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Dussehra / Vijayadahmi is the last day of Navratri; it falls on the 10th day of the waxing moon during the Hindu month of Ashvin (around September or October). is the last day of Navratri; it falls on the 10th day of the waxing moon during the Hindu month of Ashvin (around September or October).

This celebration starts from Navratri and ends with the tenth day festival of “Dussehra”. Navratri and Dussehra is celebrated throughout the country at the same time, with varying rituals, but with great enthusiasm and energy as it marks the end of scorching summer and the start of winter season.

The tenth day after Navratri is called Dussehra, on which number of fairs are organized throughout the northern India, burning effigies of Ravana.It is also called “Vijayadashmi” as this day marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. VijayaDashami is considered to be an auspicious day for the Indian householder, on which he worships, protects and preserves ‘Shakti’ (power). According to Scriptures, by worshipping the ‘Shakti’ on these nine-days the householders attain the threefold power i.e. physical, mental and spiritual, which helps him to progress in life without any difficulty.

Celebrations

At various state’s in India,

Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan in the Kullu valley. Dussehra at Kullu commences on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on ‘Vijaya Dashami’ day itself and continues for seven days. Its history dates back to the 17th century when local King Jagat Singh installed an idol of Raghunath on his throne as a mark of penance. After this, god Raghunath was declared as the ruling deity of the Valley.

Dussehra is celebrated as Golu in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu from Navratri onwards.There is a legend related to the exhibition of toys that is known as “Bombe habba” in Karnataka, “Bommala Koluvu” in Andhra Pradesh and Golu or Kolu in Tamil Nadu. Since the goddess Durga needed tremendous power, all other gods and goddesses transferred their power to her and they all stood still as statues. To respect the self-sacrifice of these deities during the festival days, Hindus revere morities, which are small statues in the shape of particular gods and goddesses. Golu ends on Dasara.

Vijayadashami is also the auspicious day for starting their formal education. Students keep their books and workers their tools for puja on the ninth day of Navratri (Ayudha-Pooja, Saraswathi-Pooja); these are taken back and used after puja on the tenth day (Vijayadasami). The practice is so old that in many parts of south India, even non-Hindus follow this tradition. In 2004, many churches in Kerala formally adopted the same tradition of introducing young children to education on Dasara day.

Vijaya Dashami has great importance in the Telugu household. For life events such as starting a business, or buying a new home or vehicle, rituals take place on this auspicious day. They perform Ayudha Puja where they sanctify vehicles and other new items. In the evenings, a procession is taken up in all major cities where people dress up as characters from the Ramayana and perform stage shows. Huge effigies of Ravana and Kumbhakarna are burned, signifying victory of Lord Rama.

In Karnataka, Ayudha Puja, the ninth day of Dasha-Hara, is celebrated with the worship of implements used in daily life such as computers, books, vehicles, or kitchen tools.The ceremony of Vidyarambham (Vidya means “knowledge” , arambham means “beginning’), a Hindu tradition where children between two and three years old are formally initiated, is held on Vijayadashami.

In Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashvin, which falls in October according to the Shaka Hindu Calendar. On this day, people worship the Aapta tree (Bauhinia variegata) and exchange its leaves (known as golden leaves) as symbol of gold and wish each other a bright prosperous future. The tradition of exchanging aapta leaves refers to Raghuraja, an ancestor of Ramachandra and Kubera. Similar to Ayudh puja in Karnataka, many groups and communities, largely the artisan castes, celebrate the day before Dasha-Hara as Khande navmi when tools of all kinds are given rest and ritually worshiped. In Maharashtra, people also ritually cross the border of their community, in a ceremony known as Simollanghan, which has its roots in the idea that this day is an auspicious one on which to start ventures. In ancient times kings used the feast of Dasha-Hara to cross the frontier and fight against their neighbouring kingdoms. Thus Dasha-Hara also marks the beginning of the war season.

Legends

Victory of Prabhu Ramachandra over Ravana

On this day in the Treta Yug, Rama, also called Shri Ram, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama’s 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.

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’s 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’s victory. Durga, as Consort of Lord Shiva, represents two forms of female energy – one mild and protective and the other fierce and destructive.

Homecoming of Durga Maata

Daksha, the Lord of the Earth, and his wife Menaka, 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’s 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’s behaviour and shocked by the attitude meted towards her husband, killed herself. Lord Shiva was anguished when he discovered this. He lifted Sati’s body on his shoulders and started dancing madly. 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’s body into pieces. Those pieces fell from the shoulders of the dancing Shiva and scattered throughout the world. 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.

End of Agnyatawas of Pandavas

In the age of Dvapara Yuga, Pandavas – the five acknowledged sons of Pandu (Sanskrit: पांडु), 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/Jammi Puja.

Kautsa’s 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’s 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).

Finally Kautsa distributed the gold coins to the people of Ayodhya on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami. In remembrance of this event, there has been a custom of plucking the leaves of the Aapati tree, and then people present these leaves to one another as gold.

To end up the article about this magnificent festival here are beautiful bunch of whishes from me to all,

Khushiyon ka tyohaar,
Pyaar ki bauchaar,
Mithaiyon ki bahar,
Is Dussehra ke shubh din
aapko mile khushiya hazar bar..

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