The month of October this year is marked by Dasara celebrations everywhere in the country. There are various legends related to this festival, varying from Lord Rama winning over Raavan to Goddess Chamundeshwari killing the demon Mahishasura.
But what remains the same is the feeling of joy which is seen everywhere. Moreover, in a cosmopolitan city like Bangalore, which has people from every part of the country, the wonderful mix of cultures and activities are clearly evident. Metrolife takes a look at what this festive season means for Bangaloreans from different parts of the country.
In the North, where this festival is called Dussehra, people celebrate the nine holy days of Navaratri after which, there is a ceremonial burning of oversized effigies of Raavan. Ramlila is the backbone of the celebrations here. Anoop Gupta, an advertising executive, explains, “There is a puja of Ram, Sita and Hanuman and Raavan Vadh symbolises the destruction of evil.” When you go towards the East, the festival is based on another legend, that of the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. Says Sudeep Ghosh, an account executive, “On the last day of the Durga Puja called Vijaydashmi, we immerse the idol of Ma Durga in a river or lake ceremoniously. This is called visarjan. The city is adorned by many colourful pandals and lighting.”
The people in Maharashtra also take part in the immersion of the idols on the last day of Navaratri with great fanfare. “In addition to this, we believe in the legend of the shami tree. The tree is worshipped on this day and its leaves are exchanged,” says Abhishek, an IT professional.
In the South, the festival, culminating with Vijayadashami, is dedicated to different pujas. Manjulaksmi explains that people decorate their homes with dolls and worship the three Goddesses — Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga.
“Arranging of small statues called bommai kolu is something commonly done in traditional families. We even decorate the place with lamps and flowers,” she says. This was originally done to relive the triumph of good over evil but has extended into other things over time. She adds, “Little girls dress up in ravike pavade and visit different houses to view the dolls.” Even in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, a similar tradition is followed. Meghana Rao, a student of Christ University, says, “A day before Vijayadashami, we celebrate Ayudha Puja when all tools and musical instruments are cleaned and worshipped. The day is considered auspicious, especially for children to begin their education. Saraswati Puja is done on this day.” She adds, “On Vijayadahami, the dolls are taken down ceremoniously and vidyaarambh is observed.” Most people say that the celebrations in the City may not be as grand as the ones back in their hometown but a cosmopolitan city has its own advantages. There are a number of cultural associations formed by the people of a particular city and they organise celebrations for people of their community. Says Archita Ghosh, a housewife, “We have several cultural associations that celebrate the festival in a very traditional manner. Every year, we take part in the programmes and they conduct different competitions for children too. My children are really excited about the festival.” The festival holds a lot of importance for every person in the City and whether the celebrations are grand or small, it is all about sharing the spirit of joy and happiness that is part of the festival of Dasara.