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                                                        Dussehra : A Celebration of Good Over Evil


Dussehra : The Festival


After nine days of Navratri during which the nine avatars of Ma Durga are worshipped, one of the most awaited Hindu festivals falls on the 10th day of the month of Ashvin. This festival is celebrated as Dussehra or Dasara. The name of the festival comes from two Sanskrit words, Dasha meaning 10 and hara meaning defeat. The festival celebrates the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana, the ruler of Lanka who had abducted his wife. Over the years, it has come to signify the victory of good over evil. 


Celebrations Across India


In West Bengal where Pujo or Durga Puja is celebrated with great fervour, the last day is celebrated as Vijayadashami with the devout offering prayers and exchanging ‘Shubho Vijayadashami’ greetings. The day celebrates the Goddesses’s victory over Mahishasura, the buffalo demon. A similar belief is held in the rest of South India. The Mysuru Dussehra in Karnataka is led by the Royal Family of Mysuru. The royal family performs the special puja on this day. The palace along with other important buildings is lit up and various cultural programmes mark the occasion. 


In most states of North India, the Ram Lila, a folk drama is performed. The Ramlila is such a huge attraction that hundreds throng the event and cheer when the effigy of the demon king is burnt. The fireworks that light up the sky are a sight to watch. 


In western India and particularly in Maharashtra, Dussehra is celebrated by offering Sonpatta to each other which is symbolic of exchanging gold. Also, the Shammi tree and weapons are worshipped on this day. Paying respects to the Shammi tree brings in peace and happiness in the family. 


In Gujarat, the Navratri is ever so popular. With nine nights of revelry and gorgeous food throughout the festivities, the start of Dussehra morning is no exception. The Gujaratis have the traditional Jalebi-Fafda for breakfast. Do you know why they have Jalebi-Fafda on Dussehra? One, it is said the fast should be broken by having a gram flour-based delicacy. Gram is healthy and light too. Jalebi goes well with it and when served with hot milk cures migraines. Also, as per mythology, shashkhuli, the precursor to jalebi was Lord Ram’s favourite sweet, while Hanumanji loved gram. Hence the special combination. 





While each region prepares its special main course items, the sweets are the main highlight.

Let’s take a look at what the rest of the India loves to feast on.


Kesar Pista Phirni


When at mishtan shops, you often see wide earthen bowls with a light coloured creamy preparation. This is the Phirni or ‘kheer’. While in North India, jalebis, gulab jamun, kaju katli are typical favourites, the phirni is a festive preparation made from coarse rice flour. This thick pudding with the light flavour of saffron garnished with dry fruit slivers is visually tempting too. Interestingly, the recipe here uses a sugar-free additive that brings in the same flavour without the worries  of increasing sugar levels.






An extremely popular delicacy among those in the western parts of India, the Basundi is what every dairy and sweet lover will be ready to have at any time. A rather simple dish where the milk is reduced to half, with cardamom and saffron to add flavour. A simple delicacy to go with puris or can be had as it is. When frozen, it can be had as kulfi. This way you can have two different desserts with the same sweet. 




Pal Khova


Across southern India, Pal Khova, a traditional milk-based delicacy is prepared that is cooked for 4-5 hours and generally with jaggery. Interestingly here, the dish is made by curdling and thickening milk. This creamy mixture is sweetened with sugar and then flavoured with cardamom powder. 




Chum Chum


It is indeed amazing that with the simple chenna, amazing recipes like Rasgolla, Ras Malai and Chum Chum are made and each uniquely different. Chum Chum, this spongy mishti (sweet) is usually an oblong-shaped sweet, with flavourful decorations atop the delicious sweet. Usually, the decorations are of sweetened khoya made into visually-tempting designs and shapes. 




Isn’t it amazing that with so much diversity, we have a common thread of food that binds us. 


Wish You All a Joyous and Prosperous Dussehra! 


In 20 days from now, we will be celebrating Deepawali, the Festival of Lights! We can anticipate how grand the festival celebrations will be, considering it is two years after low-key celebrations. 


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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.