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History:

Dussehra Festival

Dussehra or Dassera, also known as Vijayadashmi ('Vijay' meaning 'victory' and 'Dashmi meaning 'tenth day )is a popular festival celebrated by Hindus all over India, albeit with different names. It is believed that Dussehra marks the defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama. In other words, it signifies the triumph of good over evil.

The 'Ramlila' - an enactment of the life of Lord Rama, is held during the nine days preceding Dussehra. On the tenth day (Dussehra or Vijay Dasami), larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son and brother - Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna are set to fire.

Legends of the Festival:

>> Legend of Lord Rama and Ravana, KIng of Lanka: -

It is believed that it was on this day that Lord Rama killed the demon-king, Ravana and won over Lanka, his kingdom. In other words, it signifies the triumph of good over evil. The legendary triumph is reenacted to the day. Huge effigies of Ravana, his giant brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnad are placed in vast open grounds.

>> Legend of Mother Goddess Shakti : -

Another legend that is linked to Dussehra is that of the Goddess Durga slaying the buffalo-demon, Mahishasura. According to popular mythology, the gods were compelled to grant Mahishasura indomitable powers for his unparalleled meditation. As expected, the omnipotent buffalo-demon Mahishasura raised hell at the gates of heaven, astounding the gods with his mammoth dominion. The infuriated gods then created Durga. It is believed that Durga was actualised by the combined effort of all deities. Durga possesses a weapon of each god and is said to be more powerful than all of them put together.

Celebrations of the festival:

>> In Himachal Pradesh, a week long fair in the hill town of Kullu, is part of the Dussehra celebrations. From the little temples in the hills, deities are brought in procession to the 'maidan' in Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, Raghunathji. The celebration actually begins nearly 10 days in advance as per tradition.

>> In Mysore, Karnataka the Mysore palace is illuminated for a whole month during Dussehra and caparisoned elephants lead a colourful procession through the gaily-decorated streets of the city. It is the most colourful celebration of Dussehra in world. The spectacular procession taken out on this day is really enjoyable.

>> In Tamil Nadu, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity, the next three days to Saraswati, Goddess of learning and arts and the last three days to Shakti (Durga). In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, families arrange dolls (Bommai Kolu) on artificially constructed steps and prepare an elaborate spread of lamps and flowers. Women traditionally exchange gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets. The whole set up is put on the very first day of Navaratri. Vijaya Dashamiy is an auspicious occasion for children to commence their education in classical dance and music, and to pay homage to their teachers.

>> In Punjab, Navaratri is taken as a period of fasting.

>> 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.





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