Vijayadashami also known as Dussehra is a major Hindu festival and holiday in India which is celebrated in all the states in unique manner but with the same enthusiasm and believes. People in millions gather and enjoy the spirit of goodness over the evil with music, dance, skits (Ram Leela), Mela, etc offering a big flavor of Hindu cultures and traditions. This holiday in India is a 10 days long festival that inspires millions to fight against evil and remove negativity from inside.
History of Dussehra
Many stories revolve around the history of Dussehra and why it is celebrated. Dussehra is a major Hindu festival that is celebrated all across India in different ways. All these stories and texts related to Dussehra reaches one conclusion that is “good winning over evil”.
Dussehra is made up of two Sanskrit works-Dasha meaning ten and hara meaning defeat. Dussehra is celebrated in the month of Ashwin on the 10th day, which according to the Gregorian calendar falls in October or November.
Out of all the stories that revolve around the Dussehra, The two most known and followed by most of the Hindus is the victory of Goddess Durga when she killed Mahishasur the Demon and when Lord Ram killed Ravana.
In Bengal, the celebrations of Durga Puja starts on the 6th day of Navratri and it goes on till Vijayadashami. It is believed by Hindus that Goddess Durga fought a battle against the Demon Mahishasur and killed him on the 10th day of the battle. It is also the reason why people worship 9 avatars of Durga during Navratri and celebrate her victory over the demon on the 10th day known as Vijayadashami.
In north India, Dussehra marks the celebration of the day when Lord Ram killed Ravana. This story has been obtained from a very famous story of Ramayana. This story is about a king in Ayodha who had three wives and four sons- Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughana. Rama was always considered to be the perfect son among all of them. Rama got married to Sita the princess of a nearby kingdom. Bharata's mother one day ask Rama to be exiled for 14 years and her son Bharatabe made crown prince instead.
The kind had no choice and he sent Rama to leave for the exile. Sita and Lakshmana did not leave Rama's side and followed him to the forest. Suddenly, Surphanaka, a female demoness tried to kill Sita but Lakshmana wounded her instead. To take avenge from Lakshamana she asked her brother Khara to kill Sita but Rama and Lakshamana killed all of the Khara army. But one of the soldiers was alive who went to the different kingdom known as Lanka to ask Ravana to take avenge his sister Surphanaka. Ravana with the help of his magic and tricks abducted Sita and took her to Lanka.
While Rama and Lakshmana were searching for Sita, They met Hanuman who became the devotee of Rama. Hanuman pledged that he will find Sita and will help Rama to get her back. In search of Sita, Hanuman flew to Lanka and found Sita imprisoned by the Demon Ravana.
Hanuman met Sita and told her that Rama and Lakshmana are coming to help you. He burnt the Ravana kingdom before flying back to Rama. Thereafter, Rama, Lakshaman and Vanar army built a causeway from the tip of India to Lanka. They traveled to Lanka where they killed ten-headed demon Ravana and his two brothers to get back Sita.
How Local Celebrate Dussehra
Dussehra is celebrated differently across all the states of India. In most parts of the northern and western India, it is celebrated in the happiness of Lord Ram Killing Devil Ravana. On this day, people gather in open grounds where three large effigies of Ravana and his brothers Kumbhakarna and Meganatha are made. There are many small and large Melas that are organized with food, games, music, dance, stunts, firecrackers, etc. In the evening, Ramlila an epic story of Ramayana is performed by artists. In the end, Artist playing ram shoots an arrow in all the three effigies one by one. All the three effigies are then burnt down to the ground. This traditional practice was even recognized by the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” by UNESCO in 2008.
In many regions of south India, people maintain, clean and worship their instruments and tools of their livelihood and worship goddess Sarasvati (the Hindu Goddess of knowledge, learning, and arts.). In west India, Both Rama and Durga are revered for their victory over evil. Celebrations including fasting and prayers at temples and Dandiya and Garba are being played while wearing traditional dresses.
What is Most Important About Dussehra to the People of India
No matter how it is celebrated by Hindus, all of them signifies happiness and believe that good will always be greater than evil. It gives strength to people to fight against the devil and remove all the negativity from inside. From all the stories related to this festival, all of them give us the message of liberation and emancipation from present-day evils that are not in the shape of humans but inside us.
Advise from the Locals
There is a lot that you can enjoy at the time of Dussehra. It is not possible for you to visit different states and experience this magnificent festival. It is advised that you should explore all the options and find out which state celebrates this festival in a way you like it the most. Some of the best options are stated below.
- Durga Puja in West Bengal.
- Gerba in Gujrat
- Dussehra in Kallu
- Epic Ram Leela in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh
- Worship Goddess in Tamil Nadu
- Worshipping nature in Chhattisgarh
- Carnival in Karnataka.
- Mysore Dussehra. (10 days festival)
An Overall Feeling of Dussehra in India
Dussehra is a 10 days long festival where people visit temples to do puja every morning and evening. Many people follow all the rituals and keep fast as well. Dussehra brings all the people from different religions, casts, gender together and celebrates the goodness over the evil. People on the day of Dussehra wear traditional clothes, do puja and celebrate the goodness by destroying the evil. Local stores also sell flowers, wood (to keep the devil away), costumes for kids, arrows, Hanuman Mace, etc. There is a lot of traditional Indian food and melas all-round the cities where people gather and enjoy the festival with full enthusiasm and joy.