Dussehra Date: October 24
Dussehra is a major festival of India and in Nepal, and it is a public holiday.
Dussehra (Dasara) festival is celebrated typically in October. The mode and the fervor vary by a great deal across the subcontinent. Different parts of India celebrate the festival in different ways. Some celebrate it as Navaratri, some as Vijaya-Dashami, and some as Dussehra, in worship of Goddess Durga or celebrating Rama’s victory over Rawana. The celebrations vary from a day to nine days (for Navaratri) to a month (for Mysore Dasara).
The festival of Dussehra is the principle celebration in many parts of the country. It is celebrated with great fanfare in Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Mysore in Karnataka and slightly differently as Durga puja in West Bengal, while in Tamil Nadu, the festival incorporates worship of the goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Shakti. Forms of celebrations can take on a wide variety of manifestations, ranging from worshipping the goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) to exhibiting colorful toys on the day of bombe habba in Karnataka. It is the also the largest festival of Nepal, and celebrated by Hindu and non-Hindu Nepalis alike.
History of Dussehra
Dussehra marks the victory of Ram over the demon king Ravana, and the rescue of his wife Sita. On this day in Satyug, Ram (the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), killed the great demon and king of Lanka, Ravan, who had abducted Ram’s wife Sita. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman, follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle for ten days to rescue his wife Sita.
According to another story, Kautsa, the young son of Devdatt, a Brahmin, was living in the city of Paithan. After studying under the guidance of Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting a present, or gurudakshina. Initially the guru refused but later asked for 140 million gold coins, one hundred million for each of the subjects taught. The obedient student went to the King Raghu to ask for the money, as the king was renowned for his generosity. Within three days the king made the God of Wealth Kuber make a rain of gold coins near the shanu and apati trees. After giving the promised amount to the guru, Kautsa distributed the rest of the coins among the needy on the day of Dussehra. Even today, in Ayodhya, the capital of King Raghu, people loot the leaves of the apati trees and present to each other as sone or gold.
Dussehra Traditions, Customs and Activities
Dussehra is celebrated by many people of Northern India to commemorate this victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. All over northern India this scene of execution of Ravan by Lord Ramachandra is enacted in the form of a dramatic folk play, known as “Ram Lila”, with actors dressed as Rama and the other characters. The word “Ram Lila” actually means the blissful actions of Rama. The festival is celebrated with zest and festivities as it also marks the beginning of the winter season after the long, unbearable, hot summer. In north India, gigantic effigies of the ten-headed Ravana and his brothers are set aflame amidst bursting of crackers. Fairs are usually held on this occasion with lots to eat, buy and enjoy.