Vijayadashami Dasera

 Vijayadashami/ Dashahara /Dasera

Word Dashahara is derived from Sanskrit words “Dasha” and “hara” meaning removing the ten i.e. to kill 10 headed evil Ravana. The day of the Victory of Shree Ram on Ravana celebrated as a Vijaya Dashami ( Victory 10th Day) or Dhashara etc. This is the most auspicious festival in the Dakshinaayana or in the Southern hemisphere motion of the Sun. Nine days before Dasera, in the nine days of Navratri, all the ten directions are saturated with the female deity's (devi's-Shakti) energy. 'Shakti' has control over creation in all the ten directions (dikbhav), attendants (gan), etc. That is why this day is known as Dashhara, Dasera, Vijayadashami, etc. This is one amongst the three and a half auspicious moments (muhurts) of the year. This falls on the tenth day (dashami) of the bright fortnight of Ashvin. The immersion of the Navratri (female deity) is done on the ninth day (navami) or the tenth day. Four rituals namely crossing the territory (Simollanghan), worship of the Shami tree (Shamipujan), worship of the deity Aparajita (Aparajitapujan) and worship of instruments (Shastrapuja) should be performed on this day. In India harvest season begins at this time and as mother earth is the source of all food the Mother Goddess is invoked to start afresh the new harvest season and to reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil by doing religious performances and rituals which invoke cosmic forces for the rejuvenation of the soil.

The unique thing about Vijayadashami is that every minute of this day is a 'Shubha Muhurat', meaning, the day is entirely auspicious. One does not have to be limited by Rahu Kaalam. The Rahu Kaalam occurs for a period of one and half hours every day, the timing varying each day of the week. Rahu Kalam is considered an inauspicious time to start anything new, so people generally avoid undertaking auspicious activities during this time.

On Vijayadashami day, one is not bound by the limitations of Rahu Kalam and such other influences. One can freely commence whatever they wish to do on this day. This day is also invaluable to the business communities, which start off new.

As per Hindu Religion, Dasara is considered as one of the 3 ½ auspicious days. Hence in most parts of India Dasara is selected for starting a new businesses, construction activities (house, building, hospital), taking possession of new house, buying new vehicle, buying gold, booking the first order for the business etc… As the name, 'Vijayadashami', suggests, this is an auspicious day for beginning anything new, be it academics, art, skill or work. This is the reason why Vijayadashami is also termed as Vidyarambham. "Vidyarambham" is a combination of "vidya" (knowledge) and "arambham" (commencement), thereby literally meaning, "starting the process of acquiring knowledge".

On Dasara farmers start their new crop season and the work in the field, manufacturers worship their machines, traders worship their books of account, intellectuals worship their Pen, Calculators, Computers and children worship their school books, notebooks, drawing material etc...

This festival is celebrated not only in India but in almost all eastern countries like Java, Sumatra, Japan etc... Dasara is Nepal’s national festival.

This festival of victory is preceded by worship of Saraswati the Goddess of Learning and of Durgaa the Goddess of Strength. Grand processions of all Gods and goddesses are taken out in every town and village on this day, signifying the victory of the forces of righteousness over those of wickedness. Various have been the names of the Goddess of Strength - Durgaa, Mahaa Kaali, Mahishasura Mardini etc., under which that supreme protectress of the good and the holy put to rout, time and again, the demoniac forces and established the supremacy of the righteous.

Shree Raama, it is said, worshipped Shami tree before proceeding to Ayodhya. On the same day, the Paandavas too, took out their arms hidden in the Shami tree and revealed their identity after their one year of Ajnaatavaasa (living incognito) after twelve years of exile to a forest. That marked their preparation for the victorious war of Kurukshetra. Invoking these inspiring memories the Shami is worshipped on this day and the holy leaves are distributed by one another as an auspicious omen for the coming year. The following couplet is repeated on the occasion For this day, the place to be is Karnataka, specifically Mysore, for that is where the victory is said to have occurred. The city takes its very name after Mahishasura and has a temple dedicated to him.

There is a specific explanation of Vijayadashami associated with Karnataka. It is attributed to the story in the Mahabharata of the Pandavas' 14-year exile in disguise--which is also likely related to the military tradition of shastra puja. Discretion in exile was indispensable, so the Pandavas stored their many divine and distinctive weapons under a shami tree in Karnataka during the tenth day of Navratri. They prayed to Durga, asking Her to protect their weapons, and returned at the end of one year to find them intact. On that same day, they went forth to defeat their enemies, adding their success to the celebrations of the Goddess' victory. Today people exchange shami leaves and on this auspicious date to wish each other a victorious life. On Vijayadashami, the sacred yellow grass called jayanti (meaning "victory") is harvested. Sanskrit pandits recite mantras while placing jayanti on the head of the devotees for blessings. Elders also offer jayanti to the young. In reverence, devotees carry it on their heads and walk to the local temples or to a river, where they offer it to the Goddess. In temples the jayanti with rice and grass can be knotted up and tied to a devotee's arm. This amulet is called bali, and some keep it for one year as a protective amulet. Legend of Vijaya DashamiRavan, the King of Lanka from the epic Ramayana. On this day, Lord Ram killed the great demon King Ravan, who had abducted his wife Sita to his kingdom. Lord Ram along with his brother Lakshman/Laxman, his greatest devotee Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days.

During this auspicious period, recitations from the great epic of Ramayana are discussed. They are dramatized and known as Ramlila which give a new dimension to these legends. They recreate the situations with music and dance which depict the exploits of Lord Ram. It helps the younger generation to blend in with the old one and they get a glimpse of their rich cultural heritage. Ramlilas are very popular in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Huge idols and effigies of Ravan are made of wood, straws and paper Mache. The audience eagerly awaits for the finale of the Ramlila when the actor enacting the role of Lord Ram uses a bow and a burning arrow and sets fire to the replica of King Ravan. Thus symbolizing the end of evil. In some places, idols of Ravan’s brother Kumbhakarn and his son Meghnath are also burnt. Inside the wooden framework of these idols, are crackers and rockets which burst into mid-air, bringing cheer and happiness to all.It spreads the message that those who lead their lives harnessing negativity, malice and evil will one day perish in the hands of pure-hearted and blessed souls.

Dassera in Mysore city is something that one must see to believe the grandeur of India. The city’s name Mysore is derived from the demon Mahisasura who was killed by Goddess Chamundeshwari. She is none other than Goddess Durga herself. She is known amongst her devotees with thousand different names. The tradition of celebrating Dassera in Mysore was started in 1610 by Raja Wodeyar and it still continues by his descendants. People from all over the world come to see the Dassera procession also known as Jumboo Savan. The procession is like a parade which consists of dancers, jugglers, music bands, festoons and many more. But the main attraction of this procession is the idol of the Goddess which is placed on a golden Mantapa on the top of a decorated elephant.Dassera is also thought as ‘The entry of God’ and is celebrated by decorating the entrance of houses, offices and shops with marigold flowers alternated with mango leaves in a string. It is called Toran. These garlands are seen adorned on vehicles, machineries, books and also tools.

No celebration is complete without good food and sweets. As this festival is celebrated throughout India, each state has its own specialty that is made for this auspicious occasion. Some prepare Malpuas, Kalakand, Angori Rabdi, Kesar Malai Peda and many more. It is up to each person to indulge in the sweet of their choice because at this time of the year, they are all spoilt for choices. 

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