Dussehra is considered to be the ultimate commemoration of the victory of good over evil according to the Hindu mythology. Although, there are many stories related to Dussehra, the most famous and believed story of Dussehra revolves around the Hindu epic Ramayana. It is believed by the Hindu mythology that Lord Rama who was the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu was sent to a fourteen yearlong exile to the woods along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. During their exile, Sita was abducted by the ten headed demon and the king of Lanka, Ravana. Lord Rama then along with his brother Lakshmana and an entire troop of monkeys lead by Hanuman entered on a battle with Ravana, won over him, killed him and salvaged Sita. Hence, this story of Dussehra is celebrated as the triumph of good over evil.
Dussehra is the day which also marks the end of the Navratri celebrations that is ten days long. The Tenth day of Navaratri is also known as Vijaya- Dasami (Vijaya stands for Victory and Dashami stands for the tenth day in the lunar calendar) in some parts of the country like West Bengal. It is believed that on this day Mahishasura Mardini conquered over the evil powers of the demon Mahishasura. The story of Dussehra thus, witnesses the event of the killing of Mahishasura the demon by Mahishasura Mardini who was one of the incarnations of the Goddess Durga. She had taken birth just for the assassination of Mahishasura who was born with the body of a human and the head of a buffalo and had conquered over the lives of humans on earth and the Deva Loka (kingdom of Gods) as well. The Trinity (powers of three Gods- Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Maheshwar) then joined together to form the Goddess Mahishasura Mardini.
Some important information about Dussehra festival
- Dussehra is celebrated not only in India but also in various parts of the world like Bangladesh and Nepal.
- In west Bengal, Dussehra is known as Vijaya Dasami on which day, the idol of Devi Durga is immersed in the sea marking the end of the ten day long Durga Pooja or Durgotsava.
- Dussehra in Tamil Nadu is called ‘Kolu’ where following various themes, dolls and idols are placed and displayed portraying a story.
- Dussehra the word has been taken from Sanskrit, Dasha(Sun) – Hara(Defeat) which means ‘the sun will not rise’ implying had Lord Rama not defeated Ravana, the sun would not have risen.
- Ram-leela (which is a brief dramatization of the Hindu epic Ramayana lasts for ten days and on the tenth day the person who enacts to be Lord Rama sets the figurine of Ravana made with firecrackers ablaze with an arrow that has fire on its tip) during Navratri was performed only by men in the early times but today even women also participate in it.
- In Malaysia, Dussehra is marked as a holiday.
How is Dussehra celebrated in India?
Dussehra in India is of a great stature for the people of India since it brings prosperity and positivity through the assassination of evil in the form of Ravana. Not only positivity but the festival of Dussehra adds to the festive celebration and zeal all over the country. The effigies or figurines of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghnad made with firecrackers are found almost in every nook and corner of the country of different sizes and shapes. Every citizen of India indulges in the Dussehra celebration regardless of their age. Children are the most excited and delighted with the festival of Dussehra since, there are fairs in every possible ground. The fairs consist of a variety of adventurous rides, toy stalls, food stalls, many other entertaining stuff and off course the ceremony of setting ablaze the evil figurines which every child looks forward to.
While most of the parts of the country celebrate the victory of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana, the state of West Bengal commemorates the victory of the Goddess Durga over the evil power of Mahishasura. On this day, the people of West Bengal bid adieu to their beloved Maa Durga who is believed to go back to her husband(Lord Shiva). The Goddess is given a grand sendoff through the married women putting Sindoor(vermillion) on each other and even to the figurine of the Goddess, then the idol of the Goddess is carried to the sea with everyone dancing to the beats of drums and barrels and then the idol is immersed into the sea with all the people hoping to see her next year again.
Dussehra in India is believed as the epitome of elation since the country is lit with light and brightness. No one goes to work neither to schools or colleges. Although, schools and colleges also celebrate Dussehra through various activities, but that is all done one day before or two. Everyone prefers being with their loved ones and making the most of the day. This is a period when people regardless of their religion indulge in one bustle and that is happiness in the form of celebration.