Childhood memories are often nostalgic and it becomes more reminiscent when one remembers spending it in the Tapas Bhoomi (Land of Austerity) i.e. India.
In India, the months of October and November are usually filled with a festive mood as all the Hindu festivals fall in these months. Festivities start with Navaratri and end with Bhaiya Dooj.
But, every child waits for are the two major festivals: Dussehra and Diwali. The reason is obvious. In both these festivals, children get new clothes, sweets and not to mention crackers to fire.
When Dussehra is celebrated
Dussehra, also called “Dasara” or “Vijayadashami” is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Ashvina (September–October), the seventh month of the Hindu calendar, with the appearance of the full moon, an event called the “Shukla Paksha” (Bright Fortnight). Dussehra coincides with the culmination of the nine-day Navratri festival and with the tenth day of the Durga Puja festival. For many, it marks the beginning of preparation for Diwali, which occurs 20 days after Dussehra.
What Dussehra symbolizes
Dussehra, marking the triumph of Bhagwan Ram, an avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu, over the 10-headed Sri-Lanka’s demon king Ravana, who abducted Bhagwan Ram’s wife, Sita.
Moreover, the festival’s name is derived from the Sanskrit words Dasha (“ten”) and hara (“defeat”).
Thus, Dusshera symbolizes “The victory of Good over Evil.”
How is Dussehra celebrated?
Dussehra is celebrated with great fervor and fanfare all over India.
In the Northern part of India, the festival celebrates the defeat of Ravana against Rama. It incorporates Ram Lila, a gala theatrical enactment of Rama’s life story. Effigies of Ravana often along with those of Meghnada (Ravana’s son) and Kumbhkarana (Ravana’s brother) are stuffed with firecrackers and set ablaze at night in open fields.
But in other places, it celebrates the killing of a demon, Mahishasura, who is said to have the powers to convert into the form of a buffalo at will, in the hands of Goddess Shakti. The word “Shakti” means “Power” in Sanskrit. Durga Puja in West Bengal is celebrated for the same reason as quoted for Shakti.
One of the most famous celebrations in Dussehra is Durga Puja, which is celebrated in the eastern states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, and Bengal. Although it’s 5 days celebration, the main festivities happen on the last day i.e., Dusshera day which is Visarjan (immersion) of worshiped Maa Durga idols in water. The entire eastern part of India leaps into a festive mood.
In South India, the 10 days of Dussehra celebrations are spectacular. Dolls made of clay are arranged in houses and intricately decorated, usually with a theme. Friends and relatives are invited to the houses and many people sing devotional songs.
Here is a glimpse of how Dusshera is in India’s diverse culture. The celebrations are really unique and rather rare that most of us have ever seen or heard of, from North to South and East to West India
- Kullu Dussehra
- Mysore Dussehra
- Varanasi Dussehra
- Delhi Dussehra
- Almora Dussehra
- Kota Dussehra
- Kolkata Dussehra
- Bastar Dussehra
- Kulasekarapattinam Dussehra
- Coorg Dussehra
1. Kullu Dussehra
Kullu Dussehra has earned a big name among the people looking for exceptional celebrations around the globe. Kullu is one of the best places to visit in Dussehra. The celebrations in Kullu are a little different as they start when the roisterers from all over India head home after 10 day-long festivities. Celebrations in Kullu start on the 10th day and it goes on for a week. Historical Phool Yatra (flower procession), International Folk Festival, Naina-Devi Fair, and Kullu Fair are some of the events which happen during the week-long celebrations. All the Processions and Ramlila start on the 1st day and goes till the burning of effigies of Ravana, Khumbakarna, and Meghnaad is done. Moreover, the Folk performances of Gaddi Shepherds make it one of the most famous Dussehra in India.
2. Mysore Dussehra
The state festival of Karnataka is “Nadahabba” or “Mysore Dussehra” which is famous not only in India but the world over. This is being celebrated for more than 400 years. The region hosts this festival as a celebration of the victory of goddess Chamundeshwari over demon Mahishasura. The 10-day-long festival starts from the first day of Navratri and culminates on the tenth day when the royal procession follows a decorated elephant “Jumbo Savaari “carrying the idol of the worshipped goddess. The lighting of the Mysore palace and the involvement of the royal family are popular attractions during Dussehra in Mysore.
3. Varanasi Dussehra
Kashi or Varanasi or Lord Shiv Nagri is one of the most important religious places for Hindus in India. Kashi is renowned for the “Kashi Vishwanath Temple“. Varanasi is also known for the millions of traditions it has been following for centuries. And among that one tradition is Ramlila. It has been running for more than 200 years. Every year Ramlila takes place for a whole month which starts with the incarnation of Lord Ram and ends with the death of demon king Ravana. The whole festivities take place on the banks of the holy river Ganga in Ramnagar. A special “Aarti” takes place on the ghats. People gather with specific rituals by taking a holy dip in the river, lighting incense, and offering flowers to the river. Also, people sing devotional songs and flow earthen lamps in the river water.
4. Delhi Dussehra
New Delhi, the Political Capital City of India, is also famous for the Dussehra celebration. In New Delhi, the best part is that it can be witnessed anywhere in the entire city. Many committees organize performances across the city at Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra, Lal Qila Maidan, August Park, Madhava’s Park, and many others. However, the main attraction of the celebrations is the Ramlila, notably at the Ramlila Maidan and Red Fort. The plays enact the story of Ramayana across the 10 days and end on the final day with Lord Rama killing demon Ravana. Huge participation of theater actors gets to perform and entertain the crowd can be seen during the Dussehra celebration in India.
5. Almora Dussehra
The Hill State, Uttarakhand too is famous for Dussehra which is celebrated in the city of Almora. Almora celebrates Dussehra with a vengeance. Ramlila is also played on all 9 days of the festival. It is done in form of musical drama and the whole preparations for these 9 days are done 2 months in advance. In the Dussehra celebration, the local community takes revenge upon the demons of Ramayana. They make statues of all the bad characters or demons from Ramayana and parade them. The parade ends in an open area where the statues are burned to ashes. Effigies of the entire Ravana clan are burned down by people. The procession is accompanied by hundreds of people with music bands and decorations, which is a spectacle to behold.
6. Kota Dussehra
The Desert State of Rajasthan is also not behind in Dusshera celebrations. The traditional attractions are clearly visible at the Dussehra fair in Kota held on the Chambal River. The huge fair is accompanied by artisans, cultural performers, and programs that give the feel of the essence of Urbanized-Rural India. An enthralling procession from the Royal Palace to the fairground has animals like horses, camels, and elephants which are well decorated. The villagers from around the city dress up in traditional costumes to offer prayers to the Bhagwan Ram. And obviously, effigies of the demon Ravana are burned to mark the end of the festival.
7. Kolkata Dussehra
The Sundarbans State of West Bengal is quite famous for Durga Puja at this time of the year. Bengal’s Durga Puja is often called “The Mother of all Celebrations”. Lots of decorated pandals (Podium) with the Bengali culture and its glorious ethnicity are well seen in the Dussehra celebration. What is engross is various street food, the dance, and people wearing traditional wear, the outstanding creativity of the decorated pandals, the rich heritage and culture of this part of the eastern region. Durga Puja ends on Dusshera day by the Visarjan (immersion) of Maa Durga idols in water.
8. Bastar Dussehra
In another eastern state of Chhattisgarh, Dusshera celebrations are most unique and spectacular. It is celebrated in the Tin Ore City of Bastar. Dusshera holds great significance in the region and is celebrated by tribal groups. The region’s tribes dressed brightly in traditional attire. Rare rituals that intrigue anyone is a youth buried shoulder-deep in a pit for nine days, a massive chariot pulled by 400 people, and energetic dancing, drumming, and celebrations surround the place. Dussehra in Bastar is dedicated to the local goddess. The most amazing part of this festivity is that it is the longest festival in the world which runs for 75 long days.
9. Kulasekarapattinam Dussehra
In the most southern state of Tamil Nadu, Dusshera is celebrated with big Pom and show. The village of Kulasekarapattinam, located in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu celebrates Dussehra in a very unique way. The Kasai Dussehra festival as it is called is celebrated in the Mutharamman temple, which is about 300 years old and dedicated to Maa Kali. The celebration deems the pilgrims and devotees to dress up in the form of gods and goddesses of their choice. The devotees then channel Maa Kali’s spirit and dance throughout the night. For local Hindus, the Dusshera festival is as auspicious as the story of Ramayana. In the evening the slaying of the demon Mahishasura is done on the beach in the most Vedic ways.
10. Coorg Dussehra
Karnataka another state of southern India is well visited by tourists during the Dusshera festival. Dusshera is joyfully celebrated in Coorg also called Kodagu, a hill station located in Karnataka. It is also called Madikeri Dasara with the 9th and 10th day as the most auspicious and totally take over all levels of celebrations of this more than 100-year-old tradition. The celebrations start with traditional and ritualistic Karaga folk dances. Local artists in a crazy parade, hi-tech mechanical figures of gods, goddesses, and demons, the blast of dance and music through loudspeakers, and the procession runs through the entire town. Most of the rituals are dedicated to Maa Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas. The celebration takes place the entire night of the 9th day to welcome the final 10th day. The whole Preparation for Madikeri Dusshera starts 3 months in advance.
Lesson for Hindus
1. Victory of Good Over Evil
My fellow Hindus, always remember, no matter how powerful is the evil, it will come to an end one day. in the end “Truth, Justice, and Goodness” ONLY prevails.
2. Burn the Seeds of Alienation Inside You
Hindus should learn when the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and Meghnaad are being burnt. This is very symbolic that we should also burn all the qualities which spoil the mind. Ravana has 10 heads and it is said that each head has 1 sin in it. So, we should also burn 10 sins that engulf us. 10 sins are Lust, Anger, Identification, Greed, Pride, Envious / Jealousy, Selfishness, Injustice, Cruelty, and Ego.
3. Truth and Patience Always Reap Fruits
I want to ask Hindus to always remember that “If you are on the side of truth then you will always win”. In today’s evil world, it is that the most justice might be delayed but you will always get it. We should learn from Lord Ram to have patience and ALWAYS stick to the path of Dharma. Cheating someone will NOT lead anywhere. NEVER claim anything which is ethically not ours. NEVER take bribes, DON’T promotes corruption and DON’T be greedy.
4. Destroy Our Ego
There is One big lesson for Hindus to learn from Ravana. Although Ravana was the wisest and learned person in the whole Universe. And with time he became too much egoistic about his powers. He thought that no can defeat him and finally his superego was the cause of his fall. Ravana has many qualities which most of us don’t possess these days. Ravana was one of the greatest devotees of Bhagwan Shiva. He mastered all the four Vedas and Shastras. He was a great Veena player and Master of Astrology and Ayurveda. Ravana conquered all the Nine Astrological Planets. But despite all their qualities, he didn’t conquer his own ego before setting out to conquer the world. Ravana defeated the devatas but he didn’t defeat his own ego. If he had attained inner mastery then he would not have been led astray by his ego. So, keep your ego in check and listen to your inner voice.
5. Never Share the Secrets
My dear Hindus brothers and sisters, remember that “An insider does the maximum damage”. Had Vibhishana didn’t know the secret of Ravana, it would have been very difficult for Bhagwan Ram to defeat him. And, maybe Ravana wouldn’t have met his death.
6. Never Underestimate Common Men Power
Hindu Please stay humble. Ravana always thought that Human Being and Monkeys are too weak to do any harm to him. This is the reason when his wife Mandodri advised him to apologize to Bhagwan Ram, he mockingly calls her an insane woman. Even when he asked boon from Lord Brahma for immortality and protection, he didn’t mention the name of human and asked the Lord that “No heavenly person including Devatas, Deity, Yaksha, Heavenly Spirits, and even Serpents, Wild Beasts, etc. can kill him” but didn’t include Human in his boom. So, this teaches us “Never to be overconfident“.
7. Follow the Path of Dharma
Last but not the least, no matter what conditions are Hindus always “Follow the Path of Dharma”. Although Vibhishana didn’t have all the qualities of Ravana, even then he choose to follow the path of Dharma instead of supporting his illusion brother Ravana. Even today he is appreciated for his wise decision to follow the path of Dharma (righteousness).
Dear Hindus, we all are following the footsteps of Ravana and not Rama these days. We are out to conquer the whole world and sending missions to Mars and other Planets. However, we are not mastering our inner world. Despite all these technological inventions, we are still miserable, sad, and depressed. We have imbibed all 10 sins of Lust, Anger, Identification, Greed, Pride, Jealousy, Selfishness, Injustice, Cruelty, and Ego We want to claim the whole Earth, Water and all-natural resources. However, we forget that birds, animals, and all species created by Bhagwan also have equal rights over the earth as we do. In our greed, we are spoiling our holy rivers of Ganga, Yamuna, and all the natural resources of the earth gifted to us by Lord Ram. The recent Pandemic of Covid has taught us a lot but still, we are far from following the Path of Dharma. So, all my Hindus Brothers and sisters, lets us all on this Dusshera take a vow to follow the "Path of Dharma".
Jai Shree Ram!!!
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