Dussehra - The Triumph of Good over Evil
Vijayadashami, also known as Dussehra, marks the culmination of the ten-day festival of Navaratri, symbolising the triumph of good over evil. This day is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm across India and other parts of South Asia. The word "Vijayadashami" is derived from two Sanskrit words - "Vijaya," meaning victory, and "Dashami," referring to the tenth day of the lunar calendar.
The history of Vijayadashami is deeply rooted in Hindu mythology, particularly the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. One of the most prominent stories associated with this festival is the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. According to the Ramayana, Ravana kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita, and a fierce battle ensued between them. After ten days of intense warfare, Rama, aided by Hanuman and his army, emerged victorious on the tenth day, which is celebrated as Vijayadashami.
In addition to the Ramayana, Vijayadashami is also linked to the Mahabharata. It is believed that Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, hid his weapons in the Shami tree before going into exile. Upon his return, he found his weapons intact and worshipped the tree as a symbol of victory. This tradition continues today, with people exchanging Shami leaves on Vijayadashami as a symbol of the triumph of righteousness.
The festival is not just confined to mythological narratives but extends to the worship of Goddess Durga during Navaratri. The worship of Devi, often referred to as Shakti, is a central aspect of Hinduism, and it takes on special significance during festivals like Navaratri, with Vijayadashami being the pinnacle of these celebrations. Devi represents the divine feminine energy, the cosmic mother, and the creative force that gives life to the universe.
During Navaratri, which spans nine nights, each night is dedicated to a different form of Devi, known as the Navadurga. These forms include Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri. Each form of Devi is associated with specific attributes, symbolising different facets of feminine strength, wisdom, and compassion.
Celebrations during Vijayadashami are diverse and vibrant. In many regions, effigies of Ravana, Meghnad, and Kumbhakarna are burnt to symbolise the destruction of evil. This event, known as "Ravana Dahan," is a spectacle that draws large crowds. The act of burning effigies is not just a ritual but also a representation of the collective resolve to eradicate vices and uphold righteousness.
In India, the Mysore Dussehra is among the most famous celebrations. This 400 year old tradition is a time of great regal pomp where a grand procession is taken out for Goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) and is traditionally presided by the king of Mysore.
Celebrations of Durga Puja in Bengal and beyond culminate on Vijayadashami with the graceful immersion of the divine idol, a symbolic farewell to the goddess and a reflection of the cyclical nature of life and worship.
The significance of Vijayadashami goes beyond religious and mythological aspects. In essence, it is a celebration of victory, not just on the battlefield of mythological tales but in the hearts and minds of individuals striving for a better and more virtuous life. It fosters a sense of unity, joy, and the belief that, ultimately, good will always triumph over evil.
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