Information about Dussehra / Vijayadashmi

Dussehra is a festival of reverence of good and its power to subdue evil. This exhilarating and inspiring festival is celebrated by Hindus across India and is known by different names across the country. It is also known as Vijayadashmi, according to Hindu mythology. It is believed that it was on this day that Lord Rama killed Ravana, the demon King of Lanka to rescue his beloved wife Sita, after cutting ten heads of Ravana, on the tenth day of the ensuing battle. Hence, to celebrate the day, colossal effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnath, filled with crackers and surrounded by fireworks, are burnt to signify the end of evil. Besides this, play enactments of Ramayana, known as Ram Leela are also preformed across India preceding Dussehra. These plays are based on the epic Ramayana, which describes the life saga of Lord Rama.

The festivities of Dussehra are celebrated for ten days in the month of Ashvin, or Ashwayuja as per the Hindu lunar calendar (September or October) from Shukla Paksha Pratipada, or the day after the new moon which falls in Bhadrapada, to Dashami, or the tenth day of Ashvin. The preceding nine days to Dussehra are collectively known as 'Navratri' and are dedicated to the worship of Mother Goddess, Shakti. For Bengalis, Dussehra a is part of their most important festival Durga Puja, wherein Goddess Durga, an incarnation of Mother Goddess, is revered with great religious fervor and on the day of Vijayadashmi, her idols are immersed in water with tremendous pomp and show. In southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the day (Dussehra) sees Saraswati Puja being organized in most households and education of small kids commences from this auspicious day onwards, which is known as 'Vidya aarambham'. 
Mysore Dussehra is also known for its grandeur. Thus, the name or the way of celebrating this pious Hindu festival might be different across the country, but it celebrates the victory of good over evil all over.



History & Origin Of Dusshera 

Triumph Of Lord Rama Over Ravana : The celebration of Dussehra is rooted in the Hindu epic of Ramayana, according to which, Lord Rama, the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu, killed the ten-headed demon Ravana, in Satyug. Ravan had abducted Rama's wife Sita. Rama, along with his brother Lakshmana, follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys, headed towards Lanka (Ravana's Kingdom) in order to enter a war with Ravana and rescue Sita. On his way to Lanka, Rama organized Chandi Pooja to seek the blessings of Ma Durga, the Goddess of power and courage. After seeking her blessings, Lord Rama defeated and killed Ravana, with the help of his fellow beings. Therefore, the day was celebrated to commemorate the victory of Rama over Ravana, which later came to be known as Vijayadashmi or Dussehra. 

Assassination Of Mahishasura By Goddess Durga : Another legend is connected to Goddess Durga. According to the story, all the Gods in swarglok and the living beings on earth were upset by the tyranny of the demon Mahishasura, because he had acquired invincible power to conquer the world. He was undefeatable, even by the mighty deities - Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Therefore, all the Gods decided to create a power, which would destroy Mahishasura, freed the living beings from his despotism and restore the swaglok to them. This gave rise to the creation of Goddess Durga, an avatar of Ma Shakti. With the weapons given to her by the Gods, Goddess Durga went to fight against Mahishasura. She defeated the demon, successfully, and restored the swaglok to the Gods, as promised. Her victory is celebrated as Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, by many people following Hinduism. 

Rain Of Gold Coins: According to a story, Kautsa, the young son of Devdatta (a Brahmin), was residing in the city of Paithan. After pursuing his education under the guidance of Rishi Varatantu, he wanted to offer a dakshina to his Guru. Although the guru refused initially, he later asked for 140 million gold coins. The student approached King Raghu for the coins, because he was renowned for his generosity. Within three days of the student's request, King Raghu asked the God of Wealth - Kuber - to create a rain of gold coins near the apati and shanu trees. After presenting the promised gold coins to his guru, Kautsa distributed the rest of the coins to the needy, on the day of Dussehra. Since then, people loot the leaves of apati trees and present to each other as a symbol of gold, on Dussehra. 

Shami Tree : Another legend connected to the origin of Dusshera finds place in the greatest Hindu epic - Mahabharata. According to a story, Pandavas where banished by Kauravas for 12 years and 1 year of disguise, because the former were defeated in gambling (chausar) by the latter. Subsequently, Pandavas decided to spend their first 12 years of exile in the woods and the last year in disguise. Since they were asked to remain incognito during that period, Pandavas did not want to be exposed to others. Therefore, they lay aside their divine and powerful weapons during the exile. They concealed their weapons under the shami tree, situated close to the place of their residence. At the end of every year of the exile, Pandavas came to the shami tree to check whether their weapons were there. Whenever Pandavas approached the tree, they worshipped it and Goddess Durga, the presiding deity. In the mean time, Kauravas were making every attempt to trace Pandavas, so that they could extend the exile time, because it was said that if they were found, they would have to spend another 12 years in the woods. However, the Kauravas could find the Pandavas only past the stipulated time. Subsequently, the Pandavas went to the shami tree, fetched their concealed weapons and went straight to the battle field to fight the Kauravas. Pandavas emerged victorious. The event took place in dasami and since good had achieved victory over the evil, it came to be known as Vijayadashmi. Since then, people hug each other under the shami tree and exchange its leaves.
Celebrations:
Largely, the day is celebrated to commemorate the prevalence of good over evil. The day is celebrated on a large scale in India as well as in Bangladesh. The most famous Dussehra celebrations in India are those in the city of Mysore. Goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped on this day and a grand procession of her idol is taken out across the city. Major buildings are decorated with lights and color across the city.
Other famous Dussehra celebrations in India include that of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata and Orissa, where the festival is preceded by week long celebrations. People visit the Pooja Pandals wearing new clothes, prepare traditional food at home and celebrate the festival with their friends and families. In most other parts of India, plays are organized across cities depicting the story of Ramayana which culminates in the killing of Ravana on this day. Statues of Ravana are burnt everywhere in India on Dussehra and in Delhi, the event is attended by political dignitaries in the Ramlila Maidan.

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