Dussehra celebration in India is definitely a spectacle to behold! The festival is celebrated in myriad ways in the country but at the core of them all lies the same essence of celebrating the victory of good over evil. People in different states celebrate it in their own unique ways. What remains the same across all of those traditions is their vibrancy and ethnicity. The nine days of Navratri following up to it commemorate the killing of the demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. The tenth day of Vijayadashami marks the destruction of the Lanka demon, Ravana, by Lord Rama.
Dussehra celebration in different states differs with the region and the culture, hence, wherever you go across the nation, you will experience a different Dussehra altogether. Here’s how the festival is celebrated in different parts of the country.
Different Ways Dussehra Celebrated In India
1. Kolkata Durga Pujo
Think grand and colorful pandals, delicious and sacred bhogs, and Dhunuchi dance celebrations to uproarious dhaak beats. That’s what Durga Pujo of West Bengal is all about! That’s the one time of the year when Kolkata visibly turns into the City of Joy. They set up huge pandals, each decorated very intricately, with a unique theme, narrating its own tale. Enjoying Durga Puja in Kolkata is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Head there to visit the best Dussehra celebration in India.
- Things to do: Apart from enjoying the lively pandals, you can head to the traditional Bonedi Bari pujas and explore the vivids shades of the festival in the 400-year old palaces the city boasts.
- Places to eat: Try Puchkas and Kathi Rolls from the streets of Kolkata. Head to Park Street, Camac Street, Fairlie Place, Dacre Lane, and Burrabazaar for some mouth-watering street food. Do visit Balwant Singh Eating House on SP Mukherjee Road to experience the famous tea culture of the city.
2. Mysore Dasara
Dasara in Mysuru is celebrated with great pomp and show in order to commemorate the event from which the city got its very name. As the legend goes, Goddess Chamundeshwari (also called Durga) had killed the demon Mahishasura and this iconic event is celebrated till date with much grandeur.
The Goddess is revered as a warrior and hence many military parades, cultural performances, and athletic contests take place as a part of the Dussehra celebration. The Mysuru Palace is brilliantly lit and the special Durbar there is attended by the members of the royal family and by the masses.
- Things to do: Do not miss out on the majestic Dasara procession that floods the streets of the city on this auspicious day. It is more popularly called as the Jumbo Savari and is totally a site to behold!
- Places to eat: To relish the best food in Mysore, head to La Uppu, By The Blue, The Foodie Restaurant, The Old House, and Vinayaka Mylari among several others.
3. Ahmedabad Dussehra
The festival of Dussehra is celebrated as Navratra in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. You can find people engaging in Garba, that is the main folk dance of the state, throughout the 9 days of Navratra. People get together and dance to the tune of traditional folk songs, while playing with sticks in their hands, for the Dusshera celebration. They wear their traditional clothes, with men sporting Kedias and women looking all colorful in their Lehenga Cholis.
- Things to do: Do watch their trademark Garba dance that especially goes on throughout the night after the aarti of Goddess Durga has been performed.
- Places to eat: To gorge on some mouth-watering food, head to R Kitchen, Bayleaf, Swati Snacks, Rajwadu, and Momo Cafe.
4. Kullu Dussehra
In Kullu in Himachal, the festival of Dussehra is celebrated with great vigor for straight 7 days. The Dhalpur Maidan turns into a hub for the loud celebrations that focus primarily on the worship of Lord Raghunath. A huge procession goes out with the villagers taking the idols of local gods and goddesses to the main ground for the festival. The entire Kullu valley looks very bright and colorful during the Dussehra celebration week full of cheerful festivities and joy.
- Things to do: Attend the wonderful procession that illuminates the town on this day. Also, the festival concludes with the performance of Lankadahan (burning of Lanka) by the side of the Beas river, that you must totally watch.
- Places to eat: To try some delicious food, head to Nightingale, Evergreen, Panj Tara Bar & Grill, Moon Dance Cafe, and Jim Morrison Cafe.
5. Delhi Dussehra
The capital city of Delhi celebrates Dussehra in a spectacularly lively manner. The defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama is commemorated by replicating the event in parks, streets, and grounds all around the city.
During the nine days following up to the actual Vijayadashmi, you will see temples around the city beautifully decorated, and hear religious music crooning all around. Ram Leela (or theatrical depiction of Ramayana) is performed almost at every nook and corner while most people in the city observe nine days of fasting during the Dussehra celebration.
- Things to do: Head to any Ram Leela ground in the city where on the tenth day, the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarana, and Meghnada are burnt with beautiful fireworks illuminating the sky. Also, for the Bengalis or anyone who is looking to go pandal-hopping, there are ample places in the city that set up colorful pandals of Goddess Durga to celebrate Durga Puja.
- Places to eat: Delhi is a foodie’s haven! Visit Momo’s Point and Bille Di Hatti in the North Campus, Wood Box Cafe and Mad Monkey in Hudson Lane, BYD and QD’s in South Campus, and Old Famous Jallebhiwala and Natraj Bhalle Walle in Old Delhi.
6. Punjab Dussehra
The people of Punjab celebrate Dussehra by honoring the Goddess Shakti. Most of them observe fast for the first seven days of Navratri post which they perform Jagraata that is singing of devotional songs while staying awake all night long. On the eighth day that is called Ashtami, they break open their fast by arranging a Bhandara or Kanjak for nine young girls, worshipping them all the while.
- Things to do: Attend the Jagraata in Navratre. Visit the families of the locals in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, and even the villages of Punjab to get an authentic Punjabi Dussehra celebration experience.
- Places to eat: Eat the Guru ka Langar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Relish some authentic Punjabi food at Bhai Kulwant Singh Kulchian Wale and Ahuja Milk Bhandaar in Amritsar.
7. Tamil Nadu Dasara
The people of Tamil Nadu celebrate this beautiful festival in a special way by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, Durga, and Saraswati. Married women visit each others’ homes and exchange kumkum, bangles, coconuts, betel leaves, betel nuts, and money as gifts.
- Things to do: Head to the temples in Tamil Nadu where lakhs and lakhs of people gather and wish things during the Dussehra celebration. One such famous temple is the Arultharum Mutharamman Thirukoil Temple where people worship Lord Mutharamman. There is a beach nearby to hang out and enjoy.
- Places to eat: Savour the Thirunelveli Halwa, Kumbakkonam Degree Filter Coffee, Ambur Biryani, Kancheepuram Idly, and Nanjilnadu Fish Curry.
8. Hyderabad’s Bathukamma
The City of Nizams celebrates Dussehra in the form of a beautiful festival dedicated to the Goddess Gauri called Bathukamma. The name literally means ‘Mother Goddess, Come Alive’. The festival is celebrated with much oomph across the state of Telangana and in parts of Andhra Pradesh.
Lord Ganesha is worshipped and women dance around a temple gopuram that has been made by stacking seven concentric circles of wood over one another in a flower-like arrangement. The festival starts on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya and ends on Ashwayuja Ashtami (also called Durgashtami). Each day of the festival is named after the kind of food given to the deity on that day.
- Things to do: Enjoy the fireworks in the city while enjoying delicious food like payasams and sabudana vadas during the Dussehra celebration. Head to Wonderla where you can enjoy many rides and in the evening, several artists, singers, and dancers are sure to light up your night!
- Places to eat: Visit Dakshin, Altitude Lounge Bar, Prego, Bawarchi, and Okra for some fine dining.
9. Bastar Dussehra in Chhattisgarh
Celebrated with great aplomb in the tribal heartland of Chhattisgarh, the Bastar Dussehra is a one-of-its-kind 75-day festival that reveres nature and spirituality. The presiding deity of Bastar is Devi Danteshwari who is worshipped throughout the festival. The tradition was started in Bade Dongar (the erstwhile capital of the Kakatiyas) by the 13th century Bastar King Purushottam Dev.
- Things to do: Watch a number of rare rituals being performed at this ancient tribal festival including kalash staphana (installation of urns), deri gadhai (posting of pillars), pata jatra (worshipping of wood), kachan gaadi (installation of throne for Devi Kachan), muria darbar (conference of tribal chiefs), nisha jatra (nocturnal festival), and on the concluding day, ohadi (farewell to deities).
- Places to eat: Head to Kerala Restaurant and CFC Chilly’s Family Restaurant in Jagdalpur, and Cafe Turning Point in Keshkal for some amazing foodie experiences.
10. Chennai’s Bommai Kolu
Dussehra celebrations in Chennai are gloriously evident in its streets that get adorned with kolus (tier-wise arrangement of idols of gods and goddesses on wooden padis). The vibrant tableaux depicts the Goddess Durga battling the demon Mahishasura, episodes from Ramayana, and scenes from Mahabharata.
The tradition doesn’t just focus on the ancient folklore, but honors even local wedding rituals, contemporary heroes (like Olympic winners) and other exhibits of innovation and creativity.
- Things to do: Watch the colorful tableaux that lights up the streets of Chennai on this wonderful day.
- Places to eat: Head to Avartana, Pan Asian, Seasonal Tastes, Peshawri, and Paprika that are among the best restaurants in the city.
11. Varanasi Ram Leela
One of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi is renowned for its Ram Leela that dates back to as early as 1800s since when it is being performed beside the Ramnagar Fort in the city. The tradition was started by Udit Narayan Singh, the then Maharaja of Banaras.
The vast area surrounding the fort is transformed into a huge stage depicting the prominent locations in the story including Ashok Vatika, Lanka, and Ayodhya. The actors make use of masks, music and big papier-mache figures to move from one location to another while enacting out the iconic tale and the audience follows them along.
- Things to do: Head to the Ramnagar Fort to witness the spectacular Ram Leela during the Dussehra celebration.
- Places to eat: Visit Vishnu Tea Emporium, The Palate, Tadka, Niyati Cafe, and Dosa Cafe that are some amazing food joints across the city.
12. Madikeri Dasara
The hilly town of Madikeri celebrates the festival of Dussehra in a very fascinating manner. The Dussehra celebration here is locally called the Mariamma festival named after the four temples dedicated to Goddess Mariamman. Each temple has its own unique Karaga that is essentially a ritualistic folk dance dedicated to Draupadi.
- Things to do: Celebrating Dussehra amidst the mesmerizing hills of Coorg (Kodagu) means enjoying the music while being surrounded by serene mountain air, gorging on delicious food like Pandi curry, Gobi Manchurian, and sipping on the famous Coorgi coffee. The main attraction is the gleaming parade that features figures of gods, goddesses, demons, and goblins enacting dramas based on traditional stories.
- Places to eat: Head to Barbeque Bay, Beans N Brews Cafe, Bigcup Cafe, Raintree, and Taste of Coorg for some delicious assortments.
13. Kerala Dasara
Initiating education is at the core of the celebrations that go on amongst the people of Kerala during this festival. They worship Goddess Saraswati and students particularly keep their books in front of Her idol for two days, along with other offerings including jaggery, sugarcane, and roasted paddy.
On the tenth day of Vijayadashami, a special puja is done after which only the books are taken back. Vehicles, domestic animals, and instruments are among the other things that are also worshipped during the Dussehra celebration by the people of Kerala.
- Things to do: Celebrate the victory of good over evil on the tenth day of Navratri, watching the burning of effigies of Ravana and the bursting of crackers. Feast on mouthwatering sweets and gobble up some crunchy savory snacks.
- Places to eat: Enjoy seafood at North Cliff in Varkala, South Indian food at Pai Brothers in Kochi, and the famous Dutch Bruder bread at Quality Bakery in Kochi.
14. Kota Dussehra
The town of Kota hosts a fun ‘Mela’ (fair) that features costume plays, cultural performances, grand displays of fireworks, and a number of stalls serving lip-smacking food. This age-old tradition of organizing a Dussehra fair that runs for almost 25 days was started by Maharaj Durjanshal Singh Hada in 1723 AD.
- Things to do: On the final day of Vijayadashami, watch huge effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhakarna burn down in order to commemorate the victory of Lord Ram over the demon king. Attend the many mushairas, kavi sammelans, and mustache competitions that follow the whole spectacle!
- Places to eat: Head to Amar Punjabi, Soul at Hotel Lilac, Jodhpur Restaurant, Maheshwari Restaurant, and Eatos for delightful food.
15. Maharashtra Dussehra
In the state of Maharashtra, people celebrate Dussehra by visiting their friends and relatives, greeting each other, and exchanging gifts. They even exchange the leaves of Aapta tree, that are symbolic of gold to them and bring prosperity.
Maharashtrians prepare special delicacies on this day as the festival marks the arrival of the winter season. They also find it auspicious enough to embark on new ventures, buy new houses, vehicles, and gadgets.
- Things to do: Watch the effigies of Ravana burn down in the evening to celebrate the victory of Rama over the Lanka king Ravana.
- Places to eat: Head to JW Cafe or Kebabs & Kurries in Mumbai, Chingari or Bene in Pune, and Seasonal Tastes or Kangan in Pune for some nice dining options.
These are some of the unique ways of Dussehra celebration in different states across the country. Of course, there are many more states, many more cities, and many more colorful ways! If you want to share your stories as to how you celebrate this grand festival differently, do let us know in the comment section!