WISHES FOR A HAPPY DUSSEHRA"
Dussehra or Vijayadashmi is
the most popular of all the Indian
festivals and takes place over 10 days,
beginning on the first day of the Hindu
Month of Ashwin
(September-October). It celebrates
Durga's victory over the buffaloheaded
demon Mahishasura, and in some places it
was once customary to sacrifice a buffalo
on the day. The vibrant festivities
last for ten days, of which nine nights
are spent in worship, 'Navaratri'.
The tenth day is devoted to the worship
of goddess Durga, who occupies a special
position in the Hindu pantheon of gods
and goddesses. She is 'Shakti',
the cosmic energy which animates all
to a Puranic legend attached to
this day, the mighty demon Mahisasura,
vanquished the gods and their
king, Indra, who subsequently
fled, leaving behind their
kingdoms. They then approached
the Holy Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu
and Shiva, who decided
to destroy the megalomaniac
demon, and thus prayed to the
divine mother Durga to do the
Equipped with lethal
weapons, riding a ferocious lion,
the Goddess in all her awesome
majesty, vanquished the evil one
without much ado. This day, thus,
also celebrates the magnificence
and omnipotence of Goddess Durga.
On the same day, Lord Rama,
an avatar of Sri Vishnu fought
Ravana, a ten headed demon and restored
dharma (righteousness) on earth. In
many places it culminates with the
burning of huge images of the demon King
Ravana of Lanka (Ceylon) and his
accomplice, symbolic of the triumph of
good over evil.
The festival is celebrated in varied
manner all over the country.
In Delhi it is
known as Ram Lila (Life Story of
Rama) with fireworks and re-enchantments
of the Ramayana.
In northern India, the festival
wears the colourful garb of Ramlila
wherein various incidents from Rama's
life are enacted, as is the destruction
of Ravana and Bharat Milap, that is the
reunion of Ram and his estranged brother
Bharat, on the former's return to Ayodhya
after 14 years of exile.
The Dasara of Mysore,
is also quite famous where caparisoned
elephants lead a colourful procession
through the gaily dressed streets of the
In West Bengal
the festival is known as Durga Puja
and is a major festival. The whole
state comes alive during this
festival. The City of Joy proves
its name during the festival. As Diwali
is the most gaily celebrated festival in
Maharashtra, it is Durga-Puja in Bengal.
Huge pandals are erected to worship the
big idols of the goddess Durga.
Beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess are
worshipped in elaborate pandals for nine
days, and on the ninth day, these are
carried out in procession for immersion
(visarjan) in a river or pond.
In Kulu valley in Himachal
Pradesh, the festival takes place
a little later than elsewhere. The
hill- folk celebrate Dasara with a grand
mass ceremony wherein village deities are
taken out in elaborate processions.
It is a delightful time when the Kullu
Valley shows why it is known as the Valley
of the Gods.
In Gujarat the Navaratri
(Festival of Nine Nights), is perhaps the
most celebrated festival. The Navaratri,
is famous for the dance form raas-garba
dandiya which is performed at
night for the nine-nights festival,
before Dussehra. The women dance
around an earthen lamp while singing
devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic
clapping of hands.
In Tamil Nadu,
the first three days are dedicated to the
worship of Lakshmi, Goddess of
wealth and prosperity, the next three
days to Saraswati, Goddess of
learning and arts and the last three days
to Shakti (Durga).
Navaratri is taken as a period of
In rural India, children
returned to school on Vijayadashmi which
is also dedicated to Saraswati. On
this day their teachers would draw the
symbol of Saraswati,
the Goddess of Learning on their slates.
On Vijayadashmi, people worship
weapons, tools and implements of their
trade. They have sumptuous meals at
noon and towards evening they don holiday
attire and gather together to worship
sami (presenpis specigara) or in its
absence the Apta (Bauhima
racemosa ) tree. On this day the
leaves of Apta are supposed to symbolise
gold and are exchanged while greeting one
another. The Dasara day is considered
highly auspicious for the undertaking of
any new work or business.
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