Dashara, derived from the Sanskrit Dasha-hara meaning “remover of bad fate”, is among the most important festivals celebrated in India. Regional spellings include Dashera, Dussera and Dussehra.In the months of Ashwin and Kartik, Hindus observe a 10 day ceremony of fast, rituals and celebrations to honor the triumph of Lord Rama over Demon Ravana. Dussehra also symbolizes the triumph of warrior Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Thus, it is a celebration of victory of good over evil. The tenth day after Navratri is called Dussehra, on which number of fairs are organized throughout northern India, burning effigies of Ravana. It is also called “Vijaya Dashami” or “Vijayadasami” as this day marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.
Specifically, it may refer to:
in South India, the ten-day festival of Navratri as a whole
in Mysore, Mysore Dasara
in Madikeri, Madikeri Dasara
in Nepal, Dashain
in North India, the tenth day of the festival, Vijayadashami
in Himachal Pradesh, a seven-day festival starting on that day, Kullu Dussehra.
It is also referred to as Navratri and Durgotsav.
Dasara is celebrated on the tenth day of the Hindu autumn lunar month of Ashvin, or Ashwayuja which falls in September or October of the Western calendar, from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada, or the day after the new moon which falls in Bhadrapada, to the Dashami, or the tenth day of Ashvin. The first nine days are celebrated as Maha Navratri(Sanskrit: नवरात्रि, ‘nine nights’) or Sharada Navratri (the most important Navratri) and culminates on the tenth day as Dasara.
On this day in the Treta Yug, Rama, also called Shri Ram, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama’s wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue Sita. The entire narrative is recorded in the epic Ramayana, a Hindu scripture.
Rama had performed “Chandi Homa” and invoked the blessings of Durga, who blessed Rama with secret knowledge of the way to kill Ravana. On the day of Ashvin Shukla Dashami, Rama’s party found Sita and defeated Ravana. Thus it is termed as Vijaya Dashami.
Many people perform “Aditya Homa” as a “Shanti Yagna” and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for nine days. These Yagna performances are thought to create powerful agents in the atmosphere surrounding the house that will keep the household environment clean and healthy. These rituals are intended to rid the household of the ten bad qualities, which are represented by 10 heads of Ravana as follows:
- Kama vasana (Lust)
- Krodha (Anger)
- Moha (Delusion)
- Lobha (Greed)
- Mada (Over Pride)
- Matsara (Jealousy)
- Manas (Mind)
- Buddhi (Intellect)
- Chitta (Will)
- Ahankara (Ego).
Some householders perform Yagnas thrice daily along with Sandhya Vandana, which is also called Aahavaneeya Agni, Grahapatya Agni or Dakshina Agni. In addition, the Aditya Homa is performed with the Maha Surya Mantras and the Aruna Prapathaka of the Yajurveda. These mantras are believed to keep the heart, brain and digestive functions in balance in the absence of adequate sunlight in the winter months.
Some of the demons, or Asuras, were very powerful and ambitious and continually tried to defeat the Devas, or Gods, and capture Heaven. One Asura, Mahishasura, in the form of a buffalo, grew very powerful and created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership, the Asuras defeated the Devas. The world was crushed under Mahishasura’s tyranny, the Devas joined their energies into Shakti, a single mass of incandescent energy, to kill Mahishasura.
A very powerful band of lightning emerged from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and a young, beautiful female virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her. This Shakti coalesced to form the goddess Durga. Riding on a lion, who assisted her, Durga fought Mahishasura. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashvin shukla paksha, Mahishasura was defeated and killed by Durga.
Hence Dasha-Hara is also known as Navratri or Durgotsav and is a celebration of Durga’s victory. Durga, as Consort of Lord Shiva, represents two forms of female energy – one mild and protective and the other fierce and destructive.
Daksha, the Lord of the Earth, and his wife Prasuti, had a daughter called Sati. As a child, Sati started worshipping Lord Shiva as her would-be-husband. Lord Shiva was pleased with the Sati’s worship of him and married her. Daksha was against their marriage but could not prevent it. Daksha arranged a yagna to which everyone except Lord Shiva was invited. Sati, feeling ashamed of her father’s behaviour and shocked by the attitude meted towards her husband, killed herself. Lord Shiva was anguished when he discovered this. He lifted Sati’s body on his shoulders and started dancing madly. As the supreme power was dancing with wrath, the world was on the verge of destruction.
Then Lord Narayana came forward as a saviour and used his Chakra to cut Sati’s body into pieces. Those pieces fell from the shoulders of the dancing Shiva and scattered throughout the world. Shiva was pacified when the last piece fell from his shoulder. Lord Narayana revived Sati. The places where the pieces of Sati fell are known as the “Shakti Piths” or energy pits. Kalighat in Kolkata, Kamakshya near Guwahati and Vaishnav Devi in Jammu are three of these places.
In her next birth, Sati was born as Parvati or Shaila-Putri (First form of Durga), the daughter of Himalaya. Lord Narayana asked Shiva to forgive Daksha. Ever since, peace was restored and Durga with her children Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kartikeya, Ganesh and her two sakhis – Jaya and Vijaya visit her parents each year during the season of Sharatkal or autumn, when Durga-Puja is celebrated.
Significance of Durga Ashtami
Durgashtami, or Durga Ashtami, is the eight day of the Navaratri and Durga Puja celebrations. Durgastami is also known as Mahashtami and is one of the important days of Durga Puja and a fasting is undertaken by many people. Weapons of Goddess Durga are worshipped on the day and it is known Astra Puja. The day is also known as Virashtami as there are displays using arms or martial arts. It is one of the most important day for Goddess Worship in Hindu religion.
There is also a belief in some regions that Goddess Kali appeared from the forehead of Durga on this day to annihilate Chanda and Munda and Rakthabija. During the Durga Puja rituals on Mahashtami day the 64 Yoginis and Ashtanayikas – the eight consorts – of Durga are also worshipped. The eight consorts of Durga, also known as Eight Shaktis, are interpreted differently in different regions of India. But ultimately all the eight goddesses are incarnations of Shakti with different aims.
Sometimes they are also an attempt to give form to a particular aspect of Shakti. The Ashtanayikas that are worshipped during Durga Puja are Brahmani, Maheswari, Kameswari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda. Numerous minor deities including many attendants and guards of Durga are worshipped on the day.
The 8th incarnation of Goddess Durga is called Maha Gauri. On Ashtami, Maha Gauri is worshipped. She does the welfare of all her devotees. All their issues are solved. Maa is said to give effectual results. It is said about Goddess Durga that she rides lion. She crowned with moon on her head. She is Kantiwali and has four arms. She has shell, Chakra, bow and arrow in her four arms. She has three eyes. She wears an armlet, necklace, bangle, anklet etc, and she has earrings with gemstones. Goddess Durga is the destroyer of the evil. The 9 Durga are the symbol of the 9 power.She 9 incarnation are worshipped during the Navratri. These goddesses are the symbol of Brahmacharya, awareness, sacrifice, simplicity, knowledge, fearlessness, patience and sense of service.
meaning of the word ‘Durga’
Once there lived a gaint named Durgam in India. Everyone living on earth, heaven and hell were terrified by his cruel acts. Then, Goddess took the Avtar of Durga or Durgseni and killed that monster. She saved the life of devotees and Brahmans. By killing the monster Durgam , she go famous as Durga. The word “Durga” in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of “Durga” is “Durgatinashini,” which literally translates into “the one who eliminates sufferings.” Thus, Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.s on rice filled in a tray. From now on they can start reading and writing.
Significance of Durga Navmi
Ninth day of Navratri is known as Maha Navami Durga Puja. Mahanavami is the last day of Navratri which concludes with SAraswati Visarjan or Saraswati Udyapan. It is also culminates Devi Triratra vrata (3-day or 3-night Devi vrata). Mahishasura Mardhini Puja is observed on Mahanavami. Goddess Durga is decorated and worshipped in the form of Mahishasuramardhini alankaram. The last and ninth Navadurga Goddess Siddhidhatri Puja is performed by Navadurga Shakteya sampradaaya people. Matangi Dasamahavidya is worshipped on Mahanavami as a part of Dasamahavidya puja in Navratri. Mukteshwari is the Goddess to worship on ninth day of Navratri as part of Saptamatrika and Ashtamatrika puja. Suvasini Puja, Kanya Puja, Dampati Puja, etc. are observed on Mahanavami day in Navratri. In some places of Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, Bathukamma festival is celebrated. Kanya Puja, also known as Kumari Pooja or Kanjak Pooja, is the main ritual observed on Mahanavami during Durga Navratri.
The Kanya Kumari is named according to her age:
1 year – Sandhya,
2 years – Saraswati,
3 years – Tridhamurthi,
4 years – Kalika,
5 years – Subhaga,
6 years – Uma,
7 years – Malini,
8 years – Kuvjika,
9 years – Kalasandarbha,
10 years – Aparajita,
11 years – Rudrani,
12 years – Bhairavi and
13 years – Mahalaxmi.
Kanya Puja is a main ritual of Mahanavami in Bengal during Durga Pooja.
Goddess Durga is worshipped in nine avatars during Navratri. Some of the forms appear in Kumari or Kanya form of the Goddess like Bala Tripura Sundari and some other manifestations of Navadurga.
Here is the list of Kanya puja, Kanyakas and their age:
2- year old Kanya – Kumari
3-year old – Trimurthi
4-year old – Kalyani
5-years old – Rohini
6-year old – Kalika
7-year old – Chandika
8-year old – Shambhavi
9-year old – Durga
10-year old – Subhadra
Significance of Durga Dashmi/ Vijayadashmi
Dussehra is the tenth and final day of Durga Puja in Bengal and the rest of East, Navratri in North and West India and ; culmination of Ramlila in some parts of India and Madikeri Dasara in many parts of Southern India. Also known as Vijayadashami, Dussehra, commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over the ten headed demon king Ravana. Vijayadhasami is next day of Saraswathi Pooja…! So saraswathi is a education god..! After the pooja & prayer..! Parents are rush to schools for admission on that day…! Its a faith….! They believe them children will become a very shine and saraswathi devi will be with them children….! This is the significance of vijayadasami day.
In Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it is traditional to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navratri. On the day of Dasara, the nine-day old sprouts (called noratras or nortas or of nav ratris or nine nights) are used as symbols of luck. Men place them in their caps or behind their ears. In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, the Dasara festival starts with the performance of Ramlila which is unique as it is based on the musical rendering of the katha or story of Lord Rama. In Karnataka, Ayudha Puja, on the ninth day of Dasha-Hara, is celebrated with the worship of implements used in daily life such as computers, books, vehicles, or kitchen tools. Buses, trucks and machines in factories are decorated. In Kerala The last three days of the Navratri festival, i.e. Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami are celebrated as Saraswati Puja. In Tamil Nadu, the festival incorporates worship of the goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Shakti. In Kulasekarapatnam located 20 km from Tiruchendur (Thoothukudi Dist), Dasara festival is celebrated very uniquely. In Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashvin (which falls in October) according to the Shaka Hindu Calendar. Vijoya Dashami or Dussehra is celebrated as Durga Puja in two different ways in Orissa. In Bengal, Dussehra is celebrated as Durga Puja. Deities of the goddess Durga are worshipped for five days, and on the fifth day (Vijaya Dashami) immersed in a river or pond. This is referred as Durga Bisarjan/Bhashaan. In Bihar,Bengal, Assam and Orissa, the goddess Kali, an appellation of Durga, is also worshipped as a symbol of Shakti (Power).