Dussehra festival lights up India

Millions of Indians have taken part in colourful processions and burnt effigies as they celebrate one of Hinduism's most popular festivals.

    Revellers immerse colourful icons of gods in rivers and ponds

    In the north of the country, thousands of statues of the 10-headed demon king Ravana, his son Meghnath and brother Kumbhkarna were placed in parks and other open spaces ready to be burnt on Sunday evening.
      
    The holiday, known as Dussehra, celebrates the legend of Hindu god Ram, who had to rescue his wife Sita after she was kidnapped by the demon king.
      
    Ram and his brother Laxman battled the demons for ten days before winning back Sita. Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkarna were all killed in the fight.

    Flaming arrows

    The battle is re-enacted across northern India at sundown, with actors dressed as Ram, shooting flaming arrows at the effigies, which are stuffed with crackers and other explosives.
      
    Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, is expected to visit one of Dussehra celebrations in New Delhi before leaving on a week-long visit to Indonesia and Thailand.

    In eastern India, Hindus mark the triumph of good over evil with the Durga Puja festival, which celebrates the goddess Durga's slaying of a demon. 

    Intricate idols 
      
    The festival began nine days ago and culminated on Sunday evening when the 10-armed goddess is carried for immersion to rivers and ponds. 

    In southern India, Hindus offer special prayers to three Hindu goddesses including Durga, who is known locally as Shakti. The other deities are Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and Saraswati, the deity of learning and the arts.
      
    In the southern city of Mysore, the holiday is marked with a colourful street procession led by elephants, a great draw for tourists from India and abroad.

    SOURCE: AFP


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