On the occasion of Vijayadashami, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a gathering and set the effigies of Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhakaran ablaze at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Friday. The burning of the giant effigies since 1924 at one of the city’s most high-profile Ramleela events at the grounds opposite the historic Red Fort signifies the triumph of good over evil. PM Modi will share the stage with President Ram Nath Kovind and other leaders.
Vijayadashami or Dussehra (Dasara) is celebrated on the tenth day of Navratri festival. In the northern and southern states, it is celebrated to mark the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana. While in eastern and northeastern states of India, it commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the demon king, and also marks the end of Durga Puja celebrations. Many people conclude the celebrations by taking part in processions to a river or seaside to participate in idol immersion. They chant slogans and bid an emotional farewell to the goddess and seek her blessings.
Dussehra in a way also marks the onset of preparations for the festival of lights – Diwali, which falls twenty days after the festival. As part of Dussehra celebrations, huge and colourful effigies of Ravana, most times along with that of his brothers Meghanada and Kumbakaran, are burnt in large huge open grounds. This is done to celebrate Lord Ram’s victory over the Ravana, who abducted his wife Sita.
Both the festivals – Dashami and Dusshera, even if they follow different rituals, ultimately convey the same message – the victory of good over evil. Celebrations also include organising the famed and popular Ramlila performances which involve people enacting the life and glory of the righteous Lord Ram through short plays, songs, and dance drama. In cities like Varanasi however, the entire life of Ram is acted out by artists every evening for an entire month. The famous Ramlila of Ramnagar is organised, which spans over 31 days, and is recognised as an intangible cultural heritage of India by UNESCO.
Dussehra is celebrated with much fervour and excitement in the northern states of Varanasi, Ayodhya, Vrindavan, Madhubani, Almora and other cities of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttarakhand.