Dussehra

A TO Z INDIA - - Festival: - - Srini­vasan

Dussehra, also known as Vi­jayadashmi, is a ma­jor In­dian fes­ti­val cel­e­brated on the tenth day of Ashvin month ac­cord­ing to the Hindu cal­en­dar. This day falls in the month of Septem­ber or Oc­to­ber. The day cul­mi­nates a 9 day fast­ing pe­riod of Navra­tri in the Hindu cul­ture. The day also co­in­cides with im­mer­sion of the idol of God­dess Durga. The day is cel­e­brated to com­mem­o­rate the killing of Ra­vana by Lord Rama. The day also cel­e­brates the killing of de­mon Mahisha­sur by God­dess Durga. Dussehra cel­e­bra­tion spreads the mes­sage of the vic­tory of good over sin.

It is be­lieved that the cel­e­bra­tion of Dussehra started in the 17th cen­tury, when the king of Mysore or­dered the cel­e­bra­tion of the day on a grand scale. Ever since, the day is cel­e­brated with great fer­vor and en­ergy. There are a lot of mytho­log­i­cal tales as­so­ci­ated with the day. Ac­cord­ing to Ra­mayana,

Ra­vana was killed by Lord Rama on this day as re­venge against the cruel act of kid­nap­ping God­dess Sita by the for­mer. Mythol­ogy also has it that God­dess Durga killed de­mon Mahisha­sura af­ter a long spell of cru­elty and op­pres­sion by Mahisha­sura. An­other story as­so­ci­ated with the ori­gins of this day is the rain­ing of gold coins. Af­ter Kautsa asked King Raghu for 140 mil­lion coins to give an of­fer­ing to his Guru in

re­turn for his knowl­edge, Raghu­raja went to In­dra for help who then asked Lord Ku­ber to rain coins on the city of Ay­o­d­hya. Af­ter giv­ing 140 mil­lion coins to his Guru, Kautsa dis­trib­uted the rest to the peo­ple of Ay­o­d­hya.

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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