In India, Dussehra is one of the most important festivals.
There are two important stories behind Dussehra celebrations in India.
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 is the tenth day in a series of celebrations spanning over ten days during the auspicious occasion of Navratras. Many of the Hindu festivals are related to great epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata and Dussehra is one of the main ones. In fact it is believed that the war between Rama and Ravana went on during these 10 days and Ravana was killed by the hands of Bhagwan Ram on the tenth day.
Another name of Dussehra is Vijayadashami and is celebrated as a result of the victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasura. The festival of Dussehra generally falls in the month of September or October of the English calendar. What we can learn from this festival is victory of good over evil and success of truth over lies.
Importance of Dussehra Festival
According to the great Hindu epic Ramayana, the following series of events happened:
Ravana, a demon, was the evil king of Lanka. Although a very knowledgeable man, he is said to have abducted Ram’s wife, Sita. As a result, Lord Rama’s army consisting primarily of apes crossed over Indian ocean over to Lanka. The war ensued between Lord Rama’s army and Ravan’s army and lasted for almost 10 days. Lord Rama killed Ravana on the tenth day which is celebrated as Dussehra. It is celebrated to symbolize the triumph of good over evil.
Throughout Navratri, Ramlila is organised in many parts of the country and people enjoy the enactment of the play based on Ramayana.
The festival of Dussehra is also known as Durga Pooja and in eastern part of India people worship Goddess Durga all the nine days and celebrate Dussehra as it was on that day that the demon Mahishasura was killed by the Goddess.
Dussehra celebrations in Different Parts of India
Here is how Dussehra is celebrated in different parts of India.
In North India, usually people celebrate Dussehra by burning the effigy of three evil brothers – Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath and it is the commencement of the play based on the epic, Ramayana. It is the final day and there is usually a fete organised and enjoyed by people. A chariot carrying Ram, Sita and Lakshman (Lord Ram’s beloved brother) passes through the crowd and the person enacting Ram aims an arrow to burn the effigies one by one.
In Gujarat, men and women gather and dance every night of the Navratri and a lot of competitions and shows are organized on this occasion. The songs are usually devotional ones and the dance form is called Garba. Women in their best of attires surround beautifully decorated earthen pots and dance till late night. In many places Garba starts late at night and continue till dawn.
In South India, the days of Navratri are equally divided to worship three Goddesses, Lakshmi, 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. Dussehra festival of Mysore is well known and is celebrated in its own style with pomp and pageantry.
There are many other stories associated with the festival of Dussehra. No matter what the stories are, festivals in India convey the message of benevolence, peace and love. If the people kept in mind the beautiful and meaningful messages throughout the year, it would have been peace and harmony all around.
However, in India festivals are celebrated by all Indians, regardless of being a Hindu or belonging to any other religion. There is a spirit of brotherhood seen during festival seasons.