Effigies of demon king Ravana are ready to be burnt and farewell prayers are being offered to Goddess Durga as Hindus across India prepare to celebrate Dussehra after nine days of prayers, fasting and feasting.
Celebrating the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana, Dussehra symbolises the triumph of good over evil. Preceding the festival are the nine auspicious days of navaratri, during which the Ramlila is enacted at numerous places to show the Ramayana hero's journey as a prince, his 14-year exile in forest, his wife Sita's abduction by Ravana the king of Lanka and the war fought to rescue her.
The tale ends with Ram and Lakshman killing Ravana and effigies of the demon king, his brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnad are burnt on Dussehra to celebrate the victory. Apart from the main Ramlila grounds near Red Fort in Delhi, effigies of all sizes of the trio dot grounds across the capital and in many parts of north India, waiting to go up in flames at dusk.
Coinciding with Dussehra is the last day of Durga Puja, when goddess Durga gets a farewell from her devotees as she returns to her celestial abode. Amid beating of drums, clashing of cymbals and frenzied dancing, hundreds of idols of Durga, which have adorned puja pandals (marquees) for four days, would be immersed in the river Yamuna in the national capital.
While crowds thronged Ramlila grounds to enjoy the drama, relish the tasty aloo tikki, golgappas and chaat at the food stalls set up there, the scene was no different at the puja pandals, where married women smeared sindoor, first on the idol of the goddess and then one another.