It was a sea of humanity as thousands of people, including domestic and foreign tourists, thronged the hill station of Kullu to celebrate Dusshera.
The famed Kullu Dussera started with the 'Utsav' (procession) of Lord Raghunath (Rama), the main deity of Kullu from the Raghunath Temple, where the idol will be placed on a wooden throne for a week.
Kullu's erstwhile royal Pal dynasty, dressed in their fineries, led the religious chores during the festival marked by traditional dances and huge Utsavs.
Scion of the erstwhile Kullu state, Raja Maheshwar Singh, said the festival has just begun.
"We believe that today Lord Rama conquered Lanka after a battle spanning several days and demon god Ravana breathed his last on this day of Poornima or full moon day, which is called 'Lankadahan'. It is the first day of the month long festival," said Maheshwar Singh.
The history of Kullu Dussera dates back to the seventeenth century when the local king Jaganand installed an idol of Raghunath (Lord Rama) on his throne as a mark of penance, after which Raghunath came to be known as the ruling deity of the valley.
During the festival, idols of the various Gods and Goddesses of the valley are brought from respective temples in colourful Utsavs.
Meanwhile, in Ajmer, Rajasthan, children made an effigy of Ravana, symbolising the current political scenario of the country involving graft, scams and inflation.
"This time our colony's children have made the effigy of Ravana which is symbolic of the current political scenario of the country involving graft, scams, inflation, personalities like Robert Vadra and Salman Khurshid. Though Ravana's effigy is burnt each year but a lot of developments have taken place over the past few years. Children have also become aware of the country's burning issues when they sit with us before the television. Hence this is the significance of this Ravana," said Rakesh, a local resident.
In Ludhiana, Punjab, people staged protests against government induced graft.
The festival, which symbolises the triumph of good over evil, is marked by prayers, processions and musical programmes based on the epic Ramayana.
Legend has it that Rama's consort Sita was abducted by king Ravana of Lanka.
Consequently, Rama fought against Ravana and defeated him to release his wife from captivity. Rama's victory over Ravana is described as the triumph of good over evil.
The week-long Kullu Dussera festival ends with the sacrifice of a buffalo, a rooster, a lamb, a fish and a crab.
Simultaneously, a huge pile of grass is set on fire symbolising the burning of Lanka, the kingdom of demon king Ravana. (ANI)