Yesterday was Dusshera, Dashahara, Dashain (in Nepal) or Vijayadashami here in India and I had very high hopes of making it out to a traditional celebration.
Dusshera is a huge holiday; for some communities it’s a bigger deal than Diwali. People return home to visit family, get haircuts, buy new appliances and, most importantly, they build giant 3-story sculptures out of straw, paper mache and fireworks and then set them ablaze at sunset. It’s an event beloved both by Hindus and anyone in India who enjoys a good bonfire–namely, everyone.
Having never seen a real live effigy burning, I asked everyone from our housekeeper to my favored cellphone top-off vendor what to expect. Huge chaotic crowds, a riot of burning embers, and giant fiery gods and demons falling on top of crowds of celebrating masses, was what they told me. It sounded fantastic. As well as a little bit insane.
Chris promised to take Will for the night so I could go out to take photos with one of our friends here, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I packed my camera bag even as our friend had to bail and my stomach continued to flip flop from the effects of that bleach-less salad from the other night. And then I felt my poor husband’s forehead. Just a touch under the weather, but enough to make me drop my bags and stay home.
That’s life sometimes. It’s the holiday season here now in Delhi, there will be many more celebrations to witness.
Instead of taking photos of blazing multi-story gods and demons, we wandered over to Khan market yesterday afternoon to check out a few of the effigies before the burning. Though not the most exciting or perhaps truly authentic place to experience the build-up to Dusshera, it was still
terrifying stunning to see exactly how huge even these so-called “touristy” effigies were before being set ablaze.
I checked out a few Indian newspapers this morning because it still boggles my mind that these towers of straw and paper-mache burn so close to so many buildings and people without incident, but no mention of injuries or causalities. Or perhaps its sort of like the 4th of July in the US and it takes a pretty spectacular misfire for anyone to make the national news. In any case, I found a few good photos.
I was not on my photog-ing game yesterday, but if nothing else, hopefully these shots convey just how darn tall these effigies (not even anywhere near the biggest in town!) truly were.