While in Varanasi, the festival of Durga was taking place. That's why our tour company didn't put us in one of the fancy hotels we've been staying in as they were all booked. (Lucky break for us, because none of them were right on a ghat). We saw many carts with statues of Durga, the goddess who embodies creative feminine force, in glittering dress being pulled along the streets by man, beast and motors. There was much chanting and loud music drifting in the air that we could hear day and night from our hotels.
We went to see the celebrations on the final night of Dussehra in Jaipur. We gathered in a large open area with hundreds of Indian families out for a fun evening. There were extravagantly lit effigies of Ravanna and his brother at the front of the park, and people selling souvenirs for kids and huge poppadams from baskets on their head. The day celebrates the triumph of good over evil, as Rama kills the ten-headed Ravanna with the help of the monkey god Hanuman. There were many beautiful fireworks set off and then finally the lights went out on the effigies and a blazing arrow set fire to the effigies for the grand finale. It was a great evening and we can now go forward feeling that we have been cleansed of evil.