Dassehra - A round up

From ancient times, the Navaratri festival which culminates in Dassehra, has been associated with a good harvest. On the first day, the day of Ghata Sthapana, a variety of nine grains is sown in mud around the Ghata (mud pot). On the day of Dassehra, these seedlings are cut and offered to the Lord. This practice is followed in other parts of the country as well. Rice plants from the fields are also used to decorate the doorways of homes.

Navratri is the longest festival in our country which is spread over nine(nav in Hindi) nights(ratri). Each part of the country celebrates Dassehra with devotion to the Supreme God or Goddess in paying gratitude andrespect for same or different legends.  Dassehra upholds unique rituals and methods of festivity in accordance with different regions of the country.The common legend is that Since Goddess Devi wageda very tiresome battle with demons like Shumbha ans Nishumba throughout the day, in the evenings, she was entertained with dance and music and worshipped for her valour. 

To my extend, I have tried to bring out the celebrations in major states of India here.

West Bengal


Pandal of Durga Puja in Kolkatta, West Bengal
Nothing can beat the spectacular presentation of Goddess Durga during Navaratri festival here. It is celebrated as Durga Puja. Huge idols of the Goddess Durga posed as killing the demon Mahishasura are worshipped everywhere portraying the legend. Huge 'pandals' are set up where the Devi is depicted as Mahishasura Mardini - the slayer of the demon Mahishasura. Devotees in large numbers visit to worship Goddess Durga. Men and women and children all dressed up in new clothes visit different ‘pandals’ to offer prayers to the Mother Goddess. The ceremonies are conducted amidst grand prayers, overnight pandal hopping and mass feeding. This is one of the biggest and most important festivals for the people of West Bengal. Currently, Durga Puja is famous all over he world.

Uttar Pradesh

Ram lila play in Uttar Pradesh

Dassehra is synonymous with Ram Lila in memory of Lord Rama's victory over the demon Ravana. In public grounds, huge effigies of Ravana and his brothers, Kumbhakarna and Meghnad are erected. These are stuffed with firecrackers. The finale takes place when the person acting as Rama, enters the ground and lets fly a series of arrows at the demons. The triggers off the explosion of the firecrackers, bringing the demons to their due end, singnifying the triumph of food over evil.

Punjab

Here too, the celebrations start on the first day of the festival, with the sowing of cereal grains. Women harvest these on the Dassehra day and offer them to their menfolk, who then present them with gifts. Like in Uttar Pradesh, in Punjab too, people celebrate the festival with shows of RamLila, with the killing of Ravana andhis brothers on the last day.

Andhra Pradesh

Shami Tree

For nine days, the Goddess Durga is worshipped with fervor and devotion. On the tenth day, people take Ganga snanam (oil bath with Ganges river water), wearneew clothes and worship the symbols of their trade. Shami tree referred as Pipal in Hindi, Ashvata in Tamil is given prime importance. Prayers are offered to Shami tree, taken in procession, exchange the Shami leaves with each other and prepare an elaborate feast in the evening.

Tamilnadu

Golu
In this province, this festival is predominant for women. In a tiered display, a variety of dolls and playthings made from clay are displayed and form the focus of attraction in most households. This is referred as Golu. Here too, Goddess Devi is worshipped for nine days, each day different neivediyam(food) is offered to her while the women chant Sri Lalitha Sahasranama and Dassehra being the last day celebrated as Vijaya Dasami and the day before Dasami - the eighth day is celebrated as Saraswathi Puja.

Karnataka

Chaamundeeswari Temple, Chaamundi Hills, Mysore, Karnataka

This is perhaps the most spectacular celebration of the festival in South India. The procession of richly caparisoned elephants holding Goddess Chamundeeswari on top led by the Mysore Maharaja is taken through the city. 
Mahishasura - the demon slayed by Goddess Durga

At the culmination point, the Maharaja worsips the Shami tree and returns to the palace on the horseback, In the evening, the entire palace is lit up. The Dassehra celebrations in Mysore are a huge tourist draw.

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