Don’t stand too close to Ravana on Dussehra

Yesterday was Dussehra, the Hindu holiday celebrating the victory of Rama, seventh avatar of Vishnu and protagonist of the Ramayana, against the ten-headed demon Ravana who had kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita. Neighborhoods around Delhi have street celebrations and burn giant effigies of Ravana and other demons.

Dussehra demon 1

Dussehra demon 2

Dussehra demon 3

Considerations about firework safety are pretty much nonexistent. Little children carelessly set off firecrackers along the pavement. Crowds huddle around a cannon then scuttle away just as fireworks emerge. The MC at our neighborhood event had trouble exercising control over a bunch of young men who interrupted the proceedings by setting off one mortar after another.

As you can probably tell from the abruptly shot video below, we were standing just a little too close to the first demon immolation.

By the fourth one, we had figured out the proper distance for observation.

The celebrations in for C Block of Lajpat Nagar also had a number of musical acts that preceded the show. One dancer in particular made an impression on me. He was Punjabi — the neighborhood of Lajpat Nagar has a sizable Punjabi community — but danced liked a whirling dervish wrapped in neon lights.

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