Dussehra is one of the major Hindu festivals of India. It is celebrated for Ten days throughout the country with great zeal and enthusiasm. People all over the country participate in the occasion in their own way.
Dussehra is popularly known as Vijayadashmi and is the culmination of Navaratris in India. Each region of the country has its own specialty in the celebrations, depending upon the legend that is followed in each region. In North India, Ramlila forms the highlight of Dusshera. While in south India, it is the triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura that is celebrated. Eastern state of West Bengal has its own story connected to the festival, while in Mysore the concept of Shami tree is centred. The Dusshera of Mysore is very famous in terms of grandeur and splendour.
Legends of Dusshera:
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.
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 Apti 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 Apti 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 meantime, 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.
Dussehra symbolizes the conquest of good over evil. It is thus considered as an auspicious day. Even today after burning the effigy of Ravana along with his subordinates Meghanad and Kumbhkarana on the Dusshera celebrations, we simply symbolize the power of goodness and humanity is above all kind of powers. As Lord Rama fought a battle of ten days with Ravana, who had abducted his wife Sita, the day of his victory is called Vijaya Dashmi, the tenth day of Victory. It is said that this day symbolizes not as the victory of Ram but also the victory of mankind. That is why this day is held in high regard by people who believe that whenever there will be chaos in the society and evil will try to take over humanity, God will appear in a the form of saviour to protect his devotees.
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