Vijayadashami, also called Dussehra, Dasara, or Dashain, is a significant Hindu festival observed annually at the conclusion of Navaratri. It is observed on the 10th day of Ashvin, the seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar, which normally falls between September and October in the Gregorian calendar. This year Dussehra will be observed on Wednesday, 5 October 2022.
Dussehra is honored for a variety of reasons and is observed and celebrated differently across the Indian subcontinent. Dussehra is the conclusion of Durga Puja in the southern, eastern, northeastern, and certain northern areas of India, commemorating goddess Durga’s triumph over the buffalo monster Mahishasura to restore and defend dharma.
The celebration is known colloquially as Dussehra in the northern, central, and western states (also spelled Dasara, Dashahara). It commemorates the conclusion of Ramlila and God Rama’s triumph over Ravana in these places. Alternatively, it expresses respect for one of the goddess Devi’s incarnations, such as Durga or Saraswati.
Dussehra ceremonies include a march to a river or oceanfront with clay figurines of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, as well as Kartikeya, escorted by music and chanting, followed by immersion of the figures in the sea for disintegration and goodbye.
Elsewhere, during Dasara, towering effigies of Ravana, a symbol of evil, are set ablaze with pyrotechnics, signaling the end of evil. Additionally, the event kicks off preparations for Diwali, the great festival of lights that occurs twenty days following Dussehra.
The Significance Of Dussehra
There are two widely accepted tales surrounding the Dussehra Festival:
Rama’s triumph against Ravana
Rama was King Dasarath’s oldest son and ruler of Ayodhya. When Lord Rama was about to be anointed as the next monarch, Queen Kaikayee convinced the king to crown Bharat and exile Rama for 14 years. Rama was joined in his exile by his brother Lakshman and wife Sita.
Soorpanakha, a female demon, became enchanted by Lord Rama’s charm and wanted to marry him, for which she threatened to murder Sita. Laxman slashed her nose in response to this. Knowing what had happened to his sister, Demon Ravana sought vengeance by abducting Sita. Lord Rama, with Laxman and Hanuman, battled Ravana and triumphed in rescuing his bride Sita.
Durga’s triumph against Mahishasur
Lord Brahma bestowed a blessing on the demon Mahishasur, according to which no weapon with a male name could injure him. Taking advantage of this blessing, he wreaked havoc and instilled enmity. The gods were very agitated and concerned about this circumstance; they sought advice from Lord Vishnu, who urged them to summon Goddess Shakti.
With God’s petitions, a heavenly shine erupted from Lord Shiva’s heart, and the Adhya Shakti was produced by the bodies of all gods. The gods then bestowed upon her jewelry and a lion to serve as her transport. She was tasked with confronting Mahishasur, the demon. Goddess Adhya Shakti-Durga battled the demon Mahishasur for nine days and nights and eventually emerged triumphant.
Rituals For Dussehra Puja
Dusshera is observed in the month of Ashwin on the tenth day of Shukla Paksh. This day commemorates Shri Ram’s defeat over Ravan, which is why it is also known as Vijaya Dashami (victorious day). Traditionally, the effigies of Ravan, his brother Kumbhkaran, and his son Meghanath are stuffed with crackers and set aflame.
On this day, mentioning the bird Neelkanth is important. It is believed to be a personified manifestation of Shivji. Both men and women do the Dusshera pooja.
On this day, a particular Dusshera picture is created on the floor using wheat floor or chuna. Additionally, many venerate a printed picture of Dusshera.
Preparation for the Puja
- Image of Dussehra
- Cow dung, chuna
- Roli,moli, chawal, flowers
- Jhuwara which is grown on Navratri day
- Banana, mooli (radish), gwarphalli (flat cluster beans)
- Jaggery,1-1/4 kg chawal, money for offering, kheer, puri
- Bahikhata (account books)
Vidhi / Method of Performing Puja
- With wheat flour/chuna, create a Dussehra picture and 9 tikkis with cow dung.
- Create two katories with lids from cow dung. Keep cash in one katori and a little amount of roli, chawal, fruit, plus jhuwara in the other.
- Puja should be performed with water, mooli, roli, chawal, flowers, and jhuwara.
- Banana, mooli, gwarphalli, jaggery, and 1-1/4 kg chawal are all acceptable.
- Deepak, light the dhoop and do the parikrama.
- The traditional bahikhata is puiaed by presenting flowers, jhuwara, roli, and chawal.
- On this day, only fresh bahikhata is ordered for Diwali puja.
- Following the puja, money is removed from the cow dung box and deposited in the safe.
- Brahmins are served food and Dakshina.
Dussehra is a significant event because it commemorates the victory of virtue over evil. While individuals of many faiths and groups observe this holiday in unique ways, there is a shared custom of burning enormous effigies of Ravana.
Months before Dussehra, artisans in Rajasthan begin work on massive sculptures of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakaran, and his son Meghanath. They are exquisitely constructed and embellished. On Dussehra’s major day, these effigies are burned in wide-open spaces (maidans), when a big throng gathers to watch this ancient act of purification. It is considered fortunate because individuals burn their bad habits and actions with effigies. It creates an aura of purity and tranquility. Children purchase tiny gifts at these fairs as a memento of the day.
In Himachal Pradesh, the Dussehra festivities include a week-long festival in the hill town of Kullu. Deities are transported in procession from the little temples in the hills to the maidan in Kullu to offer reverence to the presiding god, Raghunathji. As is customary, the celebration starts roughly ten days in advance.
During Dussehra in Mysore, Karnataka, the Mysore Palace is lit for a whole month and caparisoned elephants lead a brilliant parade through the city’s gaily adorned streets. It is the world’s most vibrant Dussehra festival. This day’s beautiful parade is quite delightful.
In Tamil Nadu, the initial 3 days are devoted to Lakshmi, the Goddess of riches and prosperity; the following three days are dedicated to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and the arts; and the last 3 days are devoted to Shakti (Durga).
In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, families put dolls (Bommai Kolu) on man-made stairs and create an elaborate display of lighting and flowers. Women usually trade coconuts, clothing, and sweets as presents.
The whole setup takes place on the first day of Navaratri. Vijaya Dashami is an excellent time for youngsters to begin their classical dance and music studies and to pay tribute to their instructors.
In Punjab, Navaratri is observed as a fasting time. Evenings and nights in Gujarat are opportunities for the mesmerizing Garba dance. The ladies dance around an earthen light, chanting religious melodies and clapping their hands rhythmically.
FAQs About Dussehra
Through Navratri, Goddess Durga is adored in nine various avatars. The first day is dedicated to Goddess Shailputri; the second day is dedicated to Brahmacharini; the third day is dedicated to Chandraghanta; the fourth day is dedicated to Kushmanda; the fifth day is dedicated to Skandamata; the sixth day is dedicated to Katyayani; the seventh day is dedicated to Kaalratri; the eighth day is dedicated to Mahagauri, and the ninth day is dedicated to Siddhidatri.
After nine days of Navratri puja, Visarjan, or farewell to Ma Durga, is performed on the tenth day. Carry out the customary puja rituals as you did over the nine days of Navratri. Sprinkle the Kalash water throughout the home after the puja.
Each of the Nine Goddesses worshiped during Navratri is a manifestation of Goddess Shakti. Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kala Ratri (Kaalratri), Maha Gowri, and Siddhi Dayini are the nine goddesses worshiped.
Eastern and southern states observe Dussehra as a commemoration of Goddess Durga’s triumph over the monster Mahishasura. It starts on Navratri’s first day and lasts nine days. On the other hand, the majority of India’s northern and western states commemorate Dussehra as a commemoration of Lord Rama’s triumph over Ravana.
Now that you know everything about Dussehra, it’s time to get ready to celebrate this festival with a lot of pomp and love! For more blogs about popular Indian festivals, keep reading Seema!