Dussehra, also called Vijayadashmi (or Bijoya in Bengal), is the culmination of the nine-day Navaratri celebrations. It is a festival that makes the killing of Ravana, his son Meghanatha, and brother Kumbhakarna, by ama. It is seen as the victory of good over evil.
The epic Ramayana describes the story of Rama. Rama was the exiled prince of the kingdom of Ayodhya. While in exile, he lived in the forest with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. One day Sita was abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Rama, assisted by an army of monkeys and Lakshmana, attacked Lanka to rescue her. A fierce battle ensued between the two armies for many days. Rama found it very difficult to beat the mighty Ravana. So he prayed for nine days to nine different aspects of goddess Durga and accumulated enough strength to defeat Ravana.
Dussehra celebrates Rama’s victory over Ravana in a festival spread out over ten days. The story of Rama’s life is enacted in a folk art form called Ramlila. Every nook and corner has its own Ramlila, with millions of actors enacting it during Dussehra. Conventionally, only men participated in the Ramlila, but now women, too, have started acting in them.
The 10th day is one of fireworks. The final act of this drama is staged. Huge paper effigies stuffed with firecrackers, sometimes almost 100 feet high, of Ravana, his son, and brother, are set ablaze. At the appointed hour, a person dressed as Rama shoots flaming arrows at the effigies, which start to burn.