|Ma Durga, the Goddess of Power and the Protector of Good|
Dussehra or Vijyadashmi is celebrated with great pomp and show in entire India. The primary reasons for celebrating the festival may differ from region to region, but the unifying theme is the same, ‘The victory of Good over Evil’. A number of legends are connected to Dusshera, which commemorates the triumph of good over the evil.
Dussehra is mainly associated with the story of Rama based on Ramayana, one of the two great Indian epics set around 1000 BC in India. Lord Rama was the protagonist of the epic, while his wife Sita was its female lead who was abducted by Ravana, ten-headed King of Lanka while they were in exile. Ram performed "chandi-puja" and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana and fought a great battle for ten days along with his brother Lakshman, follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys (vanaras) to rescue his wife Sita. Though Ram was the rightful King to the Throne of Ayodhya, his father King Dashrath was forced by Lord Rama's stepmother Kaikayi to banish him from the kingdom and make her son Bharat the King of Ayodhya. Dussehra celebrates the victory of Rama over Ravana symbolizing the victory of good over evil. This is the reason why effigies of Ravana, Meghnatha, son of Ravana and Kumbhkarna, his brother are burnt on Dussehra, all over northern India.
Apart from this, it also symbolizes the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the demon who held the earth and the swarglok (heaven) with his tyranny and invincible power.
Another legend says,- Kautsa, the young son of Devdatt, a Brahmin, was living in the city of Paithan. After studying under the guidance of Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting a present, or gurudakshina. The guru refused initially, but later asked for 140 million gold coins,one hundred million each for every subject he taught. Soon, Kautsa approached the generous,King Raghu to avail the money.
Within three days the king managed to get a rain of gold coins, near the shami and apatay trees, by requesting the God of Wealth Kuber. Kautsa payed the promised amount to his guru and distributed the rest of the coins among the needy people,on the day of Dussehra. Even hence on the day of Dussehra people loot the leaves of Aptay tree and exchange among themselves as the give and take of gold coins.
A legend associated with the Mahabharata. The Pandavas during their exile period of 12 years of dwelling in the forest, found it necessary to lay aside, the many divine and distinctive weapons that they possessed. These they secreted in a 'Shami' tree in the vicinity of their selected place of residence. At the end of a year, they returned to the spot, found their weaponry intact, and worshipped in gratitude both the Shami tree and the Goddess Durga, presiding deity of strength and victory. On the other hand,the Kauravas had shuffled that area, to locate the Pandavas.
Upon finishing their devotions, the Pandavas made straight to battle, and won the contest comprehensively. The victorious day was hence called as 'Vijaya Dashami"
Nine days preceding Dussehra have been equally divided in Tamil Nadu for worshipping the three Goddesses namely Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity), Saraswati (Goddess of learning and arts) and Durga (Mother Goddess, Shakti). The women and children of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka arrange small statues and dolls, known as 'Bommai Kolu', on artificial steps and decorate the steps and the nearby place with beautiful lamps and flowers. Vijayadashmi is the day when the Bommai Kolu is taken down ceremoniously. Mysore is famous for a gala procession of richly bedecked elephants on the brightly lit streets of the city on Dussehra. Further, this day is considered auspicious for beginning education of a child. “Vidhya Aarambh’ (the beginning of educational life) is observed on Dussehra.
Though the legends may be overwhelming to remember, the essence remains the same, Good over Evil. India, a country of diversity but one soul, celebrates this festival with all its spirit.
Have a blessed Dussehra & live a truthful Life!