Happy Dussehra! ( Yup that’s a Wikipedia link for details on what the festival is about. ) Here are some photographs from the effigy-burning garden-party in the residential society where I live.

Till today late afternoon, I wasn’t even aware it is Dussehra today. Till I saw some updates on Twitter and spoke with my folks on the phone. The boy is sailing and I’ve been spending way too much time moping around in the house. I knew the residential society does this kind of stuff especially during the Indian Festive season so I had my eyes peeled for updates on the Notice Board.

Luckily they started late so I had enough time to get a quick shower, get into decent clothes ( just a t-shirt and jeans ) and run downstairs with my camera. I figured if I went, I would get a handful of photographs, would spend some time editing them, and publishing them on the blog and just like that it would be night and I won’t have any more time to mope today.

Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India

Of course I was in no mood to get into a conversation with anyone so the ear phones were jammed deep into my ears and the Guardians Of The Galaxy OST was playing on full volume. ( Yes baby, I am STILL listening to this. For the thousandth time and I am not done yet. ) I stood around waiting for something to happen. There was loud music blaring on the speakerphone – the song was about Dussehra and how good wins over evil and I was wondering how ironic it would be if someone got pick pocketed or butt-pinched in the melee.

Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India

The effigy had been tied with thin rope to the adjoining trees in the park and I found a spot to stand at where I could get photos unobstructed. Also I’d located an exit point right behind me in case the fire got intense and I had to get away. Below you can see a string of lights, which was being used to signify the absolute last line beyond which it was unwise to be a spectator since the effigy also had fireworks strapped to it. Since the string of lights is easy to trample upon, there were several children who we standing beyond¬†the boundary rather than outside it. That is until the organizers announced that the fire-fest would not begin till the circle was cleared. Everyone instantly fled. Luckily everyone really did want to see the effigy burn and I didn’t have to stand around longer.

Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India

The Residential Welfare Association head ( don’t ask me how I know that ) then proceeded to light the fire under the effigy’s ass but not before the loudspeaker EmCee had screamed a loud, “Raam Chandra ki Jai!” and waited patiently for the crowd to repeat after him. I was expecting pin-drop silence but clearly the people in my society still believe in things like good winning over evil. There was a loud roar with people screaming the chant and the fire was thus lit.

Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India

In retrospect I believe everyone standing and watching was in harms way and there really were no exit strategies or safety measures. I could feel the intense heat from the effigy right in front of me and several fire-works burst loudly sending mini-shockwaves into the spectators. Everyone fled. I was too busy trying to get a good shot to notice and I recall a fleeting thought that if I ever considered war photography, I would get shot pretty quickly. Debris was flying everywhere and by the time I was done getting photos, I looked around and the only other people as close as I was to the effigy were the security guards.

Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India

The burning effigy tanked in one direction and the head separated and fell to the grass creating even more sparks and debris in every direction. I looked up and the sky was filled with bits of burning paper and fire-flakes. Of course I still smell of smoke as I sit and type this. It’s a nice wood-smoke smell though, not acrid or stinging like it is going to be when people lose their shit over fireworks during the upcoming Diwali celebrations. That stuff is foul.

Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India Naina.co-Photographer-Raconteuse-Storyteller-Luxury-Lifestyle-October-2014-Dussehra-Effigy-Raavana-Festive-India

By the end of it, it was just the cleaners and security guards who were left on the scene, along with a still-burning effigy and a few smoking embers scattered about. I can’t imagine what must have happened to all the beautiful green grass right where the effigy fell. 90% of the crowd dispersed within seconds. I took a walk around the society’s periphery before I decided I needed to get back to my desk and edit this stuff. I’ve never posted about Dussehra earlier – in all my ten years of blogging. Always a first time.

Work smart and be nice. You’ll be good. And evil won’t stand a chance. Mostly.

Happy Dussehra!