Dussehra Festival

Dussehra Festival is one of the most important events of India, joyfully celebrated among Hindus. Also known as 'Vijayadashami', this day is followed by a nine-day festival, Navratri. Festival of Dussehra is celebrated differently in various parts of India. In the eastern and northeastern states, the festival marks the end of Durga Puja. In other states, Dussehra marks the end of Ramlila, and celebrated as Lord Rama's victory over the demon Ravana.


Historical Significance of Dussehra

Dussehra marks the victory of truth and love, over evil and hatred. According to mythology, the demon king Ravana kidnapped Goddess Sita and kept her captive in Lanka. Lord Ram, after a series of fierce battles, killed Ravana and rescued Goddess Sita. This victory is commemorated as Dussehra and celebrated by burning the effigies of Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhakarna.


Celebrations

There is a wave of enthusiasm in the air of every nook and corner in India, during Vijayadashami or Dussehra. Followed by a nine day Navatari and Durga Puja festival; this is a community get together on Dussehra. Before the beginning of Dussehra, theatrical performances of Ram-Leela take place. On Dussehra, huge models, packed with crackers are set on fire, symbolizing the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. These models are of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghanad. Setting the models of Ravana and his brothers on fire signifies eradication of evil from the society and hearts of the people.


Mysore Dasara

One of the most significant festivals of Mysore, Karnataka; this ten day long Dasara festival is also known as 'Nadahabba'. The festival celebrates the triumph of good and its power over evil. Devotees also believe that this is the day when Goddess Chamundeshwari killed Mahishasura, the demon king of Mysore. It was first celebrated in the 15th century during the rule of Vijayanagar Kings.

During the festival, the majestic Mysore Palace is illuminated with thousands of lights looking like a glittering star. The celebrations are commenced by the royal couple of the palace with a special ritual in the Chamundi Temple. Thereafter, devotees execute numerous dance performances and musical concerts to please the deity. During the festival, the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed on a golden mandapa which is then carried on elephant’s top in a procession that ends at Bannimantap. As the festival closes, a grand torch light parade is organised at the Bannimantap on the occasion of ‘Vijayadashami’.

It is believed that Dussehra in Mysore is being celebrated since 17th century, after the King of Mysore ordered the state to celebrate the same in full glory.


Interesting facts about Dussehra

  • The word ‘Dussehra’ is derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘Dasha-Hara’, which literally means “The Sun will not Rise”, until Lord Rama kills Ravan.

  • Goddess Durga killed the demon on the 10th day of the Shukla Paksha of Hindu Lunar Calendar and the victory on this day is referred to as Vijayadashmi.

  • Ravan's ten heads represents ten bad qualities of a person: Lust - Kam Vasana, Anger - Krodh, Attachment - Moh, Greed - Lobh, Over Pride - Mad, Jealousy - Matsarya, Selfishness - Swarth, Injustice - Anyaay, Cruelty - Amanavta, Ego – Ahankar.

  • Dussehra is also celebrated in Nepal and Bangladesh. Malaysia has an official holiday to mark the religious festival.
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