Millions of Hindus across northern India are celebrating a religious festival that symbolises the triumph of good over evil, with traditional theatre and the burning of giant effigies.
Outside the walls of the Indian capital's imposing Red Fort, plays are performed nightly that re-enact revered Hindu deity Ram's battle to kill the demon king Ravana.
AdvertisementIn the nine days leading up to the Dussehra festival, which falls this year on October 3, hundreds are flocking to catch one of the plays or Ramlila that are based on the epic Ramayana text.
Arjun Kumar, head of a committee that hosts the Ramlila at the 17th-century fort, said the plays were a chance to teach moral lessons of the Hindu faith including to the country's younger generations.
"We are serving the culture which has been given by our elders, to our young generations," Kumar told AFP of the performances, which take place alongside food stalls and rides in a carnival-like atmosphere.
Lead actor Sunny Kumar said Lord Ram was like "an ideal son and an ideal brother with nobody like him".
"After playing his part, I realise that I can't really be like him, I can only try to take on some of his values," he said.
On Friday, towering effigies of Ravana, along with smaller ones of his brother Kumbh Karan and son Meghnath will be set alight to celebrate the success of good over evil.
The effigies, some 15 to 18-metres (50-60 feet) high, will blaze at the Red Fort and in neighbourhoods throughout Delhi and other cities and cities.
"My grandfather used to make these, after him, my father made them and now I do," said Sham Lal, a specialist craftsmen who spends the month leading up to Dussehra constructing the figures from bamboo covered in cloth and paper mache.
"It's our hobby, it's something that's been going on for years and in doing this, we serve Lord Rama," he said.
In eastern India, including in the state of West Bengal, Hindus also celebrate the triumph of good over evil, focusing on goddess Durga's victory over the demon Mahishasura.
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