Dussehra is a great religious festival of Hindus. It comes about a month before Diwali. It is celebrated to mark the victory of Shri Rama over the demon King Ravana.
It was thousands of years ago when a fierce battle took place between Rama and Ravana over the recovery of Sita. Victory came to Rama in the long run and the forces of sin were completely destroyed It was not an easy job to kill Ravana who had a large army and superior weapons. In this sense Rama's victory was all the more a matter of great joy.
Hindus throughout India celebrate Dussehra in memory of that great event. At least a month before the great day various Ram Lila committees are formed to collect donations and make arrangements for the great festival. A day before the Dussehra day paper effigies of Ravana and Meghnad are erected on an open ground. A large number of crackers are fastened inside the effigies.
On the appointed day people in their best come from far and near at the mela ground. Before taking their seat they first pay their homage to Ravana by going round the effigy three times because Ravana, in spite of his crime, is still held in high esteem because of his great learning. The ground is full of people-men women, children. Toy sellers have a field day.
A mock battle takes place between Ravana and the forces of Rama and as soon as the sun is half set, Rama's burning arrow pierces the effigies and the crackers explode one by one making deafening noise and scattering the pieces of the effigies all around. The effigies are soon burnt out and Ravana is declared dead. People get excited and rush to collect the falling pieces of the effigies before going home.
In the night Rama's victory is celebrated with great joy. Puja is performed everywhere. People visit their friends and relations and exchange sweets. Bazaars are crowded. Men, women and children sit on pavements to see the triumphal march of Rama. They bow their head and touch the feet of Rama to get his blessings.
In modern times people's hatred for Ravana is lessening. After all he was a hero, a patriot who never yielded before Rama till the last despite the knowledge that he would be killed in the long run.