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Festive India

 

The festival of Dussehra is celebrated with great gusto in many parts of India. Marking the defeat of Ravana by Lord Ram, Dussehra also symbolises the triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon Mahish Asura.

In Bengal, the festivities of Durga Puja brings the city of Kolkata to a halt! Durga is a form of the supreme goddess who is said to be the mother of Ganesha, Kartikeya as well as of Saraswati and Lakshmi. The goddess is represented as a warrior with 10 arms, astride a lion, carrying weapons. This form of the goddess is said to be the ultimate epitome of creative and feminine energy, or Shakti.

Legend tells us that it was only a woman who could destroy Mahish Asura and so the Holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva converged a beam of radiant energy upon their own consorts, transforming all of them into one beautiful warrior goddess — Durga. Each god, it is said, presented her with their own most powerful weapons — Rudra’s (Shiva) trident, Vishnu’s discus, Indra’s thunderbolt, Brahma’s kamandal etc. The Himalayas presented her with a fierce lion.

Idols of Duga astride a lion adorn every street corner and puja pandal in Bengal where they are worshipped for nine days and carried out in procession on the tenth day to be immersed in the river.

In the north, Ramlilas or the enactment of the life of Lord Ram are held during the nine days that precede Dussehra and on the tenth day or Vijay Dashmi, huge effiegies of Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna and his son Meghnadh are set on fire. This act is symbolic of the burning or destroying of evil.

In Mysore, the palace is illuminated and caparisoned elephants lead a procession through the city streets.

In Tamil Nadu, the first three days of Dussehra are dedicated to worshipping the goddess Lakshmi, the next three days to the goddess Saraswati and the last three days to the goddess Durga or Shakti.

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