India is a land of cultural diversity, not just in forms of language, region or lifestyle but also in celebrating festivities. Amidst the other festivals celebrated with zeal and fervour, one of the
most significant yet incognizant remains “Dusshera”.
The story of “ramayana” as well as “mahabharata” is world renowed, being a hindu festival, that is also hailed outside of India. The origination of the word “Dussehra” can be traced from the Sanskrit word “dasha” (ten) and “hara” (defeat). Basically meaning, conquest over the ten headed demon king Ravana. The festival is also known as “Vijayadashami”, marking victory over evil, also expressed as a fortunate day for starting ventures, or initiating journey or business at this time. Dussehra is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Ashvin (Sept-Oct) of the Hindu calendar.
There are also stories, rooting to mythologies that have been commemorated over the years
to justify the auspiciousness of this occasion.
1) Culmination on the 10th day: Goddess Durga waged the war against Mahishasur, king of all asuras that attained blessings of the creator Brahma, through self-mortification not to be killed by any Gods or men, but women. When gods were struck with his reign of terror, they spawned a woman with all of their powers combined to slay the asuras. And thus, Goddess Durga battled nine days and nine nights, after which on the 10th the asura met his end at the hands of Durga. Focusing on the feminist
side of the story, throughout 9 days all the versions of Durga are worshipped and as the celebration culminates with Dussehra, the idol of Durga is immersed in a river or lake.
2) Return of Pandavas: As Pandavas had to spent 12 years in exile, they decided to spent their last year in disguise. Since they did not wanted their true identities to be revealed, they hid their powerful and divine weapons under the Shami Tree. After completing the 12 years, they came back and worshipped Goddess Durga, and along with their weapons set out for the war against Kauravas. Indeed they emerged victorious, and as the event took place in “dashami”, the day was called “Vijayadashami”.
3) Change of season: Dusshera arrives at a time where monsoon comes to an end, and the
arrival of winter is noticeable. During this time, farmers mostly start harvesting kharif crops
and plant rabi crops after 20 days, after which diwali is celebrated.
4) Conversion to Buddhism: The great emperor Ashoka, said to have adopted buddhism
on this day. The conqueror preached about buddhism throughout Indian sub-continent,
and was accountable for spreading the religion far and wide. Dr. Baba Ambedkar also
converted to buddhism on the same day.
5) Durga Puja festival: As a story believed by many, Durga Puja is celebrated
with so much of zest and devotion in north-eastern states, especially in Kolkata throughout
9 days, during which Goddess Durga visits her mother along with her childrens, and
returns on the tenth day to Lord Shiva. Her devotees immerse the idols, so as to
bid her farewell on Dussehra.
As a conclusion to this event, the efficacies of Ravana, along with his brother Kumbhakaran
and his son Meghnada are burnt, to signify the annihilation of evil against good, which is
represented by the ten heads of Ravana. It is also celebrated in neighbouring countries of
Bangladesh and Nepal, along with others it is marked as a National Holiday in Malaysia.
Dussehra is a result of many events, but the core grounds remains to the victory over demon king
Ravana and the end of Mahishasur by the Goddess Durga that preaches concrete principles to be absorbed by the adherents of this festival.