Giant effigies of 10-headed demon king Ravana was burnt on the Red Fort lawns here on the occasion of Dussehra today, marking the triumph of good over evil, as the theme to defeat terrorism and recent surgical strikes by the Indian Army across LoC dominated the celebrations.
The Shri Dharmic Leela Committee’s Ram Lila event was attended by President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar among others.
This year Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not attend the event here as he participated in Dussehra celebrations in Lucknow in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Conveying his wishes, the President said that celebrations bind the communities and regions of India in a true sense of brotherhood and “should motivate us to make renewed efforts for the unity and progress of our country”.
Mukherjee said he too returned from Birbhum, West Bengal after celebrating Durga Puja there.
The dignitaries also performed ‘aarti’ before the artistes dressed as Ram and Lakshman, a yearly ritual. As a mark of peace, they also released white pigeons in the air.
Several posters saluting the army’s valour after the surgical strikes were seen at the event.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, at a nearby Ramlila celebrations, wished people on the occasion of Dussehra.
“If we can work together, we can definitely achieve our goals,” Kejriwal said, adding that “we will face the evils in society together”.
Scores of people had gathered at the Red Fort to witness the ‘Ravana Dahan’.
Today’s burning of Ravana’s effigies marks the end of Navratra and the beginning of 20-day-long wait for Diwali, festival of lights, to celebrate the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after killing the demon king.
Dressed in their festive best, people attended Ramlilas across the city where artistes enacted the final battle episode of Ramayana where Lord Ram kills Ravana and brings back his wife Sita to Ayodhya on ‘Vijaydashmi’.
The effigies were set ablaze amid chants in praise of Lord Ram, people witnessed spectacular fireworks which illuminated the sky leaving many in awe.
Elaborate security arrangements were made to ensure that the festivities go without any untoward incident. Police kept a tight vigil in the city, a senior official said.