In India, people celebrate Dussehra or Vijayadashmi on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, marking the end of the nine-day Navratri festival. This day also initiates preparations for Diwali, which will be celebrated 20 days after Dussehra in 2023.
What is Dussehra?
Vijayadashami, also called Dussehra, Dasara, or Dashain, is an important Hindu festival celebrated yearly at the End of Navaratri.
History of Dussehra
The festival of Dussehra has its roots in the Hindu epic Ramayana. According to this story, Lord Rama, who is believed to be the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, defeated the ten-headed demon Ravana in ancient times. Ravana had kidnapped Lord Rama’s wife, Sita. Lord Rama, along with his brother Lakshmana and the devoted Hanuman, led an army of monkeys to the kingdom of Lanka (Ravana’s kingdom) to rescue Sita. Before leaving, Lord Rama prayed to Goddess Durga for her blessings, as she symbolizes courage and strength. In the end, Lord Rama succeeded in killing Ravana and triumphing over evil. Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is celebrated to honour this victory.
The Dussehra festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Let’s explore how Dussehra is celebrated in various parts of India:
Northern India – Dussehra Festival
In northern India, Dussehra marks the win of good over bad. People started watching plays about Lord Rama’s life called “Ram Leela” ten days before Dussehra. These plays are put on by both regular folks and professional theatre groups in cities, towns, and the outskirts of northern India. On Dussehra day, they burn large statues of Ravana, Meghnath, and Kumbhakarna at the Ram Leela ground in a festive atmosphere. It’s also customary for many to exchange gifts on Dussehra to celebrate the occasion and spread happiness among their loved ones.
South India – Dussehra Festival
In South India, like Tamil Nadu, Dussehra celebrations start nine days before the main Dussehra day. During this time, these nine special days are all about worshipping three main Hindu gods. The first three days are for Goddess Lakshmi, who stands for wealth and prosperity. The next three days are dedicated to Saraswati, symbolizing knowledge and art. The last three days focus on honouring the Mother Goddess, known as Shakti or Durga.
Eastern India – Dussehra Festival
In Eastern India, Dussehra is a celebration of the goddess Durga’s victory over a powerful demon named Mahishasura, who had taken control of heaven and earth. It is believed that after a long nine-day battle, the goddess defeated and vanquished him. This day is now known as Vijayadashami. On this day, people immerse large idols of Goddess Durga in rivers and seas with great reverence and festivities. In the state of Orissa, this festival is called Vijoja Dashami and marks the end of Sharadiya Durga Puja.
Western India – Dussehra Festival
In Western India, especially in Maharashtra, Dussehra comes with interesting stories beyond just Lord Rama. On Dussehra, people worship the Shami tree and share its leaves as gifts, considering it a sign of good luck. There’s also a belief that the Pandavas from the Mahabharata, after 12 years of exile, retrieved their hidden weapons from beneath a Shami tree on this day. The nine days leading up to Dussehra are celebrated as Navratri. The statues of the Goddess, installed on the first day of Navratri, are immersed in water on Dussehra. So, Dussehra holds multiple meanings in different parts of India’s diverse culture.
Dussehra Wishes – Short Quotes
“Happy Dussehra! May good always triumph over evil in your life.”
“Wishing you a joyous and prosperous Dussehra.”
“Dussehra blessings for you and your family.”
“May this Dussehra bring happiness and success your way.”
“Celebrate the victory of good over evil. Happy Dussehra!”
“Sending warm Dussehra wishes to brighten your day.”
“May the divine blessings of Goddess Durga be with you. Happy Dussehra!”
“Wishing you a Dussehra filled with love and laughter.”
“On this special day, may you find strength and wisdom. Happy Dussehra!”
“May the light of Dussehra guide you to a brighter future.”
Celebrate Dussehra with heartfelt wishes and inspiring messages for your family.
What is the difference between Dussehra and Diwali?
People celebrate Diwali twenty days after Dussehra. Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshman to Ayodhya after they defeated the demon Ravana. The word ‘Dussehra’ has its own meaning. It’s made up of two words, ‘Dus’ which means ten, and ‘Ahara’ which means day. So, Dussehra means the tenth day.
Why Durga Puja is celebrated in Dussehra?
Durga Puja is celebrated to remember Goddess Durga’s victory over the demon Mahishasur, representing the victory of good over evil.
Durga Puja is a significant Hindu festival that honours Goddess Durga. It takes place during the autumn season in the month of Ashwin, as per the Hindu calendar. The celebrations of Durga Puja follow the nine-day Navaratri festival, which starts on the first day of the bright half of the Ashwin month. The main part of Durga Puja begins during the last five days of Navratri, ending on Vijaya Dashami, also known as Dussehra.
Vijayadashami is a vibrant celebration of good triumphing over evil. As we come together to mark this festival, let us remember its values of courage and righteousness. For a deeper exploration of Indian culture, visit the ‘Hidden Mantra‘ website.