Dussehra is a ten-day long Hindu festival that is celebrated at the end of Navratri every year. This year Dussehra will be celebrated on Saturday, September 30, 2017. Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of the Hindu month of Ashvin which usually corresponds to September or October in the popular Gregorian calendar. Dussehra is one of the major festivals of India and is celebrated throughout the length and breadth of the country. Dussehra or Dusshera is celebrated to mark Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana that signifies the triumph of good over evil. On Dussehra, huge effigies of Ravana are burnt with fireworks which symbolize the quelling of darkness by light. Dussehra also paves the way for the next big festival of Diwali (the festival of lights) which is celebrated across India with great pomp and fervour. Diwali is celebrated twenty days after Dussehra and signifies the return of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman to Ayodhya after killing the demon Ravana. Also Read - Chaitra Navratri 2021 Date: Know Dates, Days And Other Significant Details
The word ‘Dussehra’ signifies the meaning of the festival itself. The word is formed from two words – Dus and Ahara. ‘Dus’ means ten and ‘Ahara’ means day, so tenth day. Another meaning comes from the mythology of the festival where ‘Dus’ signifies the ten heads of Ravana or bad or evil and ‘hara’ means to defeat or removal. In the northern and western states of India Dussehra is celebrated in the honour of Lord Rama who was an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Plays based on Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas called Ramlila are performed at outdoor fairs by theatre troupes. Dussehra is also celebrated as Vijayadashami and also signifies the killing of demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga on the tenth day of Navratri. Durga Puja: Ever Wondered Why Bengalis Eat Non-Veg Food During Navratri? Also Read - Recreating 'Treta Yug': 89 Ramayana Era Trees to be Planted in Grand Temple Complex at Ayodhya's Ram Janmabhoomi
Story behind the festival Dussehra related to Lord Rama
According to Hindu mythology, Ravana was a demon king of Lanka, a territory to the south of India who desired Lord Rama’s wife Sita. Ravana kidnapped Sita and took her to his kingdom Lanka where he held her captive. Lord Rama traveled to Lanka with an army of monkeys and with the support of his brother Lakshman and Lord Hanuman he killed Ravana on the tenth day of the battle. The first nine days are celebrated as Navratri and the tenth day when Ravana is killed Dussehra is celebrated. The Navratri festival is concluded by burning huge and gigantic effigies of the demon Ravana. The killing of Ravana signifies the triumph of good over evil. Also Read - 'Should Have Done My Research': Cardi B Apologises After Receiving Backlash For 'Goddess Durga' Look
Story behind the festival Vijayadashmi related to Goddess Durga
In another mythology which is prevalent in the eastern and northern states of India, Goddess Durga kills the demon Mahishasura to bring peace to Earth. The festival of Navratri is celebrated because here also the battle between the Goddess and the demon spans ten days. On the tenth day, the Goddess Durga kills Mahishasura and the day are celebrated as Vijayadashmi meaning the ‘victory that was attained on the tenth day’. Each of the preceding nine days of Vijayadashami is dedicated to a specific powerful manifestation of Goddess Durga and people in Northern and Western parts of the region fast while worshipping the nine forms of the Goddess. The eastern and north-eastern parts of India do not fast during Durga Puja as it is a celebratory time for them and they enjoy the festival with much pomp and fervour. Goddess Durga is worshipped for five days in eastern and northeastern parts of the country and on the tenth day, the idol is immersed in water bodies marking the end of festivities.
Dussehra or Vijayadashami or even Bijoya (as Bengalis call it) is one of the most popular and fervently celebrated festivals in India. People play dandiya and garba during the nine days of Navratri while praying to the Goddess. Dussehra and Vijayadashami both celebrate the win of good over evil and signify the man’s need to overcome fear, greed and negative thinking and move towards positive thoughts and deeds.