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.