A festival celebrated by Hindus all over India, this is also known as Vijay Dashmi ( 'Vijay' meaning 'victory' and 'Dashmi' meaning 'tenth day' ). It is celebrated with much gusto on the tenth day of the lunar month, approximately 20 days prior to the major Hindu festival, Diwali. Many legends surround this festival. It is believed that Lord Rama killed the demon Ravana and took over his kingdom, Lanka. In Bengal, it is believed to be the day when goddess Durga annihilated the evil demon Mahisasura. The essence of this festival is the victory of good over evil, the triumph of light over darkness.
Celebrations commence days ahead of Dussehra, from the first day of the lunar month till the ninth. This period of nine days is known as 'navratras' and is a time of fasting for the devout. No Indian festival is complete without dance and this is no exception. Dance festivals known as 'Dandiya' are organized at various levels and are an essential part of the Dussehra festivities. Another important aspect of the celebrations is the enactment of Lord Rama's story, the Ramlila, which takes place in different locales all over the city. Many neighborhoods organize their own Ramlilas at the community level and these carry on well into the night. Don't be surprised if you hear blaring music from public parks where temporary theaters have been set up. Its all excused in the name of celebration! On the tenth day, huge effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath are burnt signifying the destruction of evil. People throng parks and other open grounds where this event takes place and delight in the sight of these demons going up in flames accompanied by thundering fireworks. It is truly a sight to behold as the crowds let out a roar of cheer as one by one the effigies topple even as they are up in flames, bringing home the message that good always succeeds while wickedness meets an undignified end.
The large Bengali population in Delhi celebrates Durga Puja with fervor and devotion. Huge images of the goddess Durga are installed in 'pandals' (tents) set up in parks around Delhi. These images decked up in all their finery and twinkling lights make a pretty picture. People from all walks of life visit these pandals and seek blessings. Prayers are recited and bhajans (devotional songs) are sung well into the night. Many 'melas' (fairs) too are held during these days which add to the general mood of gaiety and celebration.