India is a land of many cultures and traditions. One of its very important festivals is the festival of Dussehra or Vijay Dashami. It is celebrated by the whole of Hindu community. As per the Hindu calendar, this festival is celebrated in the month of Ashvin. Dussehra comes during the month of September-October. It is celebrated with great pomp and show. Dussehra is celebrated differently in different parts of the country. It is the festival of glory and splendour. The festival symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
There is a mythological background behind this festival. The dwellers of the Earth and the heaven were troubled and tortured by the notorious demon Mahisasura. Other heavenly Gods were also afraid of him. On their earnest prayer and request, the Goddess Durga was born from fire. As an embodiment of Shakti or strength and valour, Goddess Durga appeared before the demon. The demon was bewitched by her beauty and was killed by her. His death brought relief to the Earth and to heaven. To honour her, Dussehra is celebrated.
The celebration of Dussehra goes on for ten days. In the northern part of India, people celebrate it as Navaratri. People fast for nine days and worship Goddess Durga. On the ninth day of the celebration, they break their fast and indulge in mega feasts. They dance “Garba” or “Dandiya” as a tradition. People wear new clothes and go to fairs. They distribute sweets to each other.
In the eastern part of the country, i.e., West Bengal, Assam and Odessa, Dussehra is celebrated with much fanfare. It is a big celebration and the most important celebration for them. As per the Hindu mythology, after killing Mahisasura, Goddess Durga comes to her father’s house on Earth along with her four children. And she leaves after five days. Clay images of Durga are made along with the images of her children. The effigies are brilliantly decorated. The Goddess has ten hands and she holds different weapons in all her hands including a snake. That depicts her strength and valour. She sits on a lion, which is a holy carrier.
Large Pendals with elaborate decorations, dazzling illumination are erected at several places in cities and also in rural areas. The use of precious metals like gold and silver in huge quantities on the image of Goddess Durga makes this festival grand and golden. Different shops and fairs are set up temporarily around the Puja mandapas. People gather in large numbers in these shops to eat the street food and buy traditional things. Children swarm around the shops to buy balloons and toys.
Durga Puja is celebrated for five days. The entire country celebrates this festival. They wear new clothes on all five days and have mega feasts on all days. All offices, schools and colleges are closed for a few days. Everyone remains in festive spirit for over a week. They relax and enjoy with friends and families. Many get to meet their distant relatives during this festival. Roads, buildings, houses are decorated with colourful lights.
In some parts of the country, people celebrate Dussehra and Ram Lila because they believe that Lord Ram had eliminated Ravan on this very day. Huge effigies of Ravana are made. People enact the Ramayana and at the end of the play, the person who plays the character of Lord Rama burn the effigy.
In the southern part of the country, people celebrate Dussehra by worshipping Lord Rama and Goddess Saraswati along with all metal equipment.
On the tenth day, it is believed that Goddess Durga returns to heaven and with a heavy heart, people bid good bye to her and make holy offerings to her only to welcome her back next year. On the last day, the clay images are immersed in the holy water. People distribute snacks and sweets with each other.
Contribution to the Community
This grand festival for ten days also makes a huge contribution to the economy of the country. So many people are employed during this festival in making pendals, statues, idols, and decorators. The local sweet shops, the local vendors, the priests, the theatre people benefit from this festival. The government also takes care of cleaning the areas before and after the festival.
Even though Dussehra is celebrated differently in different parts of the country, the common theme is the victory of good over evil. It is a very important and auspicious festival for the Hindus.
Q1. What Does the Festival of Dussehra Symbolize?
Ans. Dussehra symbolizes the triumphant of good over evil.
Q2. How is it Celebrated in Different Parts of the Country?
Ans. In the northern part of India, Dussehra is celebrated as Navaratri. In West Bengal, Assam and Odessa, it is celebrated as Durga Puja or Vijaydashami. In the southern part, people worship Lord Rama and Goddess Saraswati. In some parts, Dussehra is celebrated with Ram Lila where the effigy of Ravana is burnt into ashes.
Q3. How Does the Festival of Dussehra Contribute to Our Community?
Ans. This festival is a ten days long festival. So many people get employment in the preparation of the pendals, statues, clay images, and decorators. The local shopkeepers, sweet makers, local vendors, priests, theatre artists are benefited due to the increase in the business.
Q4. Describe the Image of Goddess Durga.
Ans. Goddess Durga signifies the feminine epitome of strength. She has ten hands and each hand holds ten different weapons including a snake. These weapons signify the feminine power and the courage a woman has. The weapons are used against the negative forces. She sits on a lion who is her holy carrier, represents her determination and will power. The Mahisasura underneath her feet represents the destruction of evil forces.