Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra is one of the most important & fascinating festivals of India, which is celebrated on the tenth day of the lunar month of Ashwin. The word Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit words “Dasha” & “hara” meaning removing the ten (10). In Sanskrit, ‘Vijaya’ means Victory and ‘Dashami’ means 10th day. Thus ‘Vijaya Dashami’ means victory on the 10th day.
Dussehra is also known as Navaratri, as in the first nine days the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshiped and invoked in different manifestations of her Shakti. The 10th day is in honor of Durga Devi. The basic purpose behind this festival is to worship feminine principle of the Universe in the form of the divine mother to remind the teachings of the Taitareeya Upanishad, “Matru Devo Bhava.”
On the day of Dussehra, statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in the river waters.These statues are made with clay & the Puja is performed with turmeric and other Puja items, which are powerful disinfectants and are mixed in the river waters. This makes water useful for the farmers & yields better crops. Veda Vyasa is considered as the foremost Guru and Vijayadasami is also celebrated as Vyasa puja.
On Dussehra farmers start their new crop season & the work in the field, manufacturers worship their machines, traders worship their books of account, intellectuals worship their Pen, Calculators, Computers and children worship their school books, notebooks and drawing materials.
Dussehra is considered as one of the 3 ½ auspicious days (Shubha Muhurta). It is proven over the years that any new venture started on this day is bound to be successful. Hence in most parts of India, Dussehra day is selected for starting a new business, construction activities (house, building, hospital), taking possession of new house, buying new vehicle, buying gold or booking the first order for the business.
Stories behind the celebration of Dassehra
On this day in the Treta Yug, Shri Ram killed the great demon Ravan. Rama had performed “Chandi Homa” and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana. Durga blessed Rama to kill Ravana. Ravana was defeated in his own kingdom of Lanka by Rama & the vanarsena. Rama with Sita & Laxman returned victorious to his kingdom of Ayodhya on the Ashwin Shukla dashami. This victory of Rama is since then celebrated as “Vijaya Dashami”.
The other legend is that of Durga Devi defeating and killing asura called Mahishasur. Durga as the Consort of Lord Shiva represents two forms of female energy – one mild & protective and the other fierce & destructive. Mahishasur looked like a buffalo, grew very powerful & created havoc on earth. Durga with weapons in her ten hands, riding on a Lion, took on Mahishasur. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashwin shukla paksha, the evil demon Mahishasur was defeated & killed by Durga. This is why Dussehra is the festival of Victory of Good over Bad, God over Devil.
Hence Dussehra is also known as Navaratra or Durgotsava and is a celebration of victory of Goddess Durga. The essence of the Navaratri celebration at the social level is to remind all to respect women, who are the guardians of the family, culture, and national integrity, who take the lead in times of crisis and guide humanity towards the path of social justice, righteousness, equality, love, and divinity.