Nation celebrates Dussehra with religious fervour, gaiety

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New Delhi, Oct 9 (UNI) Mammoth effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnath and brother Kumbhkarana crackled and went up in flames at dusk, commemorating the triumph of good over evil and slaying of the ten-headed demon king by the deity Rama, as the Hindu festival of Dussehra was celebrated with customary colour and fervour across the country today.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were among a host of luminaries from the world of politics present at a largely attended function at Ramlila Maidan in the national capital where the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarana and Meghnad were burnt.

Others present at the Ramlila grounds to witness the effigies of the trio go up in flames were Priyanka Vadra, Delhi Pradesh Congress committee president Jai Prakash Agarwal.

This year the Dussehra festivities have been somwewhat subdued due to the stringent security put in force by the police in view of the September 13 serial blasts in the city.

Vijay Dashmi was celebrated under an unprecedented security cover in the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir. People from all walks of life, including followers of all religions exchanged greetings on the occasion with Hindu friends and relatives.

In West Bengal, Durga Puja celebrations reached its temporal termination, witnessing whole-hearted participation of people, as 'Bijoya Dashami' (Viyayadashmi) marks the Goddess' return to the abode of Lord Shiva.

The ceremonial immersion of the idols of Devi Durga begins at sundown in the Ganges, striking a melancholy note in the milieu bearing the hallmark of festivities.

During the past four days, countless people, clad in new clothes, hopped in the Pandals in various parts of the city and its outskirts.

In Bihar,''Ravanwadh'' was organised this evening at the historical Gandhi Maidan, where thousands of people assembled to enjoy the glimpses of the event marking the culmination of the nine-day-long festival.

Since morning, women were seen queuing up in front of the idols in Puja Pandals for the traditional ''Sindoor Khela'' (Smearing the goddess with vermilion).

The last day of the Durga Puja in Tripura lost its festive spirit following heavy showers and bad weather since last night while the weatherman predicted more rains in the next 24 hours.

The week-long Durga Puja celebration concluded in Meghalaya with the immersion of idols in the Umkhrah and Ganol river.

More than 100 idols of Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, and Ganesha and Kartick were taken in a procession through the streets before being immersed in the river.

People in Maharashtra celebrated Dussehra with traditional fervour. People made a beeline to temples elsewhere in the state, including the Mahalaxmi temple in Kolhapur and Aurangabad, where a huge procession was taken out by Maa Durga ''Bakhts''.

In Goa, a beeline of devotees was witnessed at various temples and pandals since morning. People attired in new clothes were seen distributing sweets and Shami leaves, a symbol of gold, in a gesture of exchanging prosperity.

In Andhra Pradesh, people celebrated Dasara with traditional pomp and ceremony, bringing down the curtains on the nine-day-long ''Navratri''. Decorated with colourful lights, the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad wore a festive look.

The ten-day world famous Dasara festivities, known for grandeur culminated with an impressive ''elephant procession'' watched by lakhs of people in Karnataka.

Bringing the curtains down on the ten-day event was ''Naada habba'', the Vijyadasami procession, symbolising the triumph of good over evil.

A tight security cover was thrown to check any untoward incident across the country during the festival with the deployment of police personnel in a large number.

UNI TEAM KK RL AS1906

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