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October 25, 2020
Vijaya Dashami, aka Dussehra, is one of the rare festivals of Hindu culture where feminity is considered divine. It is a ten-day festival that is celebrated with much grandeur in India that it is not seen elsewhere. Vijaya Dashami usually comes in the months of September or October depending on the Hindu calendar. Vijaya means victory and Dashami means the tenth day. The religious texts connote it as “Victory over Evil” on the tenth day. Dussehra means “tenth day”, and it also indicates the Triumph of Good”.
Dussehra is celebrated for a period of ten days, where each different manifestation of Shakti (feminine divinity) is worshipped each day. The last three days are far more important in this festival and celebrated with the names of “Durgashtami”, “Maharanavami”, and “Vijayadashami”. Vijayadashami is the day on which Goddess Durga Killed the vicious king Mahishasura after a battle of ten days. It symbolises the victory over evil.
The first nine days of the festival are celebrated as “Navaratri”. During these nine days idols of Goddess Durga are placed in public places and worshipped together.
After performing rituals for the first nine days, on the tenth day, the idols are immersed in water(visarjan) with sumptuous processions. The idea of immersion of idols after worshipping for nine days symbolises the nature of birth and death.
According to Ramayana, Vijaya Dashami is the day on which King Rama killed wicked king Raavana. This is why people in northern India play a short version of the epic Ramayana called “Ramlila”. On the day of Dussehra, the tenth day, the effigy of Ravana is burnt to signify the end of evil manners.
As per Mahabharata, another great Indian epic, Pandavas hid their distinctive weapons in the Shami tree during their period of exile. They took their weapons from the same place after the exile and worshipped the tree before heading to the war where they emerged victorious. Even today, honouring Shami trees is a custom on Dussehra, expressing respect for nature.
Did you know?
- West Bengal is a place known for Durga Puja during Navratri and Mysore is known for Dussehra celebrations.
- Arms, tools and vehicles are decorated and worshipped on the festival as gratitude since they provide the livelihood.