Dussehra is considered as one of the most important festivals of Karnataka. Kannadigas believe that Lord Venkatesh (Vishnu) married Shridevi and Bhudevi on this day. On this day, devotees conduct the marriage of Lord Venkatesh with the two goddesses. Similar rituals are performed at homes where devotees gather to seek blessings.
One such household is of Ashok Nagarhalli, a resident of Vastrapur. Nagarhalli said, “Dussehra marks the end of Shrinivas Kalyan, where the priest holds a religious discourse on the life of Lord Vishnu and his marriage.” A grand feast (prasad) is organised for relatives and friends.
“In the evening, we have Deepotsav. Some households organize pandals on their terrace to accommodate people,” said Nagarhalli.
Keralites pray to the Goddess for support in their endeavours. While students keep their books in front of the Goddess, workers keep their equipment and instruments. Once placed there, these items are not touched for two days (ninth and 10th day of Navratri). Member of Ahmedabad Kerala Samajam, V Harshan said, “On this day, newborns and children are taken to temples where they are introduced to writing. In the city, these rituals will be followed at Vasna’s Ayyappa temple and Sree Guruvayoorappan Temple on Narol-Lambha Road. Apart from this, every Keralite household will have variety of food items, payasam (kheer), Appam (sweet dish) and different vegetable curries.
Bihari community celebrates the day to mark the victory of Lord Rama over Raavan. After worship of the ‘kalash’ for nine days, on 10th day, the kalash is immersed in water.
The community also worships instruments and weapons on this day. “In earlier times, kings used to worship their arms on this day praying for success in all battles, for which it is called ‘Vijayadashami’,” said Lalbihari Jha, a resident of Ghatlodia, who has installed the kalash in his house. He also shared that the small leaves of jantri (seeds sown on first day of Navratri in a pot), are preserved in books and at religious places.
The tradition of having fafda-jalebi on Dussehra was prevalent in the Sindhi community before partition of India. Chairman of Puj Sindhi Panchayat, Jagdish Shahdadpuri said, “We used to follow the tradition of having fafda jalebi before India’s partition, but then it was home-made and a bit different.” Instead of fafda, Sindhis used to have paapdi and sweet boondi. Another interesting ritual followed on Dussehra is of worshipping a tree by taking its rounds, chanting ‘Kandi Ram Chandra ji vandi’ (Lord Ram’s troubles have vanished on this day). “A priest distributes pieces of clay to all the devotees, which we consider as auspicious as gold. We keep it safely at our home. Businessmen keep these pieces in their locker/drawer along with their wealth as they believe that this will help in increasing the wealth.
For the Bengalis, it is the day of culmination of five-day Durga Puja celebration. With ‘sindoor khel’ and immersion procession, the Bengali devotees mark the victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasura. Vice-president of Bengal Cultural Association, S Roy said, “To mark the celebration, Bengali women play with sindoor, which is considered important for the married life of a woman.” He also said that the association will immerse the idol in Sabarmati in the evening, followed by cultural programme and a musical night. Bengalis believe that the Goddess arrived on an elephant and will depart on a boat.
For people of Andhra Pradesh, Dussehra marks the culmination of nine-day goddess puja. Balaji temple of the city has major plans for the day. The community has a sami puja in which weapons are worshipped. Member of Ahmedabad Andhra Mahasabha PV Prasad said, “We believe that Arjun, when sent in exile, hid his weapons under a tree. So on this day, weapons are worshipped.” He further said that the idol of Lord Balaji is placed under a tree and worshipped.
Secretary of the Mahasabha, K Subbarayudu talked about the belief that on Dussehra, god moves out for hunting. “To symbolise it, we carry out an idol of Lord Balaji in a palanquin.”