Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami or the 10th day, marks the end of the nine-day Navratri festival. According to the Hindu calendar, Dussehra is observed as the victory of Lord Ram over the evil king Ravana. It marks the triumph of good over evil and is a reflection of the rich culture and heritage. This year, Dussehra is celebrated on October 24, Tuesday.
Dasara is also known as Vijayadashami which marks the end of the five-day festivities of Durga Puja. It is believed that Vijayadashami is a day to celebrate the triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon Mahishasura.
The Legend of Dussehra:
At the heart of Dussehra lies the epic tale of Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana. According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Rama, an embodiment of virtue and righteousness, fought a fierce battle against Ravana to rescue his beloved wife, Sita. The ten-headed Ravana, a symbol of evil and arrogance, had abducted Sita and held her captive in Lanka. After a grueling war and the guidance of Lord Hanuman and an army of devoted monkeys, Rama vanquished Ravana on the tenth day, which is celebrated as Dussehra. The victory of Lord Rama signifies the ultimate conquest of good over evil, truth over falsehood, and dharma (righteousness) over adharma (unrighteousness).
The preparations for Dussehra begin days in advance. People engage in extensive cleaning and decorating their homes, markets brim with colorful idols of deities and effigies of Ravana, and communities come together to organize grand events. In some regions, the festival is celebrated for nine consecutive days, known as Navratri, with dedicated prayers and dance forms like Garba and Dandiya. It’s a time for new clothes, feasts, and gifting loved ones.
The Spectacle of Ravana Dahan:
One of the most awaited events of Dussehra is the burning of Ravana’s effigy. Enormous, towering effigies of Ravana, along with his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghnad, are erected in open grounds. As the sun sets, thousands gather to witness the grand spectacle. The symbolic act of setting Ravana on fire is a reminder of the consequences of evil actions and serves as a lesson that wrongdoing ultimately leads to destruction. The fiery spectacle captivates the audience and fills the air with cheers, symbolizing the victory of good.
Dussehra Beyond Religious Boundaries:
While Dussehra has its roots in Hindu mythology, its message transcends religious boundaries. It embodies universal values of morality, righteousness, and the enduring belief that truth and virtue will always conquer falsehood and vice. The festival unites people of diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of community and shared celebration. In a world often divided by differences, Dussehra’s message of unity and righteousness holds immense relevance.
The Modern Relevance:
Today, we face many problems in our lives. We have to make choices about what’s right and what’s wrong. Dussehra teaches us to pick what’s right and to be strong in doing it. It reminds us that we can beat bad things with good actions.
Dussehra is not just a festival; it’s a celebration of values that have endured for millennia. It encourages us to choose the path of virtue over vice and to believe that goodness will always prevail. As the effigies of Ravana are reduced to ashes, it’s a moment of renewal, a chance to cleanse our souls of impurities, and a reminder that light will always dispel darkness. Dussehra is a beautiful tapestry of culture, mythology, and life lessons that continues to enrich the cultural fabric of India and inspire millions to lead a life of righteousness and goodness.