New Delhi: India is recognized across the world as a country of festivals which are celebrated with great fanfare. Every festival in India epitomises the social, cultural and religious aspirations of the people. Every festival brings with it few days of happiness and joy in the life of the people. Dussehra is one of the major Hindu festivals of India. It is celebrated throughout the country with great zeal and religious fervour.
People all over the country participate in the festivities on the occasion in their displaying vast but enchanting cultural diversity of India. Since ages, a number of rituals are performed to seek the blessings of Almighty on the ceremonious occasion. The festival commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over demon king of Lank, Ravana. Apart from the legend from the epic Ramayana, and the story of the triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, a dreadful demon, there are few vibrant stories associated with the festival.
Though there are many myths behind the celebration of Dussehra, the rational of Durga Puja is the defeat of evil elements. In this article, we are presenting interesting legends associated with the celebration of Dussehra.
Triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana
The celebration of Dussehra is rooted in the Hindu epic of Ramayana, according to which, Lord Rama who is considered to have a culmination of all the best qualities that a human being can possess killed the ten-headed demon king of Lanka, Ravana, in Satyug era. Ravana had abducted Rama's wife Sita. Rama, along with his brother Lakshmana, follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys, headed towards Lanka (Ravana's Kingdom) in order to challenge the might of Ravana in a war to rescue Sita. On his way to Lanka, Rama organized Chandi Pooja to seek the blessings of Ma Durga, the Goddess of power and courage.
After seeking her blessings, Lord Rama killed Ravana and freed his wife Sita. Therefore, the day was celebrated to commemorate the victory of Rama over Ravana, which later came to be known as Vijayadashmi or Dussehra. As Lord Rama fought a ten-day battle against Ravana, the day of his victory is called ‘Vijaya Dashmi. Dussehra is the tenth day of Navratri, in the month of Ashwin-Kartik. In spite of all powers that Ravana possessed, it was ultimately the good intentions of Lord Rama that fetched victory. Dussehra symbolizes the conquest of good over evil. It is thus considered as an auspicious day. Even today after burning the effigy of Ravana along with his subordinates Meghanad and Kumbhkarana on the Dusshera celebrations, we simply symbolize the power of goodness and humanity is above all kind of powers.
Assassination Of Mahishasura by Goddess Durga
According to another Hindu mythology, Dussehra also marks the day when Goddess Durga killed the dreadful demon Mahishasura who had the boon of not getting harm with weapons. It is said that all the Gods in Devlok (heaven) and the mankind on earth were upset by the atrocious acts of the undefeatable demon Mahishasura who was blessed by Lord Brahma not to get harmed by any weapon.
Therefore, all the Gods decided to create a power, which would destroy Mahishasura. This gave rise to the creation of Goddess Durga, an avatar of Ma Shakti. Endowed with the weapon given by various Gods, Durga went on to fight against Mahishasura. She defeated the demon, successfully, and restored the swaglok. After ten days long ferocious battle against the demon, Maa Durga killed him. Her victory is celebrated as Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, by devotees.
Kautsa, the young son of Devdatt, a Brahmin, was living in the city of Paithan. After completing education from Rishi Varatantu, he insisted his guru to accept Guru Dakshina (present). Although the guru refused initially, he later asked for 140 million gold coins. Kautsa went to king Raghuraja an ancestor of Lord Rama who was famous for his generosity. But just at that time he had emptied all his coffers on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. He asked Kautsa to give him three-day time. Raghuraja immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra. Indra asked the God of Wealth - Kuber - to create a rain of gold coins near the apati and shanu trees in Raghuraja's city of Ayodhya.
The rain of gold coins began to fall. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, and Kautsa offered the coins to Varatantu Rishi. Guru had asked only 140 millions, so he gave the rest back to Kautsa. After presenting the promised gold coins to his guru, Kautsa distributed the rest of the coins to the needy people of Ayodhya on the day of Ashwin shukla dashami. Since then, people ransack the apati trees for their leaves and present to each other as a symbol of gold, on Dussehra.
Another legend associated with Dusshera finds place in the greatest Hindu epic - Mahabharata. In Dwapar Yuga, after Pandavas lost to Kauravas in the game of gambling (chausar), they had to proceed to 12 years of “Vanwas” (exile to forest) followed by one year of Agyatwas (to live in disguise). After spending the first 12 years in woods, Pandavas hid their weapons in a hole on a “Shami” tree as they were supposed to enter the Kingdom of Virat to complete the last one year of Agyatwas.
After the completion of that year on Vijayadashmi, they took the weapons from the Shami tree, declared their true identity and later defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat’s kingdom. Since then, people hug each other under the shami tree on Dusshera and exchange its leaves. Hence, there is a ritual of worshiping Shami Trees and the weapons on the occasion of Dusshera.