Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Legends of the Festival Dussehra

India is a land of festivals and each of these colorful festivities of this region epitomizes the aspirations of the people here in terms of culture and religion. Dussehra is one of those beautiful festivals of India which binds the people together in moments of joy and happiness. Dussehra festival is celebrated just after the ‘festival of nine lights’ which is so popularly known as Navratri in India. Dussehra originates from the word "Dasa-Hara", which signifies the cutting off of the ten heads of the evil king Ravan.
As this legendary tale of Dussehra has it, on this very day, Lord Ram, the hero of the epic tale of Ramayana, had defeated the great demon Ravan and killed him. The tenth day after the nine day celebrations of the Navratri festival, Dussehra also happens to fall on the same day as Vijaya Dashami. The Vijayadashami festival marks the end of the festival of Durga Puja in West Bengal when the Goddess Durga and her family of other Gods and Goddesses are bid a tearful farewell by immersing their earthen idols in the holy river of Ganga.

Vijayadashami celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. The festival of Dussehra is also reminiscent of another classic legendary tale. The celebration of Dussehra commemorates the end of the exile days of the Pandava princes and the return to their kingdom. The celebration of this colorful festival is carried out it in a different way in different parts of the country. In Western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh Barley seeds are planted on the first day of the Navratri festival. On the tenth day i.e. on Dussehra, the sprouts of the seed are used as the holy symbol of luck.
In the northern part of India and in some parts of Southern India, the festival of Dussehra is rejoiced by staging dramas of Ram’s victory over Ravan, traditionally known as Ramleela. This ancient way of celebrating Dussehra is brought to a joyful end by burning the giant effigies of Ravan. Dussehra is better known as Dasara in Mysore and this extravagant festival is celebrated by holding a grand procession carrying the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari on an elephant-mounted golden throne. 

In Karnataka, the festival is celebrated by worshiping the everyday items like books, computers, machinery, vehicles, kitchen items, agricultural tools and others. In Andhra Pradesh, huge effigies of Kumbhkarn and Ravan are burned to celebrate the triumph of Lord Ram. The celebration of Dasha-Hara in Madikeri ages back to more than 100 years down the lanes of history.

On this occasion, follows the glorious procession of ten mandapas from the ten different temples. The day ends by burning the effigies of Kumbhkarn, Ravan and Meghnad. In Maharashtra the ritual is known as Seemollanghan when people cross their village or town border. Thus, Dussehra in every part of India is celebrated with great pomp and splendor and no matter what the reason, at the end of the day this wonderful Indian festival gives out one special message which says - ‘the good always shines over evil’.

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