2019 Dussehra Festival in India: Essential Guide

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 widely devoted to celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravan by Lord Rama in the holy Hindu epic The Ramayana.

When is Dussehra?

In late September or early October each year. The date of the festival is determined according to the Hindu lunar calendar. In 2019, Dussehra falls on October 8.

Find out the date of Dussehra in future years.

Location

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

The biggest Ravan effigy in India (and the world) can be found in Dhanas village near Chandigarh. It is 221 feet tall this year -- an increase of 11 feet from last year! Lack of space forced the effigy to be relocated to its new address at EWS Colony's Gadda Ground. The fabric of Ravan's clothes has also been upgraded to finer quality silk and his facial features have received a makeover. Importantly, the crackers used are eco-friendly. It took 40 workers six months to craft the effigy, which weighs 7,000 kilograms.

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 way and 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 the Festival is Celebrated

In northern India, plays and dance performances known as Ramalila, 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 popular Delhi Ramlila shows.

Then, on Dussehra, huge effigies of the demon Ravan are burned all over India.

In Mysore, as well as cultural performances and fairs, the highlight of the 10-day Mysore Dasara festival 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.

This Dussehra photo gallery shows how the festival is celebrated across India.

Rituals Performed During Dussehra

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.

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