The whole world knows India as a land of unity in diversity, numerous ancient cultures, and colorful festivals. Dussehra, known as Vijayadashami in some states of India, is a noteworthy celebration with which Indians end their nine-day-long celebration of Navratri every year. It is a celebration of the triumph of good over unholy forces. According to the Hindu calendar, this vital celebration must be celebrated on the tenth day of the month Ashvin.
There are so many running tales that unfold each & every event in detail. The celebration assumes great importance in the lives of Indians for various reasons and celebrated diversely in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. Individuals everywhere throughout the nation enjoy the holy festival in their own particular manner, with incredible energy and eagerness.
What Veda’s & Purana’s say about this Festival?
The day denotes the triumph of the seventh incarnation of Vishnu – Lord Rama who killed the ten-headed evil spirit Ravana on the tenth day of Ashvin and thereafter gave over the royal possession of Ravana’s kingdom Lanka to his sibling Vibhishana. The word ‘Dussehra’ has come from two Sanskrit words – ‘dasha’ and ‘hara’ – that mean defeating the ten-headed demon Ravana. The day has another significance as well. It marks the end of Durga Puja, where people worship Goddess Durga who killed the devil Mahishasur, to help destroy evil and restore goodness. It was also an end of Pandava’s exile & much more significantly positive things happened on this very day.
How it is Celebrated in the Different States of India
Indians celebrate this festival in different ways across the subcontinent. North Indians organize numerous colorful fairs where skilled actors perform plays based on the narrative of Ramayana. Natives define these plays as “Ramleela”. Upon the arrival of Vijaydashmi, north Indians set fire on the idol of the demon Ravana, his son Meghnad, and brother Kumbhakarna. South Indians worship Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Shakti, and Goddess Saraswati in Navratri. In east India (Odisha and West Bengal in particular), people immerse the idol of the goddess in a river or a lake upon the arrival of Vijaydashmi.
The traditions and custom of Navratri include worshipping the idol and picture of Goddess Durga in homes and sanctuaries. The lovers offer foods grown from the ground to the Goddess. They likewise sing bhajans in her respect. Performing Dandiya and Garba is mandatory on the nights of Navratri, mostly in Gujarat. Garba is performed before the ‘aarti’, as reverential execution in the respect of the Goddess, while Dandiya is performed after it, as a piece of the festivals. In West Bengals, ladies pray their respect to the Goddess before the immersion and play “Sindoor Khela”. North Indians set a fire in the idol of Ravana and enjoy delicious foods and cultural programs to celebrate the day.
In Maharashtra, the victory of Lord Ram over Ravan is celebrated by crossing the territory of a town or city in the north-east direction in the third part (‘prahar’) of the day, that is, in the afternoon. During this ritual, one should bring the leaves of Apta and Shami trees. Leaves of the Apta are offered as ‘gold’ to God, family, and friends. Conventionally, gold should be gifted by the young to the old. In Maharashtra, there is a custom of gifting gold to family members and friends on Dussehra.
The importance of the leaves is described as below;
Scientifically known as Bauhinia racemosa, this is a native Indian tree. The tree is easy to recognize due to its typical rough textured twin leaves. On the day of Dussehra, these leaves are plucked from the tree & are exchanged as gold & metaphorically looted from each other as a ritual in Maharashtra. The tree has medicinal properties & has immense importance in ‘Ayurveda.’ According to the story, on this day, god of wealth ‘Kubera’ himself converted millions of Apta leaves into gold to help an honorable scholar ‘Kautsya’ to pay ‘Guru-Dakshina’ (Fees). Kautsya accepted only the ones he needed & the rest were distributed among residents of ‘Ayodhya.
Scientifically known as Prosopsis cineraria, this leguminous tree is also native to the Indian subcontinent. Like Acacia, this tree grows in dry arid areas of India. It is referred to as ‘tree of life’ in deserts due to its medicinal importance. In Mahabharata, the Pandavas lost to the Kaurav in a dice game and were exiled in the forest for twelve years. Pandavas hid their weapons in a hole in a Shami tree before they entered the Kingdom of Virat to complete their final year of exile. After that year, on Vijayadashmi they recovered the weapons from the tree & declared their real identities and defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle. Since that day, Shami trees and weapons have been worshiped, and the exchange of Shami leaves on Vijayadashmi has been a symbol of good will. books and vehicles are also worshiped on this auspicious day.
Be that as it may, in Indians celebrate Dussehra and all other festivals, regardless of the fact that who are Hindu or having a place with some other religions. There is a soul of fellowship seen amid celebration seasons.