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Dussehra is one of the popular festivals of the Hindus, which is celebrated on the 10th day of the Shukla Paksha in the month of Ashwin. The date of this festival coincides with the 10th day after nine days of Navratri festival. Dussehra celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over demon King Ravana who had kidnapped the former’s wife.
When is Dussehra 2014?
Dussehra is observed during the end of September or beginning of October every year. Dussehra 2014 will be celebrated on Saturday, October 4. On this festive occasion, government offices and banks will observe a holiday as it happens every year. Many business organizations may cut off their working hours or they too may observe a holiday.
Where and how is Dussehra Celebrated?
Read on to know where and how this festival is observed.
Where is the Festival Celebrated?
This festival is observed with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm all throughout India. Delhi and Varanasi are the two places popularly known for their Dussehra celebrations. Mysore in South India is famous for the celebrations during this festive occasion. In West Bengal, this festival coincides with Durga Puja, a famous festival of the Bengali community.
How is the Festival Celebrated?
Celebrations in North India: Dussehra celebrations in North India witness the performances of Ramlila which is considered to be a short version of Ramayana. In Ramlila, scenes from Lord Rama’s life such as his reunion with his brother Bharat and the defeat of Ravana are performed by artists. In addition, the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana to their kingdom Ayodhya at the end of 14 years of exile is also enacted as a drama by artists.
One of the most popular Dussehra celebrations include the burning of effigies of Ravana, Meghnad (Ravana’s son), and Kumbhakarna (Ravana’s brother) in fairs or ‘melas’ organized at huge grounds. In Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, people take out a huge procession with deities mounted on palanquins of various colors and designs. The deities are taken to the ‘maidan’ in Kullu in order to show their respect to Lord Rama or Raghunathji. The Ramlila is a popular attraction of Dussehra celebrations in Kullu Valley.
Celebrations in South India: Dussehra celebrations in South India involve the worship of Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga for three days each, during nine days preceding the festival.
Mysore is known for its procession of caparisoned elephants, which adds to the festivities. The colorful procession of the elephants across the vibrant streets of Mysore is something you’d never want to miss. Dussehra 2014 will witness similar celebrations in Mysore. Like Mysore, cities in Andhra Pradesh too observe this festival. However, the festival in this state is known as Dasara.
A special highlight of the festive celebrations in South India is decorating artificial steps with miniature statues and dolls, colorful flowers and glowing lamps. The statues and dolls are known as 'Bommai Kolu'. These statues and dolls are offered a special kind of ‘prasad’ known as ‘choondal’. It’s a recipe made with chickpeas.
On the day of Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami, the statues and idols are ceremoniously taken down. This is the day for starting one’s education or any form of art. This is known as Vidyarambham. On this day, people worship Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and art. In Karnataka, people worship household items and tools that are used to earn income. This may include worshipping cars as well as laptops.
If you reside in South India or visit the places there in Dussehra 2014, you’ll get to see similar festivities as mentioned here.
Celebrations in West India: In the state of Maharashtra in West India, people consider Dussehra to be an auspicious occasion to start their new venture. They visit their dear ones’ homes and exchange sweets. They worship the Aapta tree and exchange its leaves on this day.
In Maharashtra, the Shami tree is worshipped, as it is under such a tree that the Pandavas had kept their weapons when they had been on exile for 12 years. The Pandavas are said to have taken out the weapons on the day of Dussehra.
Celebrations in East India: Dussehra falls on the date of Vijaya Dashami, the day when Goddess Durga’s idol is immersed in the sea, rivers, or lakes in Eastern India. In Orissa, people celebrate ‘Ravan Podi’ after they participate in the submersion of the idol of Durga. The ‘Ravan Podi’ is all about burning the idol of Ravana.
Other highlights of this festival: Dussehra is celebrated with fireworks and feasts. People make their offerings at temples or perform a puja at their homes. They prefer putting a red tika or spot on the foreheads of their dear ones on this auspicious occasion. People also send their warmest greetings to their dear ones by sending Dussehra cards on this special occasion. You too can convey your special wishes to your loved ones on Dussehra 2014.
What is the History and Significance of Dussehra?
History: Dussehra is related to the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Ramayana is the tale of the greatness of Lord Rama, son of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya. It narrates how Rama defeated and killed Ravana to save his wife Sita who was abducted by the demon king. The story goes like this:
Ravana’s sister Shoorpanakha fell in love with Lakshmana and desired to marry him. But the latter refused and cut off Shoorpanakha's nose. To avenge this act of Lakshmana, Ravana carried off Sita to his kingdom, Lanka. With the help of Hanuman (monkey god) and other monkeys, Rama and Lakshmana fought a battle with Ravana to rescue Sita.
The story of Mahabharata in relation to Dussehra is about the five Pandava brothers who were sent to exile for twelve years and one year of disguise by the Kauravas. This was due to the fact that the Pandavas lost to the Kauravas in gambling. Since they had to spend one year in disguise, therefore, they hid their weapons under a Shami tree to avoid being recognized. It was from this place that the Pandavas retrieved their weapons and fought the battle of Kuruskshetra, thus defeating the Kauravas. Since then, the concept of hugging each other under the Shami tree and exchanging its leaves came into being.
Significance: The festival of Dussehra symbolizes the triumph of goodness over evil. It celebrates not just the victory of Lord Rama but also the triumph of mankind. The burning of the effigies of Ravana is a sign of the power of goodness and destruction of the evil. The Ramlila performances or enactment of the Ram-Ravana war on the streets symbolize the fact that one should follow the truth and dharma to become victorious.
No doubt, Dussehra is celebrated with pomp and grandeur. But one shouldn’t forget the underlying idea behind it - ‘Good overcoming the evil’. So, celebrate the victory of good over evil on Dussehra 2014 and enjoy the festivities all around.