New Delhi: Towering effigies of 10-headed demon king Ravana, his son Meghnad and brother Kumbhakaran crackled in fiery splendour marking the triumph of good over evil as gusto and fervour marked Dussehra festivities across the country on Wednesday. Amid beating of drums, devotees, dancing frenziedly, also bid adieu to goddess Durga as she returned to her celestial abode. At sundown, the fire crackers-stuffed giant effigies, dotting grounds and open spaces in towns and villages, went up in flames as crowds burst into cheers.
With security forces keeping a hawk-eye vigil, the festivities passed off peacefully in different parts of the country. In the national capital, President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were among a large number of dignitaries who watched the evil going up in smoke at Parade and Ramlila grounds. Dussehra, which also marks the end of scorching summer and heralding of winter, is preceded by nine auspicious days of Navaratri during which devotees pray, fast and feast.
Ramlilas, vivid enactments from the life of Hindu god Rama, were staged in large parts of the country during the nine days preceding the festival. Hundreds of idols of goddess Durga, which had adorned the marquees, were immersed in holy rivers by devotees marking the culmination of festivities. A number of fairs were also held on the occasion of Dussehra which also symbolises the triumph of warrior goddess Durga over buffalo demon Mahishasura.
In scenic Himachal Pradesh, the week-long Kullu Dussehra festival got off to a spectacular start with the traditional Rath Yatra of Lord Raghunathji at sprawling Dhalpur Maidan. Kullu Dussehra is an amalgam of history, culture and customs and the entire valley remains agog with fervour for one week.
A number of effigies of demons were soaked by rains which drenched the Union Territory of Chandigarh and large parts of Punjab and Haryana on Tuesday evening. The President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the Congress president and a host of leaders greeted people on the joyous occasion hoping the festival would usher in peace, prosperity and happiness for all.