Bhubaneswar, Oct 24: Vijayadashami, also known as Dussehra, is a significant Hindu festival observed on the 10th and final day of the Durga Puja, which falls on October 24 this year. Across India, Hindus celebrate this auspicious day in various ways, each rooted in the overarching theme of the triumph of good over evil. In certain regions, it is commemorated as the day when Goddess Durga vanquished the demon Mahishasur. After nine days of Navratri, the festival culminates with the immersion of Durga's idol. Additionally, it marks the day when King Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, defeated the 10-headed demon Ravana. To commemorate this legend, gigantic effigies of Ravana are set ablaze, symbolizing the eradication of evil. Vijayadashami serves as a timeless reminder that goodness will always prevail over wickedness.
Historical Significance of Vijayadashami:
Vijayadashami, or Dussehra, is associated with several narratives, all sharing the common theme of the victory of righteousness over malevolence. One of the most renowned legends is that of Rama's conquest over Ravana, with this story dating back to around 5114 BC. This celebrated Hindu festival recounts how Lord Rama, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, defeated the ten-headed demon Ravana. Accompanied by his brother Lakshman and the devoted Hanuman, Rama embarked on a journey to Ravana's kingdom to rescue his wife, Sita. During his journey, Rama sought the blessings of Goddess Durga, which ultimately led to his triumph.
The first documented Durga Puja celebrations date back to around 1500 BC in Dinajpur and Malda. These observances often revolve around Goddess Durga's annihilation of the demon Mahishasur.
Timeline of Vijayadashami:
5114 BC: The Story of Rama and Ravana - Many historians consider this the era of the Ramayana, recounting the life of King Rama.
1500 BC: The First Durga Puja Celebration - Landlords in Dinajpur and Malda organized the inaugural formal Durga Puja celebration.
2008: UNESCO Recognition - UNESCO acknowledged the performing arts traditions during Vijayadashami as an "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity."
The way Vijayadashami is celebrated can vary. For some, it marks the culmination of Durga Puja, celebrating Goddess Durga's victory over Mahishasura and the restoration of dharma. For others, it commemorates Lord Rama's victory over Ravana. Traditional observances often include processions to rivers or oceans, during which people carry statues of Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Ganesha, accompanied by chanting and music. Vijayadashami also signals the start of preparations for Diwali, the festival of lights, which occurs twenty days later.
How to Observe Vijayadashami:
Attend a Dussehra Fair: These fairs offer opportunities to enjoy idol displays, sample traditional foods, view handicrafts, and witness performances of "Ram Leela." They frequently conclude with the ceremonial burning of a Ravana effigy, often accompanied by fireworks.
Read the Ramayana: Delve into the epic tale of the life of King Rama, which is available in multiple languages.
Visit a Hindu Temple: Special events are held in temples during Vijayadashami, open to anyone interested.
Enlightening Facts About Vijayadashami:
Idol Immersion Significance: The immersion of the idol on Vijayadashami symbolizes the transition of a deity from formlessness (clay) to form (the idol) and back to formlessness in water, balancing nature and cosmic energy.
Kullu Dussehra: The Kullu Dussehra in Himachal Pradesh is a renowned international festival, attracting around 500,000 participants from across the globe.
Inner Battle: Beyond the external symbolism, Vijayadashami highlights the inner struggle between good and evil that each person faces, encouraging the conquest of inner negativity.
Asoka's Conversion: The formidable conqueror Asoka converted to Buddhism on Vijayadashami, pledging never to wield a weapon again.
Symbolism of Ravana's Ten Heads: Ravana's ten heads represent his knowledge of the six "Shastras" and the four "Vedas," but they are also seen as symbols of the ten human vices that one must metaphorically burn on the path to salvation.
Significance of Vijayadashami:
Celebrating the Victory of Good over Evil: Vijayadashami reaffirms the belief in the ultimate triumph of good over evil and the presence of a divine power that watches over humanity.
A Time for Spiritual Awakening: The story of Rama defeating Ravana is symbolic, with Ravana's ten heads representing ten human vices. Vijayadashami encourages prayer and the endeavor to conquer personal weaknesses.
Auspicious Beginnings: In many regions of southern India, young children are initiated into the process of learning on this day, making it a propitious time to commence new projects and ventures.