The city on Wednesday celebrated Dussehra, which marks the culmination of the nine-day Navratri festival, in varied facets such as the traditional burning of Ravan's effigy and Dhamma Pravartan day. Also known as Vijayadashami, the day saw the Bengali community bidding adieu to Maa Durga while the Buddhist community remembered how King Ashoka pledged for non-violence on this day centuries ago.
“Vijaydashami is the day of rejoicing. On Navami, the war ends. Mother Goddess defeated and killed the demon. It's the day of celebrating victory over evil. In Bengal, since we also observe this period of Mother's homecoming with her children from Kailash, there are a few celebrations we have before she departs,” said Bombay Durga Bari Samiti president Susmita Mitra.
By afternoon, most mandaps did the final puja after which the Mother leaves the idol that can then be taken for immersion. “We have sindoor khela and a little bit of revelry among women before the final immersion,” said Mitra.
The Buddhist community observed the day as Ashoka Vijayadashami. “Looking at death and destruction after the Kalinga war, Samrat Ashoka converted to Buddhism on this day. Babasaheb Ambedkar also converted to Buddhism on this day. Both are responsible for spreading Buddhism across the world. On this day, people visit Buddha Vihar and the monks address them,” said Buddhist and senior journalist Yuvraj Mohite.
After the sunset, huge crowds thronged the Chowpatty to see the burning of Ravana effigies. Many had come with their children in arms. “I think it's essential to get children to show this because it has been part of our lives for thousands of years. They should know what it is as it also teaches them about the victory of good over evil,” said Karan Shah who had his three-year-old son over his shoulder for a better view of the fiery event.
Dressed in dhoti and toying with a bow and arrow, four-year-old Ruansh Shah had come to see his hero Lord Ram's victory over Ravan. “I think it is a good way to inculcate in them the sense of good and bad. Children should be aware of our rich Indian culture. That is why I got him. Besides, he is interested in Lord Ram because he carries bow and arrow with him," said Ruansh's mother.