Dussehra-Dasara Festival Story and its Significance
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Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami or Dasara is an important Hindu festival and celebrated in most parts of India. There are two important stories behind celebration of Dussehra festival in Indian. One story is associated with Lord Ram and another is associated with Goddess Durga. The festival of Dussehra signifies the victory of good over evil. Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami or Dasara is marked on the 10th day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the month of Ashvin (Ashwayuja), according to the Hindu calendar.
Word DASARA is derived from Sanskrit words “Dasha” & “hara” meaning removing the ten (10). This is the most auspicious festival in the Dakshinaayana or in the Southern hemisphere motion of the Sun. In Sanskrit, ‘Vijaya’ means Victory and ‘Dashami’ means 10th day. ‘Thus Vijaya Dashami’ means victory on the 10th day.
Dussehra-Vijaya Dashami-Dasara Festival History:
Triumph Of Lord Rama Over Ravana
The celebration of Dussehra is rooted in the Hindu epic of Ramayana, according to which, Lord Rama, the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu, killed the ten-headed demon Ravana, in Satyug. Ravan had abducted Rama’s wife Sita. Rama, along with his brother Lakshmana, follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys, headed towards Lanka (Ravana’s Kingdom) in order to enter a war with Ravana and rescue Sita. On his way to Lanka, Rama organized Chandi Pooja to seek the blessings of Ma Durga, the Goddess of power and courage. After seeking her blessings, Lord Rama defeated and killed Ravana, with the help of his fellow beings. Therefore, the day was celebrated to commemorate the victory of Rama over Ravana, which later came to be known as Vijayadashmi or Dussehra.
Assassination Of Mahishasura By Goddess Durga
Another legend is connected to Goddess Durga. According to the story, all the Gods in swarglok and the living beings on earth were upset by the tyranny of the demon Mahishasura, because he had acquired invincible power to conquer the world. He was undefeatable, even by the mighty deities – Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Therefore, all the Gods decided to create a power, which would destroy Mahishasura, freed the living beings from his despotism and restore the swaglok to them. This gave rise to the creation of Goddess Durga, an avatar of Ma Shakti. With the weapons given to her by the Gods, Goddess Durga went to fight against Mahishasura. She defeated the demon, successfully, and restored the swaglok to the Gods, as promised. Her victory is celebrated as Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, by many people following Hinduism.
Rain Of Gold Coins
According to a story, Kautsa, the young son of Devdatta (a Brahmin), was residing in the city of Paithan. After pursuing his education under the guidance of Rishi Varatantu, he wanted to offer a dakshina to his Guru. Although the guru refused initially, he later asked for 140 million gold coins. The student approached King Raghu for the coins, because he was renowned for his generosity. Within three days of the student’s request, King Raghu asked the God of Wealth – Kuber – to create a rain of gold coins near the apati and shanu trees. After presenting the promised gold coins to his guru, Kautsa distributed the rest of the coins to the needy, on the day of Dussehra. Since then, people loot the leaves of apati trees and present to each other as a symbol of gold, on Dussehra.
Another legend connected to the origin of Dusshera finds place in the greatest Hindu epic – Mahabharata. According to a story, Pandavas where banished by Kauravas for 12 years and 1 year of disguise, because the former were defeated in gambling (chausar) by the latter. Subsequently, Pandavas decided to spend their first 12 years of exile in the woods and the last year in disguise. Since they were asked to remain incognito during that period, Pandavas did not want to be exposed to others. Therefore, they lay aside their divine and powerful weapons during the exile. They concealed their weapons under the shami tree, situated close to the place of their residence. At the end of every year of the exile, Pandavas came to the shami tree to check whether their weapons were there.
Whenever Pandavas approached the tree, they worshipped it and Goddess Durga, the presiding deity. In the mean time, Kauravas were making every attempt to trace Pandavas, so that they could extend the exile time, because it was said that if they were found, they would have to spend another 12 years in the woods. However, the Kauravas could find the Pandavas only past the stipulated time. Subsequently, the Pandavas went to the shami tree, fetched their concealed weapons and went straight to the battle field to fight the Kauravas. Pandavas emerged victorious. The event took place in dasami and since good had achieved victory over the evil, it came to be known as Vijayadashmi. Since then, people hug each other under the shami tree and exchange its leaves.
How Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami or Dasara is celebrated:
Dassera day is considered a most auspicious day. It is a time-honored belief that if any new venture is started on this day, it brings success. Hence, all the undertakings be it laying-in of foundation of a new building, opening of a new commercial establishment or even initiating a child into the world of learning- are started on this day. Houses and shops are decorated with flower studded strings called ‘Torans’ (Floral Gateways) Also on this day vehicles, machineries, books, weapons & also tools are worshipped.
In South India, the days of Navratri are equally divided to worship three Goddesses, Lakhmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Saraswati, Goddess of knowledge and learning and Durga, goddess of power and strength. They decorate their houses and steps with lamps and flowers in the evenings.
What Rituals are Perfrormed During Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami or Dasara:
Dussehra is considered to be an auspicious time to worship tools used to earn an income. Nowadays, this includes laptops and cars! According to the legend in the epic Mahabharata, Arjuna hid his weapons in a tree and when he returned a year later, on the day of Dussehra, he safely retrieved them. He then worshiped the weapons, along with the tree.