Dussehra is observed on the last day of Navaratri or Durga
puja and it falls on the tenth day of the bright half of
Ashvina (September-October). This Hindu festival is
celebrated all over India to mark the triumph of Lord Rama
over the demon king, Ravana. Dussehra symbolizes the victory
of good over evil. In old days the kings generally marched
their forces on this day against their enemies. During the nine days preceding Dussehra
(the Navratri), Ramlila, an enactment of the life of Lord
Rama which is based on the epic story of the Ramayana, is
staged at various places in most of the cities, towns and
villages in northern India. During its performance the
Ramayana is constantly recited accompanied by music. It
presents a fine blending of music, dance, mime and poetry.
On the tenth day, larger than life
effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnath and his brother
Kumbhakarna, are burned. These effigies are filled
with fireworks. The result is a deafening blast,
enhanced by the shouts of merriment and triumph from
the spectators. By burning the effigies the people
are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus
follow the path of virtue and goodness. Elaborate
and gay processions depicting various scenes of the
Ramayana in the form of tableaus are taken out
through bazaars and main streets.
According to a different legend
attached to this day, the mighty demon Mahishasura
vanquished the gods and their king, Indra. They then
approached the Holy Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and
Shiva, who combined their powers in the form of Divine mother Durga. Equipped with
lethal weapons, riding a ferocious lion, the Goddess
in all her awesome majesty, vanquished the evil.
This day, thus, also celebrates the magnificence and omnipotence of Goddess Durga. So this festival is
also called Vijayadashami which literally means
victory on tenth day.
Mysore, the city of palaces in
Karnataka celebrates the ten day Dussehra in a royal
style. The Mysore Palace is illuminated with a
myriad lights. Majestic, caparisoned elephants lead
a colorful procession through the gaily dressed
streets of the city and a torch light parade and
dance and musical events enliven the tranquil city.
In West Bengal, the festival is called
Durga Pooja and puja pandals have
beautifully decorated images of the goddess Durga and people
gather here in large numbers to enjoy the festivities. The vibrant
festivities last for ten days, of which nine nights are
spent in worship, and on the tenth day, the idols are carried out in
procession for immersion (visarjan) in a river or pond.
In Gujarat, the exuberant Navaratri
celebrations include dancing the lively and fascinating
Garba dance. The men and women dance around an earthen lamp
while singing devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic
clapping of hands and wooden sticks.
In Himachal Pradesh, a week -long fair is
held in the hill town of Kullu, From the little temples in
the hills, deities are brought in elaborate processions to
the mainground in Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning
deity, Raghunathji or Lord Rama.
In Tamil Nadu, the first three days are
dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and
prosperity, the next three days to Saraswati, Goddess of
learning and arts and the last three days to Shakti, Goddess
of might and power. Vijayadashami is an auspicious occasion
for children to commence their education in classical dance
and music, and to pay homage to their teachers.
Some Recipes for Dussehra Dishes :