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Celebrations Purely Indian: Dussera Part of Navrathri

Updated on March 19, 2018
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Vivian is a retired civil engineer engaged in writing online articles for more than seven years now. He likes to interact with people a lot.

Sun that shall not rise

Come October and you would see India priming and primping itself for a celebration. It means in Sanskrit – the sun will not rise! Of course, people who understand Sanskrit and its import are very few. Culturally, according to old folklore good prevails over evil. One reference is to Lord Rama, who defeats Ravana, the demon king.

Temples are focal points for festivities

Goddess Durga is the primary deity in Dussera festival
Goddess Durga is the primary deity in Dussera festival | Source

Ten-day battle

The second reference is to Goddess Durga who battles and overcomes Mahishasur demons. This goddess is supposed to have battled for 9 nights and 10 days to overcome the demons. Thus we have Dasha (ten) + Ahaha (day). Vijayadashmi has its roots in the same context — Dashmi is tenth lunar day of Hindu month Ashwin.

Festival for planting of Kharif crop

From Northern tip Punjab to Southern tip Tamilnadu, Dussera is celebrated with fervor
From Northern tip Punjab to Southern tip Tamilnadu, Dussera is celebrated with fervor | Source

Celebrate with vim and vigour

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Evil and its denomination

The ten heads of Ravana are supposed to represent the base emotions in man.

a) Mada

b) Loba

c) Moha

d) Amanavta

e) Anyaaya

f) Swartha

g) Ahankara

h) Matsara

i) Krodha

j) Kama Vasana

The second context refers to the Asura Mahishasura, who in the form of a buffalo created havoc on earth. Shakthi then came to form from the mouths of the Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as a very powerful and enchanting woman.

Preparation of sweets for Dussera

Sharing sweets forms a part of the Indian culture
Sharing sweets forms a part of the Indian culture | Source

Pooja and parade

During Dussera, one finds melas and parades, along side poojas and prayer meetings in homes and temples throughout the land. Bonfires are made of effigies and special sweets are prepared. All Government offices remain closed in India. This festival is celebrated with much pomp and forms one of the important pillars of Hindu culture.

Vijayadashmi, the other popular name for Dussera festival, was given immense popularity during the 17th century reign of Mysore kings the Wodeyars.

Significance of this festival

Victory of Ram over Ravana
Fast for nine days
Planting of Kharif crop
Worship of Sami tree
Sharing of sweets
Beginning of studies
Bonfire of Ravana effigies
Arrangement of dolls
Reverence to tools of trade
Importance of Dussera

Light and brightness signify victory

Defeat of evil is celebrated symbolically with sweets and light
Defeat of evil is celebrated symbolically with sweets and light | Source

Importance to health

More importantly, the celebration that extends over 10 days marks the entry of winter months. People acclimatise to this change by fast and prayer.

Rain of gold coins

Lastly, another immensely popular story is that of King Raghuraja who had to give 140 million gold coins to Kautsa, in appreciation of the knowledge he exhibited in the king’s court. King Raghuraja appealed to Lord Kubera who then rained the gold coins from the heavens on Ayodhya.

Dussera celebrations in Jaipur

Link to planting of crops

In some parts of India, people plant barley seeds on the first day of Dussera. On the ninth day, these sprouts are removed and worn behind the ear or in their caps. This is supposed to bring good luck. In Kerala, the last three days of Navrathri is celebrated as Saraswathi Puja commemorating the goddesses Saraswathi. On this day, in Kerala, the festival Vidhyarambham (it means “beginning of learning”) or Ezhithiniruthu (it translates to “sit down to write”) is celebrated. This is the practice of making children begin their learning of Malayalam alphabets by their parents and grandparents. Children write one alphabet in rice or some grain.

In Tamilnadu, this festival sees the worship of the three goddesses, Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Shakthi. People undertake fasting for nine days. They dress up as different gods on each of the nine days and collect money for the temples. They offer flowers to the goddesses.

Kharif crop is planted after Dussera. Planting of Rabi crop occurs after Diwali. Diwali is the prime festival of India. It is referred to as the festival of lamps. However, it is not so extensive as Dussera festival that is celebrated over nine nights and ten days.

Southern states celebration

In the Southern states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu and also in Andhra Pradesh, toy festival Golu is celebrated. Dolls are placed in tiers and people visit each others house to see these dolls. They are given sweets and savories.

Intrinsic cultural link of Dussera to prosperity and tradition

Dussera festival is thus closely associated to culture of India. It marks the planting season in some parts while all over the country, this festival marks the day when education begins for small children. All children in the country mark this day as the day they begin their education.

Ayoodha pooja also takes place at this time. It is the pooja when craftsmen and workers place their tools and implements (writers keep their pens) for pooja. They wait for evil to be destroyed and then at the most auspicious time they conduct rites to have a good beginning for the year.

Dussera candles on display

People fast and pray during this festival
People fast and pray during this festival | Source

Happy days are here again

Thus, this Indian celebration, Dussera marks a turning point in the lives of the intriguing enchanting Indian people. It ushers in peace and prosperity. These ten days also signify end to hard times since evil is destroyed (at least symbolically). Among the beliefs and traditions of Indians, Dussera thereby acquires enormous significance. India is an exciting place to visit on your family vacation.


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  • snerfu profile image

    Vivian Sudhir 3 years ago from Madurai, India

    Yes my friend, I was also following the celebrations and was shocked to learn about the stampeded in the morning.

  • Ahdilarum profile image

    Ahdilarum 3 years ago

    Every year dasara festival will be memorable one. Unfortunately, this year Patna stampede spoilt the festive mood.

  • snerfu profile image

    Vivian Sudhir 3 years ago from Madurai, India

    It is my privilege billybuc. Glad you enjoy it. And thanks for dropping by.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I love articles like this one. It gives me a chance to learn about other cultures that I probably will never visit. Thank you for sharing this information.