September to November are the months of the festival season in India – Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra, Eid and Diwali are the biggies. Its all a bit frantic, the traffic is terrible but there are lots of holidays and its all very colourful.
It was Dussehra two days ago. The word Dussehra comes from the Sanskrit Dasha-hara, which literally means remover of ten. This refers to Rama’s defeat of the ten-headed demon king Ravana. Ravana had abducted Rama’s wife Sita and taken her to his kingdom in Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a battle to rescue Sita. This is the story of the Ramayana, one of the two great Hindu epics.
In northern India, for 10 days before Dussehra, a play called the Ramlila is performed. On the final day, effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanad are filled with firecrackers and burnt. This burning symbolizes the destruction of evil.
In Maharashtra, people worship their tools of trade on the ninth day of Dussehra. They decorate these items with flowers, pray and distribute sweets. Flower sellers set up little stalls on the pavements and sell garlands made of marigold and leaves from the Ashoka tree. I love these stalls. All it takes is a mat spread on the pavement and garlands hanging from a string.
Flower stall on the pavement
Cars, Trucks and Auto-rickshaws with garlands