances and fairs, the highlight of the 10 day Dussehra celebration is grand parade of decorated elephants and guards mounted on horse back to escort the goddess through the city.

In Kullu, goddess deities are carried around on colorful chariots, and there is much dancing and revelry.

What Rituals are Performed?

Dussehra is considered to be an auspicious time to worship tools used to earn an income. Nowadays, this includes laptops and cars! According to the legend in the epic Mahabharata, Arjun hid his weapons in a tree and when he returned a year later, on the day of Dussehra, he safely retrieved them. He then worshiped the weapons, along with the tree.

Ravan is depicted as having 10 heads and 20 limbs. He is often thought of as symbolizing the negative or evil emotions that exist in humans. Each of his 10 heads relates to an aspect that must be conquered: lust (kama vasana), anger (krodha), delusion (moha), greed (lobha), pride (mada), jealousy (matsara), selfishness (swartha), hatred (durmati), cruelty (amanavta), and ego (ahankara).

According to mythology, King Mahabali told Ravan to get rid of his negative emotions. However, he refused, claiming that they were important to him to remain complete. As our head controls our destiny, the inability of Ravan to control his emotions and desires led to his ultimate destruction.