The festival of Dussehra is the principle celebration in many parts of the country. It is celebrated with great fanfare in Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Mysore in Karnataka and slightly differently as Durga puja in West Bengal. It is the climax of nine day long festivities during the Navaratri.
The highlight of Dussehra in Kullu is a colourful procession in which idols of local deities are carried round the town to the accompaniment of joyous music. If here the flavour is distinctly rural and rustic, in Mysore this day is reserved for display of resplendent regalia. A caparisoned elephant is the mount of the Goddess Chamunda, the protector deity of Karnataka who rides atop a golden howdah - ornate mount with a seat. The palace in Mysore is so well lit up that it outshines the moon. In Varanasi the burning of huge images of ten-headed Ravana provide the finale of perhaps the most spectacular re-telling of the Rama legend.
Dussehra also commemorates the annihilation of the Buffalo demon Mahishasur by the warrior goddess Durga. In West Bengal, the run-up to the Dussehra is marked by community worship dedicated to the mother goddess - the supreme female principle. Beautifully decorated pandals - stalls - are set up to showcase scenes from mythology and even depict slices of life of contemporary celebrities! Different stalls, vie with one another in providing spellbinding tableaus and mouth watering delicacies. This is a time for leaving all the cares behind and to express the dormant creativity. The whole of province of Bengal is gripped with a cultural fever. Contests of song and dance provide lively entertainment in all localities.