Dussehra also known as Vijayadashami is one of the most significant festivals of Hindus. It is predominantly celebrated in Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana, Karnataka, Gujarat, etc. It falls on the tenth day of the Navratri festival marking its end. Dussehra celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over demon King Ravana. Dussehra is celebrated differently with great fervor and excitement throughout the nation. Hindus usually observe the festival through special prayers and food offerings to various Gods and Goddesses at temples and homes all over India. This festival holds the virtues and courage of Lord Rama in high regard. Outdoor fairs and large parades are organized to celebrate Dussehra with huge zeal and happiness. This year Dussehra will be celebrated on 8 October 2019. Dussehra is a public holiday so all Government offices, banks, and post offices remain closed on this day.
History of the Festival
Dussehra is celebrated to recall and pay a tribute to Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The greatest Indian epic Ramayana tells the tale of Lord Rama and his beautiful wife Sita. After marriage, they both have to go for exile where the demon king of Lanka, Ravana abducts her and takes her into his kingdom.
Ravana abducted her to avenge his sister Shurpanakha‘s insult. Shurpanakha fell in love with Rama and Lakshmana and wanted to marry one of the two brothers. But Rama could not marry her as he was already married to Sita and Lakshmana refused to marry her. So Shurpanakha threatened to kill Sita to marry Rama and this enraged Lakshmana who cut off her nose and ears.
Later, Rama and Lakshmana raged a war against Ravana to restore Sita with her respect and dignity. They fought one of the greatest battles in history along with the support of Lord Hanuman and an army of monkeys (Vanar Sena) and defeated and killed Ravana and his companions. This defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama is celebrated every year by Hindus. It gives a powerful message to the devotees of Lord Rama to follow the path of goodness and not engage in evil deeds.
How the Festival is celebrated in India?
In the states of Northern India, Dussehra is celebrated with plays and dance performances. Ramleela is performed at various places that show the life of Ram and Sita and the story of their exile for fourteen years. It mainly focuses on the abduction of Sita by powerful King and demon Ravana and the war that is followed between Rama and Ravana.
Then, on the evening of Dussehra huge effigies of Ravana, Meghanatha and Kumbhakarna are burned down all over Indi
Rituals performed during the festival
During Dussehra, people believe in worshipping tools that are used to earn a living. These days people even include books, laptops, and vehicles in performing this ritual. This is especially seen in the state of Karnataka. According to an episode in Mahabharata, Arjun hid his weapons in a tree and when he came back after a year, on the day of Dussehra, he got them back. Then Arjuna worshipped the weapons and also the tree.
Ravana is shown having 10 heads and 20 limbs. He symbolizes the negative and evil emotions that are present in humans. Each of his 10 heads symbolizes an emotion that has to be given up. They are lust, greed, anger, pride, hatred, ego, cruelty, selfishness, delusion, and jealousy.
It is believed as per the mythology that King Mahabali asked Ravana to give up his negative emotions. But Ravana refused saying that his negative emotions are important for him and they make him feel complete. It is said that this inability of Ravana to control his negativity and evil side led to his eventual destruction. Through this, Dussehra gives a lesson that emotions and desires should always be controlled and balanced in life.