Dussehra is a widely celebrated festival of India and is prevalently known as Vijayadashmi. The exuberant and vibrant festivities of Dussehra are celebrated in many different ways across India based on the various regional and cultural legends attached with it, since India is a magical land of diversities. In North India, the day marks the occasion when Lord Rama vanquished the demon King of Lanka to rescue his wife Sita. In East India, especially in West Bengal, the day is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Goddess Durga over a vicious demon named Mahishasura, while in many south Indian states, this scared day is dedicated to the worshipping of Goddess Saraswati, the bestower of knowledge. Go through this expansive article to discover more about the regional significance of this enthralling and enchanting festival.
In Northern India, Dussehra signifies the triumph of good over evil. Ram Leela plays depicting the life of Lord Rama are performed starting ten days before Dussehra celebrations. These are performed by many armature and professional theater groups across cities, villages and suburbs of Northern India. The scenes of the reunion of Lord Rama with his brother Bharat and the final battle with Ravana are greatly reveled in by the audiences that are a vivacious mixture of all age groups. These colorful plays inspire people to live a life of righteousness and teach them to value each relationship in life. On the day of Dussehra, massive effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkaran are burnt in Ram Leela grounds amidst carnival like atmosphere.
In the pristine town of Kullu, placed in the Northern state of Himachal Pradesh, Dussehra holds great significance as during its week-long celebrations, deities from all small and large hill temples are brought down to a flat open ground in Kullu, accompanied by opulent processions to pay homage to the main deity of the place, Raghunathji. This distinct intriguing feature attracts lots of visitors to view these special Dussehra celebrations here.
In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the religious festivities begin nine days ahead of Dussehra. In this region, these nine sacred days are dedicated to the worshipping of three main Goddesses of Hindu religion. Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on the first three days, as she is believed to be the bestower of wealth and prosperity, whereas Saraswati is prayed for the next three days, who is said to be the benedictory of knowledge and arts. The final three days are dedicated to the reverence of Mother Goddess, Shakti, popularly known as Durga. In the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, petite tableaus of miniature figurines and dolls are set up on artificial steps in households, traditionally known as 'Bommai Kolu'.
Besides this, the elders tell various mythological tales to the young ones, sing traditional songs dedicated to Goddesses, and prepare the special dish known as 'choondal' as an offering for the dolls. On the day of Vijayadashmi, following a proper ritualistic ceremony, the Bommai Kolu is taken down. Other than this, Vijayadashmi holds great significance in the southern Indian culture as this day is considered highly auspicious for young children to start their formal education in the field of academics as well as arts, known as vidya aarambh. Thus, Saraswati puja is performed on this day.
In the town of Mysore in Karnataka, Dussehra celebrations are most extravagant. As per the legend prevalent here, it is said that Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon, Mahishasura on this day. The ostentatious Mysore Palace is bedecked like a bride and illuminated with thousands of light bulbs for a whole month pertaining to Dussehra or Dasara, as the festival is known here and in Andhra Pradesh. The grand procession led by caparisoned elephants across Mysore is a major tourist attraction of the region.
In most of eastern region, Dussehra is celebrated to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over a vicious and most powerful demon named Mahishasura, who had become so powerful that along with the earth, he had taken over the heavens. It is believed that after a nine day long bloody battle, the mighty Goddess subdued and vanquished him; hence, the day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi. On this day, the huge idols of Goddess Durga are submerged in rivers or sea with great reverence as well as pomp and show. In the state of Orissa, the festival is known as Vijoya Dashami. The day is celebrated as the culmination of the Sharodiya Durga Puja. On this day, the ritual of Aparajita Puja of the Goddess is performed and then the idol of the Goddess is immersed in water. After this, on the same day, 'Ravan Podi' is celebrated wherein paper and wood statues of the demon Ravana are burnt.
In Maharashtra, Dussehra celebrations are related to various interesting legends besides that of Lord Rama. On the day of Dussehra, Aapta tree is worshipped and gifting its leaves to near and dear ones, along with sweets is considered a good omen. It is also believed that it was on this day that Pandavas of Mahabharata, after completing an exile of 12 years, retrieved their weapons from under a Shami tree, where they had stored them for safekeeping. The nine days preceding Dussehra are celebrated here as Navratri. The idols of Goddess installed on the first day of Navratri are immersed in water on Dussehra. Thus, the festival of Dussehra has multidimensional significance in various regions of the multicultural land of India.
The festival of Dussehra is celebrated with great zeal and fervor across various regions in India.