Dhashera- Celebration of Good
Sudharam told me of this festival that is celebrated in his small town. The Dhashera festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. To celebrate an enormous forty foot edifice is constructed and filled with firecrackers. The entire town contributes to this process. On the night of Dhashera the whole town gathers in the square and man with a bow shoots a flaming arrow at the edifice creating an emormous explosion of lights and flame. The crowd is of course a good distance away as to not get hurt but everyone is there reveling in the wonder of the lights.
The festival is celebrated typically in the first week of October. The festival is based on the Ramanayna, the Holy Book of Hindu. There is a tale about a man with ten faces who is very powerful and wreaks havoc amongst the countryside. There is a very poor man who is very just and righteous that lives in the forest and has a beautiful wife. The powerful man with ten faces comes and steals the wife and takes her back to his kingdom and rapes her. The virtuous man travels to the kingdom of the man with ten faces and defeats him. Therefore, the people celebrate the defeat of the evil man. Sudharam described the celebration itself as very festive as the entire town gathered.
I feel this is a very joyful event that emphasizes the social attitude of the village. They come together to build the edifice of fireworks and then gather again to see it lit off. It seems the main purpose of the celebration is to create a sense of unity amongst the town and create a good environment for socializing.