Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami is the tenth and final day of the Navratri festival. It is widely considered symbolic of victory of the good over evil. It is also a pointer of a new beginning.
Vijaya Dasami is celebrated on the tenth day of the Shukla paksha of the Indian month of Ashwin. According to the English calendar, it always falls in the months of September-October.
Spiritual Significance of Vijaya Dasami
It marks the day on which Lord Rama accomplished victory over Ravana, the ten headed demon ruler of Lanka.
This day marks the end of Mahishasur, the king of demons who was killed by Goddess Durga on this day. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga was created by the Gods by integrating their spiritual powers as they wanted to create ‘shakti’ that was ultimatea and formidable and could annihilate Mahishasur.
This day also marks the journey of Goddess Durga back to Kailash after ten days of stay at her parent’s house on Earth. Every year, Mother Durga visits her paternal house along with her four children—Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartikeya and Ganesha. She is also accompanied by two ‘sakhis’ or friends—Jaya and Vijaya.
Vijaya Dashami also marks the victory of the Pandavas over the Kauravas in the epic Mahabharata and the end of their exile.
In India, it is also the beginning of the harvest festival. Vijaya Dasami is also known by different names–
Dashahara, Dussehra, Dashain, Navaratri, Durgotsav, Dasara, Vishwakarma Diwas
Rituals observed on Vijaya Dashami
In Northern parts of India, Vijaya Dashami is celebrated as Ramlila. On this day, large effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and his son Meghnath are burnt in huge fairs in front of large crowds of spectators. These effigies are filled with different types of fire crackers and theatres are held depicting the story of how Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana on this day.
In the Southern India, this day marks the end of Golu—a religious festival (exhibiting dolls /idols of both living and non-living beings including deities, animals, birds and other inanimate features, symbolically showing with reverence to all beings with attitude of Equal-Vision) celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala Goddess Durga is worshipped in the form of Devi Chamundeshwari during this phase.
Also, children are initiated to formal education in schools on this day. This is preceeded by the worship of books on the Navami day. This puja is known as Ayudha puja.
In some areas of Andhra Pradesh, there is an age old custom of giving Shami tree leaves to elders as mark of respect. Other significant events include Theppotsavam—the boat festival that is held during this time in the River Krishna.
In southern states of Kerala and Tamilnadu Vidyarambham is obseved on this day where small children are introduced to formal education by making them write their names on a rice platter with the guidance of an elder member of the family.
In West Bengal (Kolkata) this day is celebrated as the final day of Durga Puja. Idols of Goddess Durga are immersed in the water thus indicating the Goddess’s homeward journey to Kailash.
May GF, Goddess Maha Saraswathi, Mahalakshmi and Durgamataji shower their bountiful and choicest Blessings on you & family on this Vijayadashami day for security, peace, happiness and all abundant auspiciousness.