The festival of Dussehra celebrates the Hindu god Rama's victory over the 10-headed demon king Ravana and the triumph of good over evil. According to the Hindu calendar, the day is commemorated on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin and marks the end of Navratri or nine nights. Each of the preceding nine days represents a powerful manifestation of Durga, the goddess of power.

Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is one of the most important Hindu festivals and celebrated in various forms, across India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal (where it is known as Dashain). Many people of the Hindu faith observe Dussehra through special prayer meetings and food offerings to the gods at home or in temples throughout India. They also hold outdoor fairs and large parades with effigies of Ravana that are burnt on bonfires in the evening.

IBTimesUK presents a gallery of celebrations held during the nine-day Navratri festival, leading up to Dussehra.

Durga Puja
People dressed as Hindu deities prepare for a performance at a fair in New Delhi, IndiaChandan Khanna/AFP
Durga Puja
A girl carries a basket of flowers in Hyderabad, IndiaNoah Seelam/AFP
Durga Puja
Devotees perform Garba, a traditional folk dance, during the celebrations at Surat in the western state of Gujarat, IndiaAmit Dave/Reuters
Durga Puja
Devotees perform Garba, a traditional folk dance, during the celebrations at Surat in the western state of Gujarat, IndiaAmit Dave/Reuters
Durga Puja
Hindu devotees hold earthen lamps and torches at Surat in the state of Gujarat, western IndiaAmit Dave/Reuters
Durga Puja
A man works on a pandal or a temporary platform, in Kolkata, IndiaRupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Durga Puja
People visit a pandal or temporary platform during the festival in Kolkata, IndiaRupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Durga Puja
Nilanjana Chakraborty (five), dressed as a living goddess known as a Kumari, takes part in a ritual at Ramakrishna Mission in Agartala, the capital of north-eastern Indian state of TripuraArindam Dey/AFP
Durga Puja
Fire breathers dance at the Rajpath Club in Ahmedabad, IndiaSam Panthaky/AFP
Durga Puja
A devotee offers oil lamps on top of his body as part of a ritual in Bhaktapur, NepalNavesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Durga Puja
A man plays on a traditional swing in Kathmandu, NepalNavesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Durga Puja
Nepalese children play on a swing in Lalitpur, on the outskirts of KathmanduPrakash Mathema/AFP
Durga Puja
A boy flies a kite during the festival in Kathmandu, NepalNavesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Durga Puja
A goat is weighed at a livestock market in Kathmandu, NepalNavesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Durga Puja
Devotees splash water on a buffalo before it is sacrificed in Bhaktapur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, NepalPrakash Mathema/AFP
Durga Puja
People watch as a buffalo is prepared to be sacrificed at a festival in Bhaktapur, NepalPrakash Mathema/AFP
Durga Puja
Hindu devotees tear meat from the sacrificed buffalo carcass in Bhaktapur, NepalNavesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Durga Puja
Priests covered in bloodstains carry offerings as they perform rituals in Bhaktapur, NepalNavesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Durga Puja
A devotee offers prayers at a temple in Dhaka, BangladeshMunir uz Zaman/AFP