India is known for its culture and many festivals. Although the country celebrates different types of festivals throughout the year, the period between September and January is the time when you will see this beautiful land at its vibrant best. Dussehra or Dasara is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated during this period in India. Also known as Vijayadashmi, Dussehra is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the month Ashvin, as per Hindu calendar. This year Dussehra falls on October 11. Also Read - KIH vs HAE Dream11 Team Players Prediction Korean Baseball League 2020: Captain, And Fantasy Baseball Tips For Today's Kiwoom Heroes vs Hanwha Eagles Match in South Korea 3 PM IST June 4 Thursday

Ravana

Photograph Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons



The word ‘Dussehra’ is derived from ‘dasha’ and ‘hara’, two Sanskrit words that mean defeating the ten. The festival also marks the end of nine-day long Navratri festival, during which the nine forms of goddess Durga are worshipped. Navratri celebration culminates with Dussehra on the tenth day, when the idol of goddess Durga is immersed in a river or a lake. The festival is not just celebrated in India, but also in Nepal, Sumatra and Java. Also Read - Lockdown Impact: Atlas Cycles Announces Temporary Shutdown After Facing Losses, Over 700 Employees Jobless

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Significance and importance of Dussehra

Dussehra is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal across the country. It is celebrated in different ways by the people of the different regions. There are several stories associated with Dussehra. According to Hindu epic Ramayan, this is the day when Ram, who is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, killed Ravan, the ten-headed demon king. Ravan had abducted Sita, Ram’s wife, and took her to his kingdom Lanka. Ram along with the monkey god Hanuman, his brother Laxman and an army attacked Lanka to rescue Sita. On the day of Ashvin Shukla Dashami Ram killed Ravan and rescued Sita. This day is now called Vijayadashmi, which means victory on the tenth day. They returned to Ayodhya 20 days after Viajaydashmi. The people of Ayodhya, to welcome home their beloved prince, lit millions of lamp and this day is now celebrated as Diwali in India.

Ravan

Photograph courtesy: Elroy Serrao/Creative Commons

Dussehra is also associated with goddess Durga. It is the day when goddess Durga killed Mahishasur, a demon, after a fierce fight.  According to mythology, Mahishasur was growing in power and defeating the gods. The gods asked the trinity of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma to help them. The three gods merged their power and created Durga. All the gods gave their weapons to the goddess to fight the demon. She led a battle against Mahishasur and it lasted for nine days and nine nights. Durga slayed Mahishasur on the tenth day. During the festival of Navratri, different manifestations of goddess Durga are worshipped. The tenth day is dedicated to Durga. During the festival of Navratri, the feminine power is worshipped and celebrated.

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There is another interesting story behind Dussehra celebration. According to legends, the Pandavas, the five sons of Pandu, were exiled for 12 years after losing a game of dice. During their exile period, they had to conceal their identity. So before entering the kingdom of Virat, they hid their weapons in a Shami tree. They completed their final year of exile and on Vijaydashmi, they disclosed their true identity and recovered their weapons from the tree. Today, on the day of Vijayadashmi, both weapons/tools and Shami trees are worshipped. The leaves of Shami tree are exchanged as a symbol of goodwill.

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There is another story associated with Dussehra. According to legends, Kautsa, the son of a Brahmin, studied under the guidance of Rishi Varatantu. After his education, he insisted on giving a present to his teacher. Rishi Varatantu refused to take dakshina from his student as he believed that it is inappropriate to give dakshina for wisdom.  However, Kautsa did not agree and insisted on giving dakshina. Varatantu asked 140 million gold coins for his knowledge. Kautsa asked King Raghu to help him as he didn’t have that much money. King Raghu was known for his generosity and he promised to help Kautsa. King Raghu asked Indra to help him and Indra turned to Kubera, the god of wealth, for help. Kubera made gold coins rain from Aapati and Shanu trees in King Raghu’s city, Ayodhya, on the day of Vijayadashmi. The gold coins started raining. The coins were given to Kautsa and he offered it his guru Varatantu. As Varatantu had asked for only 140 million gold coins, he gave back the remaining coins to Kautsa. Kautsa went to the King to return the coins but he refused to take it back as it was a gift. So, Kautsa distributed the remaining gold coins among the people of Ayodhya.

Celebration of Dussehra

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Dussehra is celebrated in different ways across the country. In North India, colourful fairs are organised and Ramleela, plays based on the story of Ramayan, are performed. Stories from the Hindu epic Ramayana are enacted at different regions of the country. On the day of Vijaydashmi, huge effigies of Ravan, Meghnad and Kumbhakarn are set on fire. The effigies are usually filled with firecrackers. Burning of these effigies symbolises the victory of good over evil. People also take part in processions on this day. Mysore in Karnataka is one of the best places to see Dussehra celebration. Here, on the day of Dussehra, goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped. The highlight of the celebration is the grand procession, which includes decorated elephants. The Mysore Palace is lit up with thousands of lights on this day. Kullu in Himachal Pradesh is another place famous for its Dussehra celebration. In Kullu, Dussehra begins on Vijaydashmi and continues for seven days. The idol of goddess Hadimba and the idol of Raghunath are taken to a ground in Dhalpur is a grand procession.

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In Odisha and West Bengal, goddess Durga is worshipped and on the day of Vijaydashmi, the idol of the goddess is immersed in a river or a lake. One of the highlights of the festival or Durga Puja is the ritual of Sindoor Khela, in which married women apply on each other and on the idol of the goddess. In Odisha, the idol of the goddess is taken out in a procession before immersing it in a nearby lake or river. After the immersion, effigies of Ravan are set ablaze.

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In Maharashtra, people start a new business or buy a new home on Dussehra, as the day is considered auspicious. Bidi leaf, which symbolises gold, is exchanged by people. In Kerala, this is the day when children are introduced to formal education. In Tamil Nadu, people arrange dolls of goddesses and gods in their home and it is called Bommai Kolu or Golu. Dussehra is also celebrated in other countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.

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