Saturday, 15 December 2007

The Triumph of Good over Evil at Dussehra

Crowds gathered for Dussehra celebrations, New Delhi.

In India the season of celebrations is in fall. Usually the festive season is kicked of with the celebration of Dussehra (this year on 21st October), which commemorates the mythical victory of Ram and his allies, over the demon king of (Sri) Lanka. On this occasion the triumph of good over evil is re-enacted by burning effigies of the demon king, Ravana (and occasionally some of his allies). Along with Nitoli and Danish Embassy Intern Andrea I took a rickshaw to one of the city's big Dussehra events at Kalkaji, seen in the picture above. There were thousands of people, but unfortunately just as we arrived and before we had gotten into place for a good view they set fire to Ravana. So disappointed we jumped on a bus back to Greater Kailash...

...only to discover to our great joy, that Dussehra celebrations were also happening in the park right next to our apartment and that the demons were still standing here. It's Ravana in the middle watching the fireworks give word of the upcoming battle.

The first of Ravana's cohorts has been set on fire...

...and exactly 27 seconds later the fire reaches his demonic stomach setteng of an explosion of rockets, crackers, fire and deafening noise.

This tradition of burning demons, is somewhat similar to the Danish custom of burning witches at Midsummer (yes, yes I know - it's a horrible way of honouring one of the most horrible customs of the dark ages, but it's just tradition and doesn't really mean anything). However our witches tend to burn slowly, whereas these Lankan demons are filled with such a massive quantity of fireworks that they tend to explode rather than burn.

And predictably, one of the rockets flew into a nearby pile of old branches and leaves setting our park on fire.

Luckily the well prepared arrangers had taken all eventualities into account, so they had one (1!) bucket and a garden hose ready to combat the fire. I don't know how they did it, but they managed to kill the fire before it spread, so the celebrations could continue.

The second cohort of Ravana goes off. The intensity of light and heat from the climax of the explosion was so intense that I was fearing damage to my camera. It seemed to get through without any permanent damage though.

Finally attention turned to Demon King himself. Doesn't he look evil? Time to get him vanquished until next year...

Here Ravana gets lit...

And in the biggest blast of the night Ravana gets sent back to hell, good triumphs over evil, and everyone goes home happy.

Here you can see how loud the explosions were. Nitoli and Andrea had to cover their ears. But then again, this picture was taken after the event, so they are actually just posing.


MAYAJAAL0077 said...

thanks man for intresting in our culture you are gr8, thanks once again,

by mayajaal0077

Esben said...

My pleasure :)