In India, all religions enjoy full equality and followers
of each faith celebrate their festivals with traditional
gaiety. Many of Hindu holidays are linked with the
harvest. For the people, whose mainstay has been
agriculture, every change of season is celebrated in song
and dance. Others are in honor of mythological deities or
are entirely religious involving fasts and prayers.
Dussehra, which usually falls in October, could be seen at
its best in Delhi, Kulu Valley and Mysore. This famous
festival celebrates the victory of good over evil as
depicted in the epic Ramayana, where the godly Rama, the
hero, rescues his wife, Sita, from the demon Ravana, by
killing him and defeating his army. In Delhi, the nine-day
celebrations during which scenes from the story are
enacted daily, are climaxed by the burning of giant
effigies of demons, made of bamboo and papier mache and
stuffed with crackers.
In Kulu, people celebrate Dussehra as an Autumn festival.
A great fair is held to which the gods from all over the
valley are brought in gaily decorated palanquins. In
Mysore city, which has been the traditional seat of
ancient ruling dynasty, Dussehra is ten-day festival.
Public buildings are illuminated.
Diwali, following soon after Dussehra is one of the most
enchanting expression of popular rejoicing. People outline
their houses, gardens and gates with little earthen lamps
or candles and whole cities are transformed into fairyland
of lights. Diwali is also the time for family reunions.
Sweets and greetings are exchanged and the night sky is
alight with fireworks.
To the many festivals, ancient and traditional, has been
added a modern one, Republic Day on January 26. Its
celebrations are particularly spectacular in New Delhi. A
magnificent parade is held in which President of India
takes the salute.
After the armed forces march past the saluting base, come
many decorated floats contributed by the different States
of India and folk dancers drawn from the far-flung regions
of the country. The festivity is marked by illuminations
of public buildings, folk dance ensembles and gathering of
poets and composers.
It comes to an end three days later with spectacular
Beating Retreat, in which massed bands of the three forced