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All About Dussehra and The Stories Behind The Festival

October 12, 2021    7 min read

Vijayadashami/Dussehra/Dasara/Dashain is a one of the major festivals celebrated primarily by Hindus in India and Nepal and falls on the tenth day which marks the end of the 9 day Navratri period. It is celebrated for various reasons across various parts of the country but the festival largely commemorates the victory of Good over Evil. On the occasion on Dussehra 2021, let us learn some of the major folklore based on which this auspicious day is celebrated by Indians everywhere!

  1. Ramayana: According to the story of Ramayana, Ravana kidnaps Sita and takes her to his kingdom in Lanka (present day Sri Lanka). Rama asks Ravana to release her, but Ravana refuses. After performing severe penance for ten thousand years, Ravana receives a boon from the creator-god Brahma; he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons, or spirits. Lord Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat and kill him, thus circumventing the boon given by Lord Brahma. A deadly and fierce battle takes place between Rama and Ravana in which Rama kills Ravana. Ravana has ten heads; the killing of one who has ten heads is called Dusshera. Finally, Dharma was established on the Earth because of Rama's victory over Ravana.
  2. Vijayadashami: also marks the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga's victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to restore and protect religious and moral duties which is widely celebrated in the Eastern part of India.

In the West, especially in Gujarat, people gather and perform every evening of Navaratri period to music with the local ’Garba’ dance and lots of food and sweets. People dress in traditional and colorful attire and celebrate into the night.

In the East, Durga Pujo is the most awaited festival of the year and is marked by dancing, food, pandal hopping and revelry. It is also a ten day festival in which there are thousands of clay scultptures of Durga and other Gods that are placed across cities and towns on stages called pandals.

Source: Wikipedia

In the South, the Gombe Habba or Golu sees miniatures of Gods and other objects placed on steps at homes of people as a way to celebrate the event. The Mysore Dasara event is considered the most sought after event in the country celebrated amidst the royalty of the Mysore palace with guns, horses and elephants that people throng from across the world to see!

While the festival varies in the way it is commemorated across the country, there is significant relation to education and learning on the occasion. A notable tradition of several South Indian regions has been the dedication of this festival to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music and arts. She is worshipped, along with instruments of one's trade during this festival. In South India, people maintain, clean and worship their instruments, tools of work, books and implements of their livelihood during this festival, remembering Goddess Saraswati and Durga. Kids who are starting school are admitted to their new school on Vijayadashami day as the day is considered an auspicious day for new beginnings including buying a new house or vehicle.

Although the celebrations this year will remain muted on the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and precautions required in its wake, we wish that the spirit of the festival is remembered and practiced with utmost fervor in the safety of our homes with family and friends.

Practically wishes all of you a happy Dussehra!

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