DEMYSTIFYING the festival of DUSSEHRA
The festival of Dussehra is celebrated with great enthusiasm and reverence throughout India by the Hindu community. This pulsating festival of Dussehra has its own significance and unique features that set it apart from the rest of the festivals celebrated across the diverse nation of India. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated in various forms, across India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Also known as Vijayadashmi, this spectacular festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin, as per the Hindu calendar.
As far as the Georgian calendar is concerned, the festival falls in the months of either September or October. The word Dussehra has its roots in the ancient Sanskrit language and means "remover of bad fate". It is time for celebration, a time for victory of good over bad, a time when world see the example of power of good.
What does Dussehra mean to you?
Dussehra means different things to different people. For some, it marks the end of fasting. For others, it means enjoying a dazzling display of fireworks at the local mela. And then there are those who celebrate this Hindu festival in more unique ways than others. Innumerable legends have it that Vijaya Dashami is the high-note culmination of the nine day festivities of Maha Navratri, which precede this festival.
Navratri symbolises nine avatars of goddess Durga, who killed the evil forces. It usually coincides with the end of the rainy season.Mother Goddess Durga or Shakti or Parvati the wife of Shiva acquires power and energy from all the Gods to defeat and vanquish all evil from the face of the earth and protect her progenies from every misery. She then finally defeats and kills the demon called Mahishasura and his comrades after a fierce nine-day long battle. However, on the tenth day, the Goddess subdued the ravaging beast and killed him. This sacred day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi in most parts of India. In most of the eastern region, huge idols of Goddess Durga, ganesh and Kartik are installed in colossal pandals (huge tents).
Various rituals are performed and prayers are offered to the Goddess by numerous devotees for four days. On the fifth day, amidst great revelry, the idols are submerged in rivers or sea with great reverence as well as pomp and show. This ritual symbolizes the return of the Goddess along with her kids to her husband Lord Shiva's home on Mount Kailash. It is a once in a life time experience to witness the madness of the city of Kolkata which gets into a crazy festive mood celebrating Durga Puja.
One cannot miss the theme pandals, artistic idols, fancy light decorations, dhaak and dhunuchi dances, musical performances, and traditionally dressed people all around. Durga Puja epitomizes Bengali culture in all its splendour; with art, culture, music, literature, and even food. Time to eat, eat and eat like a true foodie and make merry.
Believing the interesting version of the popular mythological tales there is another most popular reason related to the origin of this festival. In northern India, Dussehra signifies the triumph of good over evil and always becomes the centerpiece of all the celebrations. Lord Rama along with his brother Lakshmana and trusted aid Hanuman, and an army of monkeys, attacked the demon king and a great battle ensued for ten days. It is mainly associated with the slaying of the malicious and powerful ten-headed king of Lanka, Ravana at the hands of Lord Rama. Since then, Dussehra is believed to be celebrated on that day till date.
The word Dussehra, in itself, can be construed as Dasahara, which means cutting of ten heads of the demon Ravana. In northern India, entertaining and inspiring plays depicting some of the key episodes from the life of Lord Rama, as per the epic Ramayana, are performed across the region, known as Ram Leela. The colossal effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnad and his brother Kumbhakarna, are burnt as a mark of subjugation of evil. The occasion is hugely enjoyed by the crowd and the entire ambiance seems like a splendid carnival.
Different forms of Dussehra celebrations in India
In western India, especially in Gujarat, the evenings and nights are occasions for the fascinating Garba dance. The women dance around an earthen lamp while singing devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic clapping of hands. In Mysore, Karnataka Dussehra celebrations are most extravagant. As per the legend rampant here, it is said that Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon, Mahishasura on this day. The flamboyant Mysore Palace is festooned like a bride and illuminated with thousands of lights. The grand parade led by decked up elephants and horses with rich coverings, across Mysore is a major tourist attraction of the region.
In fact, the principal motive of Vijaya Dashami is to mark the victory of good over evil and endorse peace and social bonding. Hindus and people from all religions and walks of life become a part of its festivities and sweets are distributed to one and all and gifts are exchanged. People also pray for peace and affluence. Apart from the vivacity that this festival of victory of right over wrong brings for mankind, has various interesting and captivating customs as well as traditions associated with it, which make it truly charming.
Overcoming the evil & following the path of goodness
Food for thought! Although Dussehra, marks the ultimate triumph, it would not be wrong to say that the existence of Rama is only relevant till Ravana is there. Since creation is the balance of equal forces, evil also forms an essential element of creation. We as a major component and parcel of this beautiful creation should astutely decide upon which forces we join our hands with. This enthralling and enchanting festival of dussehra indicates a clear message of how being in veneration and recognition towards everything, matters in our lives and leads to our success and conquest. So folks, celebrate Dussehra heartily and lift the goodness inside you!