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|| Dasara ||

Dasara, Dashahara, Navaratri, Durgotdsav is one of the very important & fascinating festivals of India, which is celebrated in the lunar month of Ashwayuja (usually in September or October) from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada (the next of the New moon day of Bhadrapada) to the Dashami or the tenth day of Ashwayuja This festival is celebrated not only in India but in almost all eastern countries like Java, Sumatra, Japan etc... Dasara is Nepals national festival. Word DASARA is derived from Sanskrit words Dasha & hara meaning removing the ten (10). This is the most auspicious festival in the Dakshinaayana or in the Southern hemisphere motion of the Sun. In Sanskrit, 'Vijaya' means Victory and 'Dashami' means 10th day. 'Thus Vijaya Dashami' means victory on the 10th day. Dasara is also known as Navaratri, as in the first nine days the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped and invoked in different manifestations of her Shakti. The 10 th 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." Essence of the navaratri celebration at social level is to remind & respect all the women, who are the guardians of the family, culture, and national integrity, to take lead in times of crisis to guide the humanity towards the path of social justice, righteousness, equality, love, and divinity.

Durga is worshipped as the main deity of Navaratri by all the segments of society including tribal communities. Dasara coincide with the period of rest & leisure of the farmers after their strenuous hard work in their farms & fields, hence they invoke blessings of Durga in order to have a rich harvest in the next coming season. In India harvest season begins at this time and as mother earth is the source of all food the Mother Goddess is invoked to start afresh the new harvest season and to reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil by doing religious performances and rituals which invoke cosmic forces for the rejuvenation of the soil. On the day of Dasara, statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in the river waters. These statues are made with the clay & the pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are powerful disinfectants and are mixed in the river waters. This makes water useful for the farmers & yields better crops.

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Hindawi (Hindu) Swarajya used to always worship Lord Shiva & Goddess Durga in the form of goddess Bhawani before any military expedition. Goddess Bhavani had blessed Shivaji Maharaj with her own sword called Bhavani Talwar.

Navaratri festival is observed ten days, out of which nine for cleansing one's self of all impurities, in order to experience the divinity within & the last day is dedicated to "worship of weapons (Aayudha Pooja). The weapons to be worshipped are the divine powers & virtues within. When the divine is worshipped in this way, one is bound to progress spiritually. manufacturers worship their machines, traders worship their books of account, intellectuals worship their Pen, Calculators, Computers and children worship their school books, notebooks, drawing material etc...

Veda Vyasa is considered as the foremost Guru and Vijayadasami is also celebrated as Vyasa puja.

Dasara is the festival of Victory of Good over Bad, God over Devil.

Dasara in different parts of India


In most of the northern India (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Hariyana etc) and some parts of Maharashtra Dasara is celebrated more in honor of Rama. During these 10 days many plays & dramas based on the epic of Ramayana are performed. These are called Ramlila.

In Bengal, Dasara is celebrated as Durga Puja. Idols of the goddess Durga are worshipped for nine days, and on the tenth day immersed in a river or pond. In Bengal, Assam & Orissa, Durga is also worshipped as Kali Mata as a symbol of Shakti (Power).

In Mysore - Karanataka, Dasara is celebrated very grandly when compared to any other place, decorated elephants lead a colorful procession by carrying the idol Maa Chamudeshwari through the streets of the city from the royal, and for all the 10 days whole mysore will be decorated with lights .

And in some houses at karnataka people exhibit and workship their toy collection of gods and godesses for all the ten days.

In some regions all the three principal goddesses - Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped during this festival, each for 3 days of the Navaratri.

In Gujrath, Rajasthan and most of Maharashtra during the Navaratri days the ladies & gents play a typical dance called Raas Garba every night.

Stories behind the celebration of dasara

Victory of Prabhu Ramchandra over Ravana


On this day in the Treta Yug, Shri Ram (7th incarnation of Vishnu), killed the great demon Ravan who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his wife Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days. Rama had performed "Chandi Hom and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana. Durga blessed Rama with the secret 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. So also prior to the defeat of Ravana, when Rambhakt Shri Hanuman went to Lanka to search Sita, he found her on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami. During these 10 days of Dasara, huge idols of Ravana, Kumbhakarna (brother of Ravana) & Meghanad (son of Ravana) are erected and are set on fire by the enthusiastic youth at the sun set.

After Dasara, the hot weather of the summer ends, especially in North India and as the winter starts, the cold weather becomes breeding ground for many kinds of infections. Hence burning huge Ravana statues filled with the crackers containing phosphorous purifies the atmosphere. At the same time the temples perform Chandi Homa or Durga Homa which also helps in purifying the atmosphere.

Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasur


Some of the Aasuras (Demons) were very powerful and ambitious, and continually tried to defeat Gods and capture the Heaven. One such Aasura called Mahishasur, who looked like a buffalo, grew very powerful & created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership the Aasuras even defeated the Devas (Gods), all of whom were powerless including Brahma, Vishnu etc Finally, when the world was getting crushed under Mahishasura's tyranny, the Devas came together & contributed their individual energy to form Shakti a single mass of incandescent energy to fight & kill Mahishasur. A very powerful band of lightening dazzled from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh (Shiva) and a beautiful, magnificent, radiant young virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her. This Shakti coalesced in the form of Goddess Durga.

Durga with weapons in her ten hands, riding on Lion, who assisted her in the fight, took on Mahishasur. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashwayuja shukla paksha, the evil demon Mahishasur was defeated & killed by Durga. Hence Dasara is also known as Navaratra or Durgotsava and is a celebration of victory of Goddess Durga. Durga as Consort of Lord Shiva represents two forms of female energy - one mild & protective and the other fierce & destructive.

End of Agnyatwas (living incognito) of Pandavas In

Dwapar Yuga, after Pandavas lost to Kauravas in the game of Dice, they had to proceed to 12 years of Vanwas (exile to forest) followed by one year of Adnyatwas. Pandavas spent 12 years in forest and hid their weapons in a hole on a Shami tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the last one year of Adnyatwas. After the completion of that year on Vijayadashmi they took the weapons from the Shami tree, declared their true identity & defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle wealth. Since that day the exchange of Shami leaves on Dassera day became symbols of good, will and victory. Hence on Dasara Shami Tree & the weapons are worshipped.