Vijayadasami reveres either Durga's or Rama's victory over evil depending on the region.
|Also called||Dussehra, Dasara, Navrathri|
|Significance||Celebrates the victory of good over evil|
|Celebrations||Marks the end of Durga Puja or Ramlila|
|Observances||pandals (stages), plays, community gathering, recitation of scriptures, immersion of Durga or burning of Ravana|
|Date||Ashvin (September or October)|
|2018 date||18 October, Thu (south India)|
19 October, Fri (northern and eastern India)`
|Part of a series on|
Vijayadashami (IAST: Vijayadaśamī, pronounced [ʋɪʝəjəðəʃmɪ]]) also known as Dasahara, Dusshera, Dasara, Dussehra or Dashain is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navratri every year. It is observed on the tenth day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin or Kartik, the sixth and seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar respectively , which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.
Vijayadashami is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of South Asia. In the southern, eastern and northeastern states of India, Vijayadashami marks the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga's victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to restore and protect dharma. In the northern and western states, the festival is synonymously called Dussehra (also spelled Dasara, Dashahara). In these regions, it marks the end of "Ramlila" and remembers God Rama's victory over the Ravan. On the very same occasion; Arjuna alone decimated 1 lakh+ soldiers & defeated all Kuru warriors including Bhishma, Drona, Ashwatthama, Karna, Kripa etc.- there by significantly quoting the natural example of victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). Alternatively it marks a reverence for one of the aspects of goddess Devi such as Durga or Saraswati.
Vijayadashami celebrations include processions to a river or ocean front that carry clay statues of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya, accompanied by music and chants, after which the images are immersed into the water for dissolution and a goodbye. Elsewhere, on Dasara, the towering effigies of Ravan symbolizing the evil are burnt with fireworks marking evil's destruction. The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami.
Etymology & Nomenclature
Vijayadashami (Devanagari: विजयदशमि ) (Kannada: ವಿಜಯದಶಮಿ) (Telugu: విజయదశమి) is a composite of two words "Vijaya" (विजय) and "Dashami" (दशमी), which respectively mean "victory" and "tenth," connoting the festival on the tenth day celebrating the victory of good over evil. The same Hindu festival-related term, however, takes different forms in different regions of India and Nepal, as well as among Hindu minorities found elsewhere.
According to James Lochtefeld, the word Dussehra (Devanagari: दशहर) (Kannada: ದಸರಾ ಹಬ್ಬ) is a variant of Dashahara which is a compound Sanskrit word composed of "dasham"(दशम) and "ahar" (अहर), respectively meaning "10" and "day". According to Monier-Williams, Dus (दुश) means "bad, evil, sinful," and Hara (हर) means "removing, destroying," connoting "removing the bad, destroying the evil, sinful."
Ravan kidnapped Sita. Raam requested Ravan to release her, but Ravan refused; the situation escalated and lead to the war. After performing severe penance for ten thousand years, he received a boon from the creator-god Brahma: he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons, or spirits. He is portrayed as a powerful demon king who disturbs the penances of rishis. Lord Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat and kill him, thus circumventing the boon given by Lord Brahma. A deadly and fierceful battle takes place between Raam and Ravan in which Raam kills Ravan and ends the evil rule. Ravan has ten heads. The killing of the one who has ten heads is called Dusshera. Finally, Dharma was established on the Earth because of Raam's victory over Ravan. Thus this festival is celebrated reminding the victories of Good over Evil.
In the Mahabharat,the Pandavs are known to have spent their thirteenth year of exile in disguise in the kingdom of Virat. Before going to Virata, they are known to have hung their celestial weapons in a Shami tree for safekeeping for a year.   Bhima kills Kichak. Hearing about the death of Kichak, Duryodhan surmises that the Pandavs were hiding in Matsya. A host of Kaurav warriors attacks Virat, presumably to steal their cattle, but in reality, desiring to pierce the Pandavs' veil of anonymity. Full of bravado, Virat's son Uttar attempts to take on the army by himself while the rest of the Matsya army has been lured away to fight Susharma and the Trigartas. As suggested by Draupadi, Uttar takes Brihannala with him, as his charioteer. When he sees the Kaurav army, Uttar loses his nerve and attempts to flee. Then Arjun reveals his identity and those of his brothers'. Arjun takes Uttar to the tree where the Pandavs hid their weapons. Arjun picks up his Gandiva after worshipping the tree, as the Shami tree safeguarded the Pandavs’ weapons for that complete year. Arjun reties the thread of Gandiva, simply drags and releases it - which produces a terrible twang. At the same point of time, Kaurav warriors were eagerly waiting to spot Pandavs. Dispute chats took place between Karn and Dron. Karn told Duryodhan that he would easily defeat Arjun and doesn’t feel threatened by Drona’s words since Drona was intentionally praising Arjuna, as Arjuna was a favorite student of Drona. Ashwatthama supports his father by praising Arjun. Then Arjun arrives on the battlefield. . Eager to defend the land that had given him refuge, Arjun engaged the legion of Kaurav warriors. The battle starts between Arjun and the entire Kuru Army. All the warriors including Bhishma, Dron, Karn, Kripa and Ashwathama together attacked Arjun to kill him, but Arjun defeated all of them multiple times.. During the battle, Arjun also killed Sangramjit, the foster brother of Karn, and instead of taking revenge for his brother, Karn fled in order to save his life from Arjun. Karn tried to fly away from Arjuna but he could not since Arjun invoked Sammohanaastra which made the entire army fall asleep.. This is the war in which Arjun proved that he was the best archer in the world at his time. In this way Arjuna alone defeated the entire Kuru army consisting of ten thousands of soldiers, Maharathis : Bhishma, Drona, Karna ; Atirathis : Kripa, Ashwatthama. One of the names of Arjuna is Vijaya - ever victorious. This incident took place on the same day in which Lord Raam killed Ravan. As it was Arjun’s day, the day also became popular as “VIJAYA DASHAMI”.
Regional Variations In Hinduism
In most of northern and western India, Dasha-Hara (literally, "ten days") is celebrated in honour of Raam Thousands of drama-dance-music plays based on the Ramayan and Ramcharitmanas (Ramlila) are performed at outdoor fairs across the land and in temporarily built staging grounds featuring effigies of the demons Ravan, Kumbhakarn and Meghanath. The effigies are burnt on bonfires in the evening of Vijayadashami-Dussehra. While Dussehra is observed on the same day across India, the festivities leading to it vary. In many places, the "Rama Lila", or the brief version of the story of Rama, Sita and Lakshaman, is enacted over the 9 days before it, but in some cities such as Varanasi the entire story is freely acted out by performance-artists before the public every evening for a month.
The performance arts tradition during the Dussehra festival was inscribed by UNESCO as one of the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" in 2008. The festivities, states UNESCO, include songs, narration, recital and dialogue based on the Hindu text Ramacharitmanas by Tulsidas. It is celebrated across northern India for dussehra, but particularly in historically important Hindu cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Vrindavan, Almora and Madhubani – cities in Uttar Pradesh, Utarakhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The festival and dramatic enactment of the virtues versus vices filled story is organized by communities in hundreds of small villages and towns, attracting a mix of audiences from different social, gender and economic backgrounds. In many parts of India, the audience and villagers join in and participate spontaneously, some helping the artists, others helping with stage setup, make-up, effigies and lights. These arts come to a close on the night of Dussehra, when the victory of Raam is celebrated by burning the effigies of evil, Ravan and his colleagues.
Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh and is regionally notable for its large fair and parade witnessed by estimated half a million people. The festival is a symbol of victory of good over evil by Raghu Nath, and is celebrated like elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent with a procession. The special feature of the Kullu Dasara procession is the arrival of floats containing deities from different parts of the nearby regions and their journey to Kullu.
Vijayadasami is celebrated in a variety of ways in South India.[better source needed] Celebrations range from worshipping Durga, lighting up temples and major forts such as at Mysore, to displaying colorful figurines, known as a golu.
The festival played a historical role in the 14th-century Vijayanagara Empire, where it was called Mahanavami. The Italian traveller Niccolò de' Conti described the festival's intensity and importance as a grandeur religious and martial event with royal support. The event revered Durga as the warrior goddess (some texts refer to her as Chamundeshwari). The celebrations hosted athletic competitions, singing and dancing, fireworks, a pageantry military parade and charitable giving to the public.
Another significant and notable tradition of several South Indian regions has been the dedication of this festival to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music and arts. She is worshipped, along with instruments of one's trade during this festival. In South India, people maintain, clean and worship their instruments, tools of work and implements of their livelihood during this festival, remembering Goddess Saraswati and Durga.
Kids aged 3–4, who are new to school, are admitted to school on Viajayadasami Day.
In Gujarat, both goddess Durga and god Rama are revered for their victory over evil. Fasting and prayers at temples are common. A regional dance called Dandiya Raas, that deploys colorfully decorated sticks, and Garba that is dancing in traditional dress is a part of the festivities through the night.
In Maharashtra, the deities installed on the first day of Navratri are immersed in water. Observers visit each other and exchange sweets.
The festival has been historically important in Maharashtra. Shivaji, who challenged the Mughal Empire in the 17th-century and created a Hindu kingdom in western and central India, would deploy his soldiers to assist farmers in cropping lands and providing adequate irrigation to guarantee food supplies. Post monsoons, on Vijayadashami, these soldiers would leave their villages and reassemble to serve in the military, re-arm and obtain their deployment orders, then proceed to the frontiers for active duty.
Vijaya Dasami is observed as Bijoya Dashomi, immediately after the day of Dashomi or the tenth day of Nabaratri, marked by a great procession where the clay statues are ceremoniously walked to a river or ocean coast for a solemn goodbye to Durga. Many mark their faces with vermilion (sindoor) or wear some red clothing. It is an emotional day for some devotees, even for many atheist Bengalis as the congregation sings emotional goodbye songs. When the procession reaches the water, Durga is immersed, the clay dissolves, and she is believed to return to Mount Kailasha with Shiva and to the cosmos in general. People distribute sweets and gifts, visit their friends and family members. Some communities such as those near Varanasi mark the eleventh day, called ekadashi, by visiting a Durga temple.
In Nepal, Vijayadashami follows the festival of Dashain. Youngsters visit the elders in their family, distant ones come to their native homes, and students visit their school teachers. The elders and teachers welcome the youngsters, mark their foreheads with tika and bless them. The family reveres the Hindu goddess of wealth Lakshmi, hoping for virtuous success and prosperity in the year ahead.
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