Indian Festival | Dussehra | Vijayadashmi (2016)

Dussehra | Vijayadashmi Date 2016

Dussehra this year is on 11th October 2016.

About Dussehra Festival

Dussehra is an Indian Hindu festival celebrated in the months of September or October every year. It is one of the major Indian festivals celebrated all over India. Dussehra is also spelt as Dussera, Dasara, Dashahara or Dashera.

The name is derived from the Sanskrit word Dashahara, Dasha meaning ten and Hara meaning conquering, the word in effect meaning, conquering of the ten headed demon King, Ravana.

The demon Ravana was supposed to have ten heads. However, it is thought that the ten heads referred more to the fact that Ravana was highly learned, a great scholar, well versed in the Vedas and Upanishads, rather than his having 10 heads physically.
But even today, when effigies of Ravana are made, they invariably have ten heads.

Dussehra is also called :

  • Vijayadashmi - in North Indian states
  • Durga Puja - In Eastern India with the highest fervor being seen in the state of Bengal
  • Kullu Dussehra - in the state of Himachal Pradesh in North India, celebrated in Kullu valley
  • Mysore Dasara - in the state of Karnataka in South India, celebrated in the city of Mysore
  • Dashain - in Nepal

In fact, Dussehra celebrations are a culmination of the 9 days' Navratri festival. The 10th day is celebrated as Dussehra .
In South India it is called the 10 day Navratri festival.

Source

Burning Of Ravana

Source

Dussehra festival is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. Some of the events that mark the celebrations on this day are :

  • The killing of Ravana by Lord Rama
  • The killing of demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga
  • The end of the exile period of Pandavas and their coming back to their kingdom. Their story is recounted in the epic Mahabharata
  • The day of Goddess Saraswati - the deity of learning and knowledge

Dussehra festival is celebrated with rituals that vary statewise but with equal verve and enthusiasm. On this occasion, worship of Goddess Durga, Ramleela enactments (read about this further down in the hub) and burning of the effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghnath are carried out.

The burning of the effigies is symbolizes the victory of good over evil and exhorts people to kill the bad/evil in them and follow goodness/truth henceforth.

All over the country, huge processions and fairs are organized on this occassion.


Legends Associated With Dussehra Festival

Legend 1

  • Victory of Lord Rama over the demon King Ravana


Lord Rama was the son of King Dashrath, the ruler of Ayodhya. His stepmother wanted her own son Bharat to be crowned as the King. With this in view she managed to persuade King Dashrath, her husband, to send Lord Rama into exile for 14 years. Lord Rama was accompanied by Sita, his wife and Lakshman, his brother during his exile.

While in exile, Soorpanakha, sister of Ravana got enamored with Lord Rama and wanted to marry him. She threatened to kill Sita if her desire was not met. This infuriated Lakshman so much that he cut off her nose.

Seeing this the demon king Ravana abducted Sita. Lord Rama along with his brother Lakshman, his most ardent follower Hanuman, along with Hanuman's army of monkeys fought a long and might battle with Ravana to rescue Sita.
The epic Ramayana narrates this entire episode. Ramayana is one of the Hindu scriptures.

It is believed Lord Rama invoked the blessings of goddess Durga for success in defeating Ravana. This day is also hence called Vijayadashmi meaning victory on the 10th day.

Goddess Durga killing demon Mahishasur
Goddess Durga killing demon Mahishasur | Source

Legend 2

  • Victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura

Demon king Mahishasura was granted a boon that he could not be killed by any male or a weapon having a male name. This made him high and haughty. He started wreaking havoc in Heaven and on Earth. All the gods were scared and approached Lord Vishnu for a solution.

Accordingly, the three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (the creator, the sustainer and the destroyer), joined their energies which erupted in the form of a female, the 10 armed Goddess Durga. She was given their special weapons. Goddess Durga rode a lion during the battle with demon Mahishasura. This battle lasted for 9 days and 9 nights. On the 10th day, Goddess Durga managed to kill the demon.
Therefore, this festival is also called Durgotsav (in Bengal) meaning festival of Durga signifying her victory over demon Mahishasura.


Mysore Dasara Festival Video

Mysore Dasara

This is a state festival of Karnataka state of South India. It is also called 10 days Navratri.

Mysore city has a tradition of celebrating Dussehra festival for over 400 years with royal pomp and show. The tradition was started by the Vijayanagar Kings in the 15th century and was later continued by Raja Wodeyar I. On this occasion,the Mysore palace is illuminated for the entire 10 days of Dasara.

Even today, the descendants of the royal Wodeyar family perform worship and hold a royal durbar (assembly) attended by other members of their clan, special guests invitees, state officials and the general public.

The royal sword is taken out in a procession on the 9th day of Dasara. Horses, elephants and camels form a part of this procession.

On the 10th day, the Vijayadashmi day, the traditional dasara procession is taken out in the city streets. Idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari placed on a golden structure atop an elephant is taken out in a procession.

Mysore Dasara Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Crowds watching the processionMysore Palace illuminated at night.Mysore Dasara procession
Crowds watching the procession
Crowds watching the procession | Source
Mysore Palace illuminated at night.
Mysore Palace illuminated at night. | Source
Mysore Dasara procession
Mysore Dasara procession | Source

Before the procession, the royal couple and other guests offer prayers. Colorful floats, dance groups, musical groups, police bands, musicians, artists and royal guards in their traditional dress form an integral part of this procession that starts off from the Mysore palace and ends at a place called Bannimantap - a distance of about 2.5 miles. Here, the Banni tree is worshipped as a legend is attached to it.

The Pandavas used to hide their weapons in this tree during their forced first year of incognito living in exile. The Banni tree has been traditionally worshipped by kings before undertaking wars, praying for a victory.

Later, a torch light parade is taken out on the grounds of Bannimantap followed by a display of fireworks.

The Exhibition Grounds

Another major feature of these celebrations is the Dasara exhibition that is held on the exhibition grounds opposite the Mysore palace. This was started by King Wodeyar X, to educate his subjects about the developments being undertaken in the state. The exhibition is a 2 month long affair and attracts lots of visitors. The festive atmosphere has stalls selling various household items and eatables.


Kullu Dussehra Festival Video

Kullu Dussehra

The Dussehra festival celebrated in the state of Himachal Pradesh in North India is known as the Kullu festival. The venue is the Dhalpur maidan (ground) in the Kullu vallley.

Here, Dussehra celebrations commence on the Vijayadashmi day and continue for the next 7 days. Started by King Jagat Singh in the 17th century, the idol of Lord Raghunath, the ruling deity of Kullu valley, is worshipped.

This festival is also known as Dashmi in Himachal Pradesh. One basic difference in the Kullu Dussehra celebrations is that in other states the effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkaran are ignited while in Kullu celebrations, 5 animals are sacrificied. These 5 animals are symbolic of the 5 inherent evils in man, that is, lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego.

Kullu Dussehra has no direct relation with Lord Rama or Ravana or even the epic Ramayana. It is about the story of King Jagat singh who while on a pligrimage to Manikaran learnt that a Brahmin Durga Dutt living in the village possessed many precious pearls.

Kullu Dussehra Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kullu Dussehra processionAnother view of Kullu Dussehra processionThe main procession of Kullu Dussehra
Kullu Dussehra procession
Kullu Dussehra procession | Source
Another view of Kullu Dussehra procession
Another view of Kullu Dussehra procession | Source
The main procession of Kullu Dussehra
The main procession of Kullu Dussehra | Source

The greed to acquire these precious pearls made the king send his soldiers to get these pearls.from Durga Dutt. However had only pearls of wisdom and he tried to convince the soldiers and the king that that was indeed the pearls he had. His pleas fell on deaf ears. The king ordered that either he hand over the pearls or else to get ready to be executed. Fearing for his life, Durga Dutt committed suicide but cursed the king before doing so saying " whenever you will sit to eat the rice will appear as worms and water as blood ". After this curse, the king's health began to fail.

On enquiries by the king as to a way to get free of the curse, a holy man suggested that an idol of Lord Raghunath be brought from Ayodhya city and installed here. After this was done, the king slowly started regaining his health.

From that day, the king submitted his life to the service of Lord Raghunath and since then, Dussehra is celebrated with gusto in Kullu albeit differently.

The idol of Lord Raghunath is placed in a chariot and taken out in a procession along with the idols of other Gods. During these 7 days Lord Raghunath's idol is removed from its regular spot in Dhalpur maidan and shifted to another spot across the ground. Big & strong ropes are used to pull the idol bearing chariot. The pulling with ropes is an ancient tradition.

One interesting aspect is that all deities are supposed to attend these Dussehra celebrations at Kullu. The chariot of Lord Raghunath is taken to the banks of the river Beas. There a pile of wood and grass, symbolizing the kingdom of Ravana, is burnt. After this, the ceremonial sacrifice of 5 animals (explained before) is carried out.


Ramleela Photos

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Ramleela playing charactersAn actor dressed for the role of RavanaAn actor dressed as Hanuman
Ramleela playing characters
Ramleela playing characters | Source
An actor dressed for the role of Ravana
An actor dressed for the role of Ravana | Source
An actor dressed as Hanuman
An actor dressed as Hanuman | Source

About Ramleela Performances

Ramleela is a dramatic performance of incidents in the life of Lord Rama. It is performed during the 9 days preceding the Dussehra or Vijayadashmi day. On the 10th day, the battle between Lord Rama & demon Ravana is enacted. It is a theatrical act that is done in the evening.

The actors who portray these legendary characters are ceremoniously taken out in a street procession finally coming to the place or town square where the battle is enacted. This is later followed by the ritual burning of the effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkarna.

The biggest of these effigies is burnt at the Ramleela ground in New Delhi, the capital of India. Performance of Ramleela is believed to have come into existence after saint Tulsidas wrote Ramcharitramanas, a rendition of the life of Lord Rama, in verse.

There are various distinctive presentation styles of Ramleela that developed in different parts of India. They differ in the local dialects but are enacted with the same melodramatic fervor, with couplets from Ramcharitramanas being used as dialogues.

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Dussehra Celebrations - Burning Of Effigies

Malpua Recipe

Dry Fruits Kheer Recipe

© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly

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Comments 18 comments

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Happy Dashain Rajan!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Rajan, Fascinating hub. I loved the video from Mysore with the deity on the (old?) elephant back in the golden sat, gorgeous. It's a riot of colour on the procession but a lot of the people were wearing white, is this traditional?


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

Always lots to absorb with your most interesting hubs. I always come away learning something new and valuable. thanks for sharing as always..Voting UP++++ and sharing.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I've never seen so much killing in one festival. But since the final result is happiness, it's worth celebrating. Are there any special foods associated with this festival, or is it confined to activities? Voting this Up and Interesting.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ Vinaya - Happy Dashain to you my friend.

@ Jools - Glad you liked this hub. No, white is not a traditional color to be worn on dussehra. Thanks for visiting.

@ Carol - I'm happy you like these festival hubs. Gives me a chance too to break away to write other interesting hubs which can offer some insight into Indian festivals. Appreciate your visit and sharing the hub.

@ Aurelio - I've added some recipe videos of sweets made on dussehra. hope you like them. Thanks for your visit and votes.


healthylife2 profile image

healthylife2 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

I really enjoyed learning about the Dusshera festival. I knew absolutely nothing about it and again will show this to my kids since they don't learn it in school. Good winning over evil is always cause for celebration. Where do the stories come from that the traditions are based upon. Is it a source similar to the Bible? Voted up and shared so more people can learn about the holiday.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

healthylife, thanks for all the appreciation and sharing. I like to learn about other cultures as well so I make it a point to share something of Indian culture in my hubs.

Thanks for stopping by


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

An excellent hub and a great explanation of Durga Puja. Durga Puja is great fun, back home. I miss the festive spirit and all the enjoyment with friends and relatives. The recipe videos are very useful. Voted up and shared.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Nithya, Thanks for stopping by and also passing it on.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

fascinating and very interesting to read rajan.


dwachira profile image

dwachira 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

It is a great Festival of celebration that traces back the history of a vast community, I do admire Indians and their respect to culture and traditions. Voted up and shared.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ unknown spy - Thanks Mycee.

@ dwachira - thanks for your feedback. appreciate the read, vote and sharing.


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 4 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

Awesome Writeup! Liking on Facebook.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks, Anamika. Appreciate the like.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Rajan,

This was most interesting learning about these festivals held in your country and their meaning. I like the idea of celebrating good over evil. The costumes are quite elaborate. Gave this 5 stars, up votes and will share. Your hubs are always so informative and I like learning new things, so thank you!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Peggy,

Thanks for visiting and I'm glad you like the information about this Indian festival. I appreciate the comments, sharing and all the votes too. Thank you.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Festival Of The Celebration Of The Victory Of Good Over Evil informative, educational indeed and such an interesting insight of this celebration


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Glad you like the information on Dussehra festival, Devika. Thanks for dropping by.

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