Dussehra, also known locally as Vijaydashmi, is a national holiday commemorating Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana. The celebration is also seen in some cultures as honouring Goddess Durga’s victory over the malevolent Mahishasura. In India, Dussehra, also known as Durga Puja and Vijayadashami in various parts of the nation, marks the beginning of the festival season for the second half of the year. People celebrate Durga Puja throughout the Eastern half of the country, particularly in West Bengal. Navratri is celebrated in North India, West India, and Central India before Dussehra. And Dasara is a festival celebrated in the southern part of India. No matter which part of the country you are in, you will be able to feel the spirit of festivity.
We suggest these top 10 locations to visit and celebrate Dussehra if you are intending to travel during this holiday season. Let’s talk about 10 prominent cities for Dussehra in India, where each region has a unique tradition.
1) Kolkata, West Bengal
In West Bengal, the celebration is also known as Dussehra, Vijayadashami, and Durga Puja. From dusk till the early hours of the morning, the capital city of “Kolkata” is decked with lovely lightning, and it is peppered with various theme-based pandals where Durga idols are worshipped for five days. The holiday is cherished to the fullest extent since in Bengali culture, this triumphs over all else. Throughout your visit, you’ll be captivated by the diverse street food, the dance and people wearing traditional attire, the exceptional inventiveness of the adorned pandals, and the rich legacy and culture of the area. Rasogolla is the most popular and widely distributed sweet in West Bengal, and it is given out on Durga Puja.
The Ramlila performances that take place in the nation’s capital city are among the most famous aspects of celebrating Dussehra in India. A long-standing custom in Delhi, Ram Lila is thought to have begun under the reign of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. The Ram Lila hosted in Ramlila Maidan in Old Delhi is the most well-known of all the Ram Lilas. Navratri, which lasts for nine long days, brings cheer to the city. During these nine days, everyone in Delhi consumes vegetarian food, and you may watch theatrical performers taking part in plays that recount the tale of Lord Ram and how he vanquished Ravana.
3) Ganga Dussehra in Varanasi
Varanasi is one of India’s most significant religious centres, known for housing the Kashi Vishwanath temple. In this city, customs have been observed over the years. The oldest Ramlila performances, which have been going on for more than 200 years, can be witnessed here. The entire fort is transformed into scenes that depict historical locales like Ayodhya, Lanka, etc. The audience follows the actors as they go from one site to another to play the narrative. The unique aartis on the ghats, dips in the Ganges, and numerous other important and fascinating rituals take place on Dussehra in Varanasi.
Celebrating Dussehra in India is incomplete unless you visit Mysore’s Dasara. Mysore’s Dasara celebration is unlike any other. Cultural performances, military parades, and sporting competitions are also a part of the festivities. It begins at Mysore Palace and ends at Bannimantapa, the site of the Banni tree’s veneration. The Mysuru Palace is beautifully ornamented, and the royal family attends a special Durbar that is held there. Dasara is celebrated lavishly every year in Mysore, which has come to be synonymous with the festival.
When the Dussehra festival concludes in other parts of India on Vijay Dashami, Kullu Dussehra starts. The major ceremony, known as Lankadahan, is conducted with more than 250 congregated deities on the Beas River bank over the course of a week. Although Lord Ram’s triumph over Ravan is included in the celebration’s legend, the Dussehra festival that is held there does not revolve around this occasion.
In terms of celebrating Dussehra, Kota takes a pretty unique tack. You might see regional artists, cultural performers, and many more at their best if you attend plenty of fairs! As you move about the city, you can also hear Shri Ram chanting echoing in the background. To pray to the Lord, the local villagers dress up in their traditional attire. Of course, Ravana’s effigies are set ablaze to signal the festival’s conclusion. The Kota Adventure Festival, which takes place on the Chambal river, is located next to the fair.
7) Dussehra in Bastar
This Durga Puja holiday is celebrated in Bastar for 75 days from August to October, making it the world’s longest Dussehra festival celebration. Hareli Amavasya marks the start of Bastar Dussehra. The rath yatra is one of the most anticipated occasions. From the forest of Baidarguda in Bilouri, a three-and-a-half-foot-long and nearly three-foot-round Sal tree in the shape of Turlu Khetla was traditionally carried. The celebration has extremely rigorous rituals, such as a girl swinging on a bed of thorns and a boy keeping watch while being buried shoulder-deep for nine days.
Bathukamma begins on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya and coincides with Navratri. On the day of Durgasthami, it comes to an end. Throughout the nine-day period, women build little “Bathukammas” (bright flowers expertly arranged in circular rows on a brass plate), dance around them each evening, and then submerge them in a nearby water pond.
Another well-liked location for travellers to travel to for the Dussehra celebration is Coorg, one of the best hill stations in South India. The Madikeri Dasara festival, which is also celebrated, begins with ritualistic and traditional karaga folk dances. The Pandavas’ wife, Goddess Draupadi, is honoured at the ceremonies. To welcome the last 10th day, the celebration lasts the entire ninth day. The Madikeri Dasara is a 100-year-old tradition, and preparation for it begins three months in advance.
10) Kulasekarapattinam Dussehra
Dussehra is observed in an unusual fashion in the quiet village of Kulasekarapattinam in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district. The Kulasai Mutharamman Devi Temple is a historic structure that dates back to the era of King Maravarman Kulasekaran and was built in this port city. It is thought that the goddesses guard the community and its residents and will assist her followers in times of need. Devotees travel from many areas and state to the city to honour the Goddess. In addition, one can see people roaming around dressed as police officers, soldiers, physicians, etc. Another typical sight is devotees going around the other devotees while wearing tattered clothing and pleading for handouts.