Indian festivals are the amalgamation of various cultures, ethnicities, and beliefs. Popularly referred to as the collection of entire worlds into a unified whole, the country enjoys a great diversity of traditions. The whole year gets lit up with different shades amid celebrations of multiple festivities. Dussehra is the festival celebrated every year on the Hindu calendar’s 10th month. Its glory exceeds India’s borders and spread to countries like Nepal and Bangladesh. It is also celebrated as Vijay Dashami, marking the win of Goddess Durga over King Mahishasura (The King of demons) after the ninth battle.
Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit ‘Dash Hara’, meaning ‘The defeat of the Sun.’ There is a belief that until Lord Rama did not put Ravana to death, the Sun would not have ever arisen again. One of the significant facts about Dussehra celebrations is the difficulty of putting them in one box as the festivities are different in different regions of the nation. Large-scale fair melas and ever-famous Ram Leela play in North India to the large-scale processions seen in Kullu; it leaves the visitors spellbound. The unity in diversity is the soul of India, highlighted much, even in celebrations.
Owing to rich cultural diversity, India has quite a lot to offer. Even the festivals share distinct stories and unique ways of celebrations, significant to each of them. Let’s look at some of the major Dussehra Facts that are interesting and lesser-known among the masses.
The country’s one of the grandest Dussehra celebrations occur every year in Mysore. It is believed that this tradition dates its origin in the 17th Century to the Mysore palace; beautifully decorated elephants’ processions are taken out in Mysore as Jumbo Savaris. On this auspicious day, Goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped. The statue of the goddess is placed on a beautiful golden palanquin kept on a decorated elephant.
Devastated by the humongous death and destruction brought by the Kalinga war, heartbroken King Ashoka, once a conqueror, adopted Buddhism. This day of conversion coincided with Dussehra, rendering this day sacred for Buddhists. Therefore, this day is also celebrated as Ashoka Dashami in Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur.
It is one of the unknown facts about Dussehra. In South India, in the state of Kerela, Dusshera is an auspicious day for the Ezhuthiniruthu ceremony. On this day, children are introduced to the letters, thus marking the initiation of their education. Kids aged three to five are assisted in writing the mantra ‘Om Hari Ganapathaye Namah’ using the rice grains in a tray. Post this beautiful ceremony, the kids distribute study materials like pencils, slates, notebooks, among others. It instills interest in learning and the art of giving among children at a tender age.
After attaining the knowledge and wisdom, Kautsa, a Rishi Varatantu, wanted to honor his teacher with Guru Dakshina. Much after a great effort of insistence, Rishi Varatantu agreed and told to give him 140 million gold coins. Since Kautsa was not rich, he went to King Raghuraja of Ayodya. On Kautsa’s request for providing him the coins to pay for his Gurudakshina, King wanted to help but was in vain as he did not have that much money. However, the King turned to Lord Indra for help. Lord Indra approached the King of wealth, Lord Kubera, to rain gold coins on the ‘Shanu’ and ‘Apti’ trees in King Raghuram’s Palace. After the rain of gold coins in his kingdom, the King collected all the coins and gave them to Kautsa. The latter realized the count exceeded his requirement, so he insisted King take the extra to which he refused. So, Kautsa distributed the enormous count of extra money he had among the people of Ayodhya. This day of distribution coincided with Dussehra.
On completion of Pandavas’ exile, they went back to retrieve the weapons they hid in Shami tree branches and worshiped them. To mark this occasion, Ayudha puja is performed of weapons and machines. Known as Astra Puja in Northern India, the vehicles and machines are also worshiped on Dussehra as part of the occasion.
Although the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana most recognized occasion of Dussehra, there are many other reasons which give this festival its significance in several other parts of the nation.
In the Southern state of Telangana, this auspicious day is celebrated with the worshipping of Goddess Gauri. The whole pandal is decorated with flowers, and women offer special traditional food to the mighty goddess.
While in Kulasekarapattinam town of Tamil Nadu, the goddess known for her fierce and powerful persona, Goddess Kali, is worshipped.
‘Golu Festival’ is celebrated on Dussehra wherein people decorate their homes with dolls, representing different deities who gave up their power for Goddess Durga and believed to be honored as idols.
In West Bengal, The Goddess Durga beheading the King of demons, Mahishasura statue is highly worshipped. The drum rolls intertwined with the chants of prayers, the whole pandal develops a glorious aura of devotion.