Dussehra or Dasara is also known as Vijayadashami is a popular festival in India. It is on the 10th day of Ashwin month in the Hindu calendar and the day, in particular, represents the triumph of good over evil. Dussehra is a combination of Sanskrit terms “Dasha”- ten and “Hara”- a defeat which means Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, the ten-headed king. It is a favorable time to conduct auspicious events, ceremonies, buy a new vehicle/house, and offer worship to Goddess Durga, Lord Rama, and Lord Hanuman.
Importance of Dussehra
Vijayadashami or Dussehra shows the power of good over negative energies. It celebrates the defeat of evil and the victory of positive forces. Be it Goddess Durga or Lord Rama, the triumph of good hails. These remarkable victories tell us how we should not give up and keep fighting against the bad. There is so much to learn from the significance of this day. It is celebrated with great pomp and joy all over the world by followers of the Hindu religion. The light always prevails over darkness just as Goddess Durga won over Mahishasura after the battle. Dussehra is a day to revere our deities, pass on the cultural rituals & principles to future generations and preserve the values.
Why is Dussehra celebrated? Story of Dasara/ Dussehra
There are different stories about Dussehra like Goddess Durga defeating Mahishasura and Lord Rama’s win over Ravana. Both the stories have the same message and show how the good emerged stronger and gained victory over the evil. Mahishasura, the demon performed strict penance over the years to gain the boon of immortality but Lord Brahma denied it. Upon this, Mahishasura asked for a boon that he can only be killed by a woman. After receiving this boon, the demon thought that no powerful woman existed who could destroy him. He started troubling the three worlds and threatened the Gods as well. None of the Gods could control him and that is when Goddess Durga appeared.
She fought a battle for 15 continuous days. The demon kept on changing his forms and confusing the Goddess. It is believed that She slew the demon with Her trident on the 10th day which is Vijayadashami. This day celebrates Her brilliant victory and reveres the Divine power- Durga.
Another famous story of Dussehra glorifies Lord Rama and it is celebrated with great fervor. The legend of Ramayana states that Ravana had become invincible after receiving a boon. During the 14 years of exile of Lord Rama, Ravana abducted Sita, Lord Rama’s wife. He took her to Lanka which was his kingdom. While rescuing Sita, Lord Rama battled Ravana and killed him. This miraculous moment happened on Vijayadashami and that is why it came to be known as “Dussehra”- the defeat of ten-headed King Ravana.
A lesser-known story of Dussehra is related to Mahabharata. Arjuna, one of the five Pandavas used the Sammohan Astra and had put the Kaurava group to sleep on Dashami. He did this all by himself and since he is known by another name Vijaya, this day was called Vijaya Dashami.
How is Dussehra celebrated?
Large statues of Ravana are made and installed in different places in the Northern states of India. Ram Leela is a special attraction and performed in different areas of the cities like Delhi, Kanpur, etc. A group of actors enacts and performs the epic story of Ramayana in Ram Leela which is done for entertaining the local people. The larger-than-life statues of Ravana are burnt signifying the burning of evil and negativity around. It is an enjoyable time to experience the grandeur of this ceremony, sparkling firecrackers, and more for both kids and adults.
In Maharashtra, people worship a bunch of Apta leaves that are considered to be gold. They exchange this leaf with each other and wish a Happy Dussehra. This is an age-old tradition where the folks dress up in new traditional clothes and visit every house in the neighborhood to give Dussehra wishes. Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Laxmi, and Goddess Durga are worshipped in South India on Dussehra.
May you receive wealth, health, and prosperity in abundance this Vijayadashami! A very Happy Dussehra to you and your family!