Every year in September, a temporary city comes alive to welcome a cosmopolitan, experimental crowd to celebrate the vibrant Burning Man event in Nevada. Miles away in another part of the globe the Hindu community gathers to celebrate the glorious festival of Dussehra. Two rituals at two ends of the world, so similar yet so different – let us explore them more.
How they’re the same:
1. The “Man”
Burning man stands for progress, creativity and goodness of mankind. Dussehra represents the evil being that needs to be burnt down to maintain social harmony.
2. Burning of the Effigy
Both events end with a bonfire for ages…A gigantic, humanoid structure up in flames, burning up the night sky. Visually striking and beautiful in its own way.
3. The Number 10
The 10 guiding principles of Burning Man — Radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy.
The 10 vices Dussehra fights — Loathing, desire, envy, selfishness, dishonesty, obsession, gluttony, rage, passion and pride.
4. Art & Culture
Burning Man — Showcases talent, creativity, innovative sculptures, theme camps, costume parties, art, music, dance, fire plays, exhibitions and performances.
Dussehra — The festivities involve colourful processions, traditional dance, music, fairs, Ramlila or traditional theatrical representation of the Hindu epic Ramayana, fireworks etc.
How they’re different:
1. Radical Self Expression VS. Social Regulation
Burning Man – Encourages spontaneity, radical self expression, creative experiments and finding one’s path.
Dussehra – Celebrates restoration of social order, victory of good over evil, discipline, a well-defined social structure and choosing the right path.
2. Contemporary VS. Traditional
Burning Man — It is about embracing unique individual gifts, innovation, contemporary ideas and cultural evolution.
Dussehra — Revolves around traditional norms, principles, customs, going back to roots and ancient wisdom.
3. Self-Reliance VS. Divine Intervention
Burning Man — One of the central tenets is self-reliance in every sphere, where participants are meant to discover, exercise and rely on their inner resources at all times.
Dussehra — Popularises the idea of divine intervention whenever social order needs to be established.
Social Media Significance:
Burning man is a more organized event managed by a group as well as volunteers whereas Dussehra is a socio-cultural event and hence comparatively scattered, harder to track on social media. Moreover, Burning Man boasts of techies and gizmo loving participants who are active on social media whereas Dussehra enjoys mass participation but its social media buzz is comparatively low. Each has its own fan following but Burning Man bags the trophy when it comes to social media presence.