Festival season in India starts with a bang. Literally.
For me the first big festival of the season is Dussehra, which celebrates the victory of good over evil, darkness over light. Huge effigies – and I’m talking 50 feet here readers, are filled with firecrackers and fireworks and set fire to by the shot of a single burning arrow as night falls.
The effigies themselves are fantastic works of folk art made by the Banjaran gypsies, who set up camp at the side of the road. The first year we arrived we were quite overcome by their charm and kept ours in the house as art. Finally a friend told us it was a bit like keeping your old Christmas tree in the living room all year. Oh Dear!
They represent the demon king Ravana, who stole Lord Ramas wife, before being slayed by him. I’m not sure what happened to his wife, but I like to think she got home safely for a cup of tea before the fireworks started.
And what fireworks indeed. The crowds scream and roar as fireworks shoot out in all directions before the effigies explode into flames . Its best to wear a hat and have your running shoes on.
Eat your heart out Burning Man!