Dussehra 2019: Origin, significance and celebrations
The various traditions followed during Dussehra shows our country's diversity without losing its core significance
Dussehra has always been associated with the victory of good over evil. Marking the end of the Navratri, Dussehra or Vijayadashami, which falls on October 8, 2019, is the time when the whole country is lit up with colourful lights and revellers dress their festive best, gorge on flavourful sweets and start anew.
Good Vs Bad
Dussehra 2019 festival celebrates the killing Ravana by Lord Rama after an epic battle of Ramayana. Devotees flock to their nearest temple where Ramlila, depicting the events leading upto the battle is staged. The Ramlila, staged at the Ramlila maidan in New Delhi, is the most popular of all. The most symbolic moment of the occasion is said to be the ‘Raavan-dahan’ –where the actor playing the character of Lord Rama shoots a lit arrow targeting the effigy of Ravana laced with fireworks, that lights up the sky. Dussehra is celebrated by each region with their own traditions, customs and rituals, making it a widely celebrated festival in the country. Other than the event in Ramayana, another significance that forms the crux of Durga puja is that Goddess Durga kills the demon Mahishasura in an epic battle that ran for days.
Dussehra is celebrated in different traditions and rituals across the country. Revellers distribute sweets among the neighbourhood and gifts to their friends and family. Apart from the staging of Ramlila, many temples across north India organise recitations of the Ramayana and processions with floats of the deities. The most known ritual is the Durga Puja held in the eastern part of India, especially in the states of West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. The idol is worshipped in huge pandals across the region for the four days running up to Vijayadashami. On the day of the Dussehra festival, the idol is immersed in the river. Women smear vermilion or sindhoor on each others faces following the day's puja in a custom called 'Sindhoor Khela'. In Western India, people wear colourful embellished traditional costumes and dance the night away, playing Garba and dandiya from the first day of Navratri up until the night of Dussehra on devotional songs with energetic beats.
Devotees in the southern part of India dedicate the day to goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning by worshipping their equipment and vehicles in a custom called 'Ayudha Puja'. Students present their books and stationery in temples or in puja rooms of their house and worship them for prosperity. Vijayadashami is considered an auspicious day to start anew. Therefore, people choose this day to inaugurate their new business ventures. In Kerala, parents flock to their nearby temples with their younger children to mark the beginning of their education in a custom known as ‘Vidyarambham.’ Moreover, temples across the region are lit up in the evening with bright-coloured figurines known as ‘golu dolls’ being displayed.
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