Friday, March 28, 2008

Dussehra or Durga Puja :: Indian Festivals

This festival commemorates the victory of the goddess Durga (an incarnation of Parvati, consort of Shiva) over the demon Mahisasura. It is also celebrated as a remembrance of the victory of Lord Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu) over Ravana, the king of Lanka who had abducted Sita, wife of Rama.

Dussehra is celebrated at the end of Navaratri, a nine-day festival. Images of Durga are worshipped during the Navaratri festival and stories related to the goddess and to the conquest of good over evil are told. Navaratri is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Gujarat, Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Prayers, devotional songs and colourful rituals mark the occasion of Navaratri and Dussehra. Ramlila is another exciting feature of this festival where the story of Rama, the God King of Ayodhyaya is depicted in a dance-drama form on all ten days of celebration.

On the 10th day i.e. the day of Dussehra, buffaloes representing the buffalo-demon Mahisasura are sacrificed to the goddess. The evening of Dussehra sees the burning of the colorful effigies of Ravana, complete with 10 heads and curling moustaches, and those of his son and brother. This spectacle is marked by setting off of a fusillade of fire-crackers and the triumph of good over evil is commemorated once again.

No comments: