Dussehra is one of the most religious festivals of the Hindus. It is celebrated all over India as a mark of Rama's victory over Ravana. One symbolises goodness and the other, evil.
In Northen India and West Bengal this festival is celebrated with great pomp and show. It generally falls in September-October and lasts for ten days with the immersion of the idols of Goddess Durga in the sacred rivers.
It is said that goddess Durga, the image of power, killed the buffalo headed demon Mahisasur, who was creating great havoc, on this day. People got great relief and they started observing this day as a grand festival to give honour to the goddess, their saviour.
It is also said that Rama had to go to forest to keep his father's word and then through a series of happenings rescued Sita, his kidnapped wife from Ravana, the king of Lanka. Rama killed Ravana on this very day. Rama himself was a great worshipper of goddess Durga. It is believed that before entering the battlefield he worshipped goddess Durga for nine days. Finally, he got victory that implies the victory of virtue over evil.
The day is known as Dussehra and we still celebrate it with same zeal and enthusiasm. The images of Durga are built at several places. The goddess Durga has ten hands. She carries a weapon in each hand. She stands with one foot on the back of the demon and the other foot on the Lion. Saraswati stands on her left side. Similarly, Laxmi stands on her right side. Her two sons, Kartikaya and Ganesh also stand on her right and left side. All the idols are decorated beautifully.
There is festive atmosphere everywhere. The devotees keep fast for nine days, which is also called Navaratri. During these holy days goddess Durga is worshipped with utmost devotion. Hawans and Yajnas are performed. People wear new clothes and eat tasty dishes.
The most interesting part of this festival is Ramlila, which is held in the form of drama acting the various aspects of Rama's life. Ramlila grounds are beautifully decorated. Large crowds in colourful dresses come to the ground to see the scene. On the 10th day three effigies-Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhkaran are made of paper and bamboo sticks.
Inside the effigies fire crackers are set. When Lord Rama fires the effigies with an arrow these crackers explode with great noise. With the burning of effigies this festival comes to an end. The burning symbolises the elimination of evil.
Thus, this festival creates a faith in good activities mentioning the victory of virtue over evil.