Dussehra Photos – Better Late Than Never
This year Dussehra was celebrated on Sunday, October 17th. Okay…so obviously I’m a little late in getting around to this post. Dussehra marks the beginning of the autumn holiday season in India, though, which took me by surprise and suddenly kept me busy, up until now, with parties and family lunches and dinners, not to mention work and wedding planning! So, this is the first time in awhile that I’ve been able to sit down to write.
Back to the holiday itself, though. Dussehra is the culmination of the Ramlila, the re-enactment of Lord Ram’s life as told in the Hindu religious epic The Ramayana. The tale ends in a ten-day battle between Ram, our hero, and the demon Ravan and his two brothers. To conclude the re-enactment and celebrate Dussehra, three large effigies of Ravan and his brothers are burned at sunset, representing the victory of good over evil.
Nearly every neighborhood in Delhi has its own Dussehra celebration, with the one at the Ramlila Ground in Old Delhi being the largest. As I was driving around Delhi in the days before the holiday, I could see the disassembled effigies being carted around to the various neighborhood parks where they would be set up for the celebration.
Amrit and I opted to go to Khan Market’s Dussehra celebration, because it seemed like it would be relatively tame, was only a ten minute drive from the house, and there were places for us to sit and wait for the show to begin. (Obviously we were both feeling rather lazy on this particular Sunday evening.)
When we reached Khan Market, the sun was still out, so we had time to walk around and admire the colorful thirty-foot effigies before the show began. It also wasn’t too crowded at that time, so we were lucky to get front row seats! As sunset drew nearer, more people began to gather. Occasionally, someone would set off a firework which would explode above the effigies, and everyone would ooh and aah. Just before the burning began, a group of small children came dressed as Ram, Sita, Ravan, and Hanuman, all characters from The Ramayana, to re-enact the epic. Then, a short puja (prayer ceremony) was performed, and the burning began. The crowd became excited and pushed forward (so much for our front row seats…) The entire burning process took about twenty-five minutes, and ended with the grand finale when the flames reached the demon Ravan’s head, which had several small bombs embedded in it to create a series of loud, rapid explosions.
Afterwards, there was applause, and then the crowd slowly dispersed. Amrit and I went for a stroll through Khan Market, which was festively lit for the holidays, and mused on our first Dussehra spent together. Maybe next year we’ll get the full experience at Old Delhi’s Ramlila Ground!