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Dussehra 2017: Nation celebrates festival with religious fervour

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    Community pandal highlights Egyptian culture in Kolkata

    Dussehra is a festival that celebrates Hindu god Rama's victory over the demon king Ravana. Celebrations in the preceding nine-days of Navratri include recital of the Ramayana as a Ramlila and dandiya raas.

    Vijayadashami, also known as Dussehra, marks the end of Durga Puja, and hence, also remembers goddess Durga's victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to help restore Dharma.

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    Bollywood actress Sudha Chandran performs at Koradi Sanskrutik and Durga Mahotsav 2017 in Nagpur

    While the northern and southern parts of the country commemorate it as the day of Ram's victory over Ravana, the eastern part remembers the slaying by Durga of Mahisasura, the buffalo demon.

    Though each state adds its own flavour to Dussehra, its symbolism remains the same - the triumph of good over evil.

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    Workers busy in making effigies of the evil king Ravana at a workshop ahead of Dussehra festival

    Enormous effigies of Ravana, who had abducted Sita, are burnt along with that of his brothers Meghanada and Kumbakaran in the north and south as part of Dussehra celebrations.

    Ramlila performances, which involve people enacting the life and glory of Ram through short plays, also form an essential part of the revelry.

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    Devi Durga idol installed at a puja pandal in Kolkata

    According to the Ramayana, before attacking Lanka in search of his wife Sita, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn - a time when the gods sleep, according to the Hindu religious texts.

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    An artist performs as Goddess Kali at a local fair during Dussehra celebrations in Allahabad

    Therefore, Lord Rama had to first wake up the goddess prematurely, and as such, the awakening in the autumnal festival is called "Akal (untimely) Bodhan" of the goddess.

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    People visit a community puja pandal on 'Mahasaptami' in Kolkata

    However, mythology also states that the puja celebrates the annual descent of Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon Mahishashur, accompanied by her four children - Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati - on the Earth to visit her parents.

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    The puja is usually a five-day event with Sasthi (September 26) and the subsequent four days - Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami - marked by frenzied pandal-hopping (visiting marquees) in new clothes, meeting friends and family and stuffing oneself to the brim with traditional delicacies.

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    The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from the Earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva at Kailash on Dashami.

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    Former cricketer Sourav Ganguly pays visit to a pandal

    In Bengal and Eastern India, Vijayadashami marks the end of Durgotsava. On the tenth day, married women bid a tearful goodbye to Goddess Durga and celebrate 'Sindur Khela.'

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    Mysore Palace

    Mysore Dussehra celebrations, the official state festival of Karnataka, are known to be the most spectacular in the nation. The city on this day looks the brightest as the famous Mysuru Palace is lit up with 100,000 light bulbs, making for a stunning sight.

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