Top 5 Unique Dussehra Celebrations!

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Navratri, Durga Puja or Dussehra , this festival is one of the most colourful in India. Celebrated for nine nights and ten days, the festival means different things for different communities. Dandiya nights, Durga Puja, procession of elephants, a display of navratri golu or dolls in homes, colourful rangolis, burning of Ravana’s effigies – the fanfare and the pageantry takes one’s breath away.

Photo of Top 5 Unique Dussehra Celebrations! 1/6 by Umang Dave

Every state in India has its own version of the celebration. From Assam to Gujarat, from Himachal Pradesh to Andhra Pradesh, the celebrations are as different as chalk and cheese and yet, the spirit is the same. If you would like to travel during the festival to see some of the events during the festival, these are the places that should be on your wishlist.

The main metros – Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi celebrate the festival with great fanfare , but all three cities celebrate Dussehra in their own way. Walk the streets of Chennai , especially North Mada Street to see some of the most colourful dolls depicting stories from Indian mythology. Kolkatta is synonymous with Durga Puja and Delhi with the burning of Ravan’s effigy . Both the cities offer a spectacle that you associate with the festive spirit here.

1.Pondicherry – Cuddalore

The home of the artisans and craftsmen who make these colourful bommais or dolls for Navratri Golu is Panrupti, a small town near Cuddalore. Almost every household here has a craftsman and they are in great demand during the season. Pondicherry has its own street corners where you can buy these dolls as well. These dolls depict stories from Indian mythology and are made of clay. There are stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata, of weddings between Gods and Goddesses and battles between the Gods and Demons.

Photo of Top 5 Unique Dussehra Celebrations! 2/6 by Umang Dave

2. Mysore

The royal city that is most synonymous with Dussehra is Mysore.Tourists all over the world flock here to get a glimpse of the mega procession that happens on the last day , but the city is full of events everyday. You have a variety to choose from – music, arts, crafts ,royal walks. So make a date with this city this festive season. Do not miss the sight of the elephants carrying goddess Chamundeshwari all over the city.

What you can’t miss

• Watch the Jumbo Savaari or the elephant procession. Led by decorated royal elephants, it starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at the Dasara parade ground.

• More than 100,000 lights decorate the Mysore Palace, making it truly a visual treat!

• Visit the Dasara exhibition; held at the exhibition grounds every year since 1880. This exhibition is a gamut of joy rides, gastronomic treats, shopping options and much more.

Photo of Top 5 Unique Dussehra Celebrations! 3/6 by Umang Dave

3. Durga Puja, Kolkata

The city of Kolkata gets into a crazy festive mood celebrating Durga Puja. You will find theme pandals, artistic idols, fancy light decorations, musical performances, and traditionally dressed people all around. Durga Puja epitomizes Bengali culture in all its splendour; with art, culture, music, literature, and even food.

What you can’t miss

• Go pandal-hopping. Each one is unique, thematic and tells a story.

• Watch the Dhaak and Dhunuchi dances performed during the evening aarti. Dhaak is a variation of the drum and Dhunuchi is a small mud vessel that holds fire. Dhunuchi is held in the hand, mouth and even balanced on the forehead, and a dance is performed to the fervent Dhaak beats.

• Eat, eat and eat! Like all Bengali festivals, this one too is all about food. Do taste the city’s famous egg rolls.

• On the last day of puja, ,married women clad in traditional red and white sarees smear each other’s faces with sindoor as part of Sindoor Khela, symbolising a happy and long married life.

• The Durga idol is immersed in the Ganga River amidst loud cheers, fireworks, and fervent dances; the festival inching towards its crescendo.

4. Delhi

In Delhi, Dussehra is celebrated as the day when Lord Ram defeated the evil Ravana. Temples are decorated, religious music is played and Ramlila is performed. Effigies of Ravana, Meghanad and Kumbhakaran are set on fire in almost every neighbourhood in the city with crowds cheering enthusiastically.

Photo of Top 5 Unique Dussehra Celebrations! 4/6 by Umang Dave

What you can’t miss

• Must watch Ramlila, a traditional theatrical representation of the Ramayana. Storytelling is in a traditional folklore style with fancy costumes and dramatic dialogues.

• Ravana’s effigy is burnt amidst fanfare followed by an amazing fireworks’ display that lights up the sky in beautiful colours.

5. Kullu

Kullu, a town in Himachal Pradesh is renowned for its unique Dussehra celebrations. Idols of gods and goddesses from nearby villages are carried on the heads of worshippers and brought to the fair ground where they meet their main deity, Lord Raghunath. For seven days, the valley wears a celebratory look. On the last day, the procession is taken to the Beas River where a pile of wood and grass is set afire; symbolizing the burning of Ravana’s Lanka.

Photo of Top 5 Unique Dussehra Celebrations! 5/6 by Umang Dave

What you can’t miss

• Participate in the Rath Yatra or the procession of Lord Raghunath on a decorated chariot led by the King of Kullu.

• Visit the fair to enjoy the folk music and dance. Do shop for authentic handicrafts.

A tip for shoppers: Buy the traditional Pattu patterned shawl or cap.

Photo of Top 5 Unique Dussehra Celebrations! 6/6 by Umang Dave

This post was originally published on Wayfarers Club.

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