Navratri, or Dussehra, is one of the greatest festivals in India. It is celebrated in different ways in different cities. It begins every year in the middle of Ashwin month which lies in October. This 10-day festival begins with fasting and worship of Goddess Durga, followed by the 10th day celebrating the burning efficacies of Ravana and his brothers. This year, Navratri will begin on the 15th of October, and Dusshera falls on the 24th of October 2023. People celebrate this festival in different styles and beliefs. As per Hindu mythology, some celebrate the goddess Durga's victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasur, while others celebrate Lord Rama's win over the demon king Ravana. The main theme is always about good winning over evil. To experience the fervour and excitement of Durga Puja in India, you can plan a trip to some best-picked places where the celebration is made in unique ways. Here are the 7 best places in India where the Navratri & Dussehra celebrations are a must-see.
Kolkata West Bengal:
Durga Puja, a major celebration in Kolkata, West Bengal, glorifies Goddess Durga's triumph over the buffalo demon Mahishasura. In Bengal, Dussehra is summed up as "pujo," a term that unites Bengalis more than rosogolla or football ever could. It symbolizes a cultural bond and vibrant celebrations deeply cherished by the community. The city transforms with vibrant decorations, featuring exquisite pandals adorned with finely crafted idols of the goddess.
This grand festivity encompasses cultural performances, traditional ceremonies, sumptuous feasts, and a strong sense of community unity. People from diverse backgrounds unite to revel in the festivities, creating a truly magnificent and joyful atmosphere. In Bengali and Odia traditions, the deities are viewed as Durga's children, and the festival marks her visit to her parental abode along with her beloved offspring. Preceding the celebrations is Mahalaya, signifying the commencement of Durga's journey to her natal home.
Mysore Dasara isn't just your average Dussehra celebration—it's a grand spectacle that seamlessly blends tradition, festivity, and modernity. The entire city, particularly the magnificent Amba Vilas Palace, adorns itself with decorations and lights for ten days. This centuries-old tradition traces back to Mysore's days under the Vijayanagara Empire. The festivities commence with a traditional puja dedicated to the presiding deity, Chamundeshwari, atop Chamundi hills. Each day, Yaduveer Wadiyar, the scion of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom, reenacts a ceremonial darbar, complete with royal courtiers and traditional attire. The culmination of this extravaganza is on Vijayadashami, featuring a grand procession with elephants, vintage cars, floats, marching bands, and a mesmerizing torchlight display. Throughout the ten days, the city buzzes with dance performances, music concerts, theatre acts, folk performances, poetry readings, sports events, a youth festival, an expansive fair at the Dasara Grounds, and captivating aerial displays, offering a plethora of experiences for all to enjoy. So don’t miss the chance to explore this city at Durga Pooja.
Navratri is a lively and colourful festival dedicated to Amba Mataji, a goddess many people admire. During these nine days, in homes and temples, people worship images of Mataji using special customs and traditions. Temples are always busy with people coming to seek Mataji's blessings all day long. However, the most exciting part of Navratri happens in public, where people dance and enjoy a traditional folk dance called Garba or Dandiya-Ras. This lively dance happens late into the night for all nine days of the festival. People fill public spaces like squares, open grounds, and streets with music, dance, and happiness. Everyone wears traditional Gujarati clothes and dances to lively beats, holding special sticks called dandiya. It is a time of celebration, music, and dance, and it is also an opportunity to meet new people and maybe find a special someone if you are looking. People eagerly await invitations to Garba parties, which promise a lively atmosphere and a chance to meet potential partners while enjoying the rhythmic festivities.
Kota in Rajasthan is famous for its lively Dussehra Mela, a big fair. On Dussehra day, special prayers and ceremonies happen in the royal palace from the morning. The king and his royal family then travel in a colourful parade to the fairground. They light up and burst towering statues of the demon king Ravana, and his brothers Kumbhakaran and Meghnath, creating a beautiful display in the sky. The fair is a grand event featuring a cattle fair, cultural programs organized by the Kota municipality, local handicrafts, and tasty Rajasthani food. People often wear vibrant traditional clothes and visit temples before enjoying the fair. The best part is the lively parade from the palace to the fairground, with beautifully decorated camels, horses, and elephants. The fair has rides, games, and lots to see, including food stalls offering delicious local snacks. The Kota Dussehra ends with the exciting burning of huge effigies of Ravana, filled with cheering and celebration. It is a great way to wrap up the festivities.
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Dussehra in Kullu, a beautiful place in Himachal Pradesh, is a unique and lively celebration. The festivities last for seven days and start when Dussehra celebrations are ending in other places. During this time, idols of gods and goddesses are carried by devotees in a procession to meet the main God, Lord Raghunath. The procession is led by the King of Kullu and is quite a spectacle. On the last day, there's a big procession to the River Beas where a pile of wood is set on fire, symbolizing the burning of Ravana’s Lanka. The town is filled with music, dance, and a big fair where you can shop for traditional handicrafts and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Kullu. It's a wonderful blend of tradition and celebration amidst the breathtaking natural beauty of Kullu.
Delhi: Capital of India
Dussehra in Delhi is a vibrant and thrilling celebration, making it one of the most exciting forms of this festival. The nine days leading up to this event involve prayers and fasting, setting the stage for the grand finale. The climax is a spectacular fireworks display, where enormous effigies of the demon king Ravana and his brothers are set ablaze. The night sky is illuminated with bursts of crackers as these effigies explode, accompanied by the cheers and excitement of the gathered crowds in public parks. Additionally, you can enjoy a Ramlila show, a captivating theatrical performance depicting the timeless battle of good triumphing over evil. Delhi hosts popular Ramlila shows at Ramlila Maidan, the Red Fort grounds, and the Red Fort lawns, offering a cultural and entertaining experience for all.
Varanasi: Shiv Nagari
Varanasi is devoted to Shiva, and it is also called Shiv Nagari. Navratri is the Hindus' famous festival celebration of nine days, and here they also celebrate their unique traditional way. The city offers a mix of cultural festivals, including Delhi-style Ramlila performances and lively Durga Puja celebrations like the spirited traditions of Kolkata. A tradition started by the King of Kashi, a famous Ramlila show deeply rooted in history, is organized in Ram Nagar, about 15 kilometres away. Varanasi is home to a large Bengali minority, which gives the celebrations an original "puja" flavour, complete with the deity's symbolic immersion in the holy Ganges. Due to the combination of traditions, Dussehra in Varanasi is a unique and varied display that represents India's cultural identity. If you love to show live performances or Natak, you must visit Varanasi to explore this city. To reach Varanasi, you can board a train or hire a car in Delhi for Varanasi.
Durga Pooja is celebrated all over India in different ways we are talking about Bihar, Bihar also celebrates this festival in its own way because Bihar still follows its own traditions and cultures. there are Installed pandals and Set up the Murti of Durga Maa in villages and Ram Leela where people's mythology is the Navaratri celebrate only Hindus. In Bihar Celebrate Durga pooja in Bengal Style we also call it the touch of Bengal Culture because Bengali people have been behind the present form of Durga Puja in Bihar. This is the reason that after West Bengal, if Durga Puja is celebrated with much fanfare anywhere, then those two three states are Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam.