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Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is celebrated on the tenth day, which follows nine days of Durga Pooja, in the month of Ashwin some time in September/October. During Dussehra celebrations, Ramalila is enacted for nine days. Jhankis (tableaux) are taken out in procession, showing on each day one stage of Lord Rama's life. On the tenth day, massive effigies of Ravana, his younger brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanatha are erected, stuffed with crackers and set aflame at sunset. The fire is triggered by an arrow shot by the man playing the role of Rama and thus evil in the form of Ravana is destroyed. Dussehra was basically a royal festival with Durga as the patron-deity of all ruling Hindu families and sometimes even of Muslim rulers. In Mysore at the Chamundi temple, a splendidly decorated procession elephants, courtiers and court symbols is brought to the temple for the festival. In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, families arrange dolls, Bommai Kolu, on artificially constructed steps and prepare an elaborate spread of lamps and flowers. Dussehra is also reminiscent of the end of the exile of the Pandavas of Mahabharata and their return to reclaim their kingdom. In memory of this epic story, people in Maharashtra worship the implements of their professions and distribute the leaves of the Shami tree as "gold" and express their goodwill.



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