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The tenth day of the Navaratri festival is known as Dussehra in India.
Vijayadashami also known as Dasara, Dashahara, Dussehra, Dashain (in Nepal), Navratri or Durgotsav is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated in various forms, across Nepal, India and Bangladesh.The name Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit Dasha hara literally means The sun will not rise (Dasha(sun) and Hara(defeat)) referring to Lord Rama victory over the ten headed demon king Ravana. The day also marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demons Mahishasur. The name Dussehra is also derived from Sanskrit Dasha Ahaha Dasharahaha Dasharaha. Ahaha means day. Example Aharnisha is derived from Ahaha nisha. Goddess fought with evils for 9 nights and 10 days. The name Vijayadashami is also derived from the Sanskrit words Vijaya dashami literally meaning the victory on the dashami (Dashmi being the tenth lunar day of the Hindu calendar month). Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated twenty days after Dasara.
As the name suggests Vijayadashmi or Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar which corresponds to September or October of the Gregorian calendar.The first nine days are celebrated as Maha Navratri(Devnagari nine nights ) or Sharada Navratri (the most important Navratri) and culminates on the tenth day as Dasara.In India, the harvest season begins at this time and so the Mother Goddess is invoked to start the new harvest season and reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil. This is done through religious performances and rituals which are thought to invoke cosmic forces that rejuvenate the soil. Many people of the Hindu faith observe through social gatherings and food offerings to the gods at home and in temples throughout India and Nepal.
3. Victory of Lord Rama over Ravana
As per Hindu religion, on this day in the Treta Yug, King Rama, also called Shri Ram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue Sita.The entire narrative is recorded in the epic Ramayana, a Hindu scripture.Rama had performed Chandi Homa and invoked the blessings of Durga, who blessed Rama with secret knowledge of the way to kill Ravana. On the day of Ashvin Shukla Dashami, Rama party found Sita and defeated Ravana. Thus it is termed as Vijaya Dashami. Based on the inferences from Valmiki Ramayana, Kalidas Raghuvans, Tulsidas Ram Charit Manas, and Keshavdas Ram Chandra Yas Chandrika as well as common perception in India, Rama, Sita, and of Lakshmana returned to Ayodhya on the 30th day of Ashvin (19 20 days after Vijayadashmi). To mark the return of Lord Rama, in the evening, the residents of Ayodhya lit their city with millions of earthen lamps (called Deepak). Since then, this day is celebrated in India as Deepawali or Diwali.Many people perform Aditya Homa as a Shanti Yagna and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for 5 days. These Yagna performances are thought to create powerful agents in the atmosphere surrounding the house that will keep the household environment clean and healthy.
4. Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasura
Some of the demons, or Asuras, were very powerful and ambitious and continually tried to defeat the Devas, or Gods, and capture Heaven. One Asura, Mahishasura, in the form of a buffalo, grew very powerful and created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership, the Asuras defeated the Devas. The world was crushed under Mahishasura tyranny, the Devas joined their energies into Shakti, a single mass of incandescent energy, to kill Mahishasura.A very powerful band of lightning emerged from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and a young, beautiful female virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her. This Shakti coalesced to form the goddess Durga. Riding on a lion, who assisted her, Durga fought Mahishasura. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashvin shukla paksha, Mahishasura was defeated and killed by Durga. Hence Dasha Hara is also known as Navratri or Durgotsav and is a celebration of Durga victory. Durga, as Consort of Lord Shiva, represents two forms of female energy one mild and protective and the other fierce and destructive.
5. Homecoming of Durga Maata
Daksha, the Lord of the Earth, and his wife Prasuti, had a daughter called Sati. As a child, Sati started worshipping Lord Shiva as her would be husband. Lord Shiva was pleased with the Sati worship of him and married her. Daksha was against their marriage but could not prevent it. Daksha arranged a yagna to which everyone except Lord Shiva was invited. Sati, feeling ashamed of her father behaviour and shocked by the attitude meted towards her husband, killed herself. Lord Shiva was anguished when he discovered this. He lifted Sati body on his shoulders and started dancing. As the supreme power was dancing with wrath, the world was on the verge of destruction.Then Lord Narayana came forward as a saviour and used his Chakra to cut Sati body into pieces. Those pieces fell from the shoulders of the dancing Shiva and scattered throughout the Indian subcontinent. Shiva was pacified when the last piece fell from his shoulder. Lord Narayana revived Sati. The places where the pieces of Sati fell are known as the Shakti Piths or energy pits. Kalighat in Kolkata, Kamakshya near Guwahati and Vaishnav Devi in Jammu are three of these places.In her next birth, Sati was born as Parvati or Shaila Putri (First form of Durga), the daughter of Himalaya. Lord Narayana asked Shiva to forgive Daksha. Ever since, peace was restored and Durga with her children Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kartikeya, Ganesh and her two sakhis Jaya and Vijaya visit her parents each year during the season of Sharatkal or autumn, when Durga Puja is celebrated.
6. End of Agyatawas of Pandavas
In the age of Dvapara Yuga, Pandavas the five acknowledged sons of Pandu (Sanskrit), by his two wives Kunti and Madri lost to Kauravas in a game of dice, and both spent twelve years of Vanawas, or exile to the forest, followed by one year of Agnyatawas. The brothers hid their weapons in a hole in a Shami tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the final year of Agnyatawas. After that year, on Vijayadashmi, they recovered the weapons, declared their true identities and defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle. Since that day, Shami trees and weapons have been worshipped and the exchange of Shami leaves on Vijayadashmi has been a symbol of good will and victory. This is also called Shami/Jambi Puja.
7. Kautsa Guru Dakshina
Kautsa, the young son of a Brahmin called Devdatt, lived in the city of Paithan. After completing his education with Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting Guru Dakshina, a present. The guru said, Kautsa, to give dakshina in return for learning wisdom is not appropriate. Graduation of the disciple makes the guru happy, and that is the real Guru Dakshina.Kautsa was not satisfied. He still felt it was his duty to give his guru something. The guru said, All right, if you insist on giving me dakshina, then give me 140 million gold coins, 10 million for each of the 14 sciences I have taught you. Kautsa went to King Raghu. Raghuraja was an ancestor of Lord Rama, famous for his generosity. But just at that time he had spent all his money on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. Raghuraja asked Kautsa to return in three days. Raghuraja immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra. Indra summoned Kuber, the god of wealth. Indra told Kuber, Make rain full of gold coins, fall on the Shanu and Aapati trees around Raghuraja city of Ayodhya. The rain of gold coins began to fall. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, and Kautsa hastened to offer the coins to Varatantu Rishi. Guru had asked only 140 millions, so he gave the rest back to Kautsa. Kautsa was not interested in money, considering honour to be more valuable than wealth. He asked the king to take the remaining gold coins back. But the king refused, as kings do not take back the daan (gift).
8. Dussehra Celebrations
Dussehra is the culmination of Navaratis in India. Popularly known as Vijayadashmi, Dussehra is celebrated with great enthusiasm, all over India. It is observed differently in different parts of the country, depending upon the legend that is followed in each region. In North India, Ramlila forms the highlight of Dusshera, while in south India, it is the triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura that is celebrated. Eastern state of West Bengal has its own story connected to the festival, while in Mysore the concept of Shami tree is centered. Learn about the celebrations of Dussehra in different parts of India, by going through the following lines.
9. Dussehra The tenth day of celebration
Navaratri is replete with symbolism about vanquishing evil and wanton nature, and about having reverence for all aspects of life and even for the things and objects that contribute to our wellbeing. The nine days of Navaratri are classified as per the three basic qualities of tamas, rajas and sattva. The first three days are tamas, where the goddess is fierce, like Durga and Kali. The next three days are Lakshmi related gentle but materially oriented goddesses. The last three days are dedicated to Saraswati, which is sattva. It is related to knowledge and enlightenment.
10. Dussehra Puja
Since the celebrations of Dusshera are related to the Hindu mythology, hence the puja performed on Dussehra is performed strictly according to the Hindu traditions and culture. While both men and women can perform the puja, people usually call upon a priest to perform the ritual. After providing him with all the materials required, which may include cow dung, limestone, rice, flowers, kheer and other puja items like dhoop, incense sticks, deep etc., the priest starts performing the Dussehra puja. First, he draws the image of any deity, preferably Lord Ganesh, using the cow dung. Two saucers are made out of the wet cow dung, each used for placing the pooja items such as coins, roli, fruit, jhuwara and roli.The priest chants mantras and performs the pooja by offering flowers and prasad to the deity. Banana, jaggery, rice and radish are generally used to offer as the prasad. When the pooja is over, the priest is offered money (dakshina), while the prasad it offered to the poor. There is a tradition of offering food to the Brahmins of the locality. After attending the Dussehra puja, people start their celebrations of the day. While in north India, they would head towards the nearest Ramlila maidan. In other parts of India, typically in South India, people would indulge in the post Saraswati puja celebrations. In West Bengal, it is the time to take part in Visarjan, the ritual of immersing the idol of Goddess Durga in the nearest water body, such as river or lake.
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