Dussehra, also called Vijayadashami, is a festival in India celebrated in the seventh month of the Hindu Lunar calendar. Taking place this year from 27 September to 8 October, the celebrations will be held in many regions across India, which may impact international assignments and expatriates’ general travel plans. However, the festival is a truly amazing spectacle and one to be enjoyed by assignees.
The event symbolizes the victory of good over evil, marking the triumph of Rama, a Hindu God, over the 10-headed demon king, Ravana. Hence the festival’s name, which derives from the Sanskrit words dasha (‘ten’) and hara (‘defeat’).
The festival is celebrated with great fervor and fanfare, with each region in India having its own unique traditions. Celebrations in the north of India include the ‘Ram Lila’, a theatrical enactment of Rama’s life story, where effigies of Ravana are stuffed with firecrackers and set ablaze. It is believed that in the town of Varanasi (the world’s oldest city), this performance has been running for nearly 200 years.
In the central tribal region, the Dussehra event is the biggest festival of the year and lasts for 75 days! Unsurprisingly, it's often referred to as the longest festival in the world, with the region's major tribes performing rare rituals, dressed in bright traditional attire.
Dussehra is known as Durga Puja in West Bengal, and the region has a fantastic carnival atmosphere that visitors often liken to the famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. On the last day of the festival, idols are taken out in a procession for immersion in the Hooghly River.
The festival is known as Dasara in the south of India, with the main event held in the city of Mysore, Karnataka. Lasting for 10 days, the beautiful Mysore Palace is illuminated by almost 100,000 lights, whilst numerous activities and cultural performances take place.
If you are in India during this time, do try to catch these festivities, they are not to be missed!
Like any major, national event, celebrations may impact international assignees’ travel and relocation plans in the lead-up to and during the festival. As such, assignees in India should allow more time for travel as road closures will be in place in major cities, and they should also prepare for possible delays to household goods shipments.
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