Dashara, also known as Dussehra, is a significant Hindu festival celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor throughout India. The festival marks the triumph of good over evil and is observed on the tenth day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin. Dashara is a composite word derived from “Dasha” meaning ten and “Hara” meaning defeat or vanquish. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of Dashara, including its historical significance, rituals and celebrations, and the date of its occurrence. Additionally, a FAQs section will address common queries related to this vibrant festival.
Historical Significance of Dashara:
Dashara is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. According to the epic Ramayana, Ravana had abducted Lord Rama’s wife, Sita, and held her captive in his kingdom of Lanka. Lord Rama, accompanied by his faithful brother Lakshmana and the monkey god Hanuman, waged a battle against Ravana to rescue Sita. After a fierce and epic struggle, Lord Rama emerged victorious, slaying Ravana and freeing Sita from his clutches. The festival of Dashara thus symbolizes the triumph of righteousness over evil and the restoration of dharma (moral and ethical values).
Rituals and Celebrations:
Dashara is celebrated with great enthusiasm and varies in traditions and customs across different regions of India. The festival typically spans ten days, with each day holding its own significance. The first nine days are known as Navratri, during which devotees worship the nine forms of the goddess Durga. These forms are believed to represent the divine feminine energy and the power of the goddess to destroy evil forces. Elaborate prayers, devotional songs, and dance performances are conducted during this period.
The tenth day, known as Vijayadashami, is considered the most auspicious day of Dashara. It marks the culmination of the festival and the victory of good over evil. On this day, large effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna, and his son Meghnad are set ablaze in open grounds. These effigy burnings, known as Ravana Dahan, symbolize the destruction of evil forces. The event is accompanied by fireworks, music, and dance performances, creating a festive atmosphere.
Another significant aspect of Dashara is the performance of Ram Lila, a dramatic reenactment of the life and adventures of Lord Rama. These plays, often held in open-air theaters, depict various episodes from the Ramayana and culminate in the final battle between Lord Rama and Ravana. The Ram Lila performances are attended by large crowds who enthusiastically cheer for their favorite characters.
Date of Dashara:
The date of Dashara varies each year as it follows the lunar calendar. The festival typically falls in either September or October, with the exact date determined by the positioning of the moon. Dashara is celebrated on the tenth day of the bright half of the month of Ashvin. In 2021, Dashara is expected to be celebrated on October 15th.
Q: Is Dashara only celebrated in India?
A: Dashara is primarily celebrated in India, but it is also observed in various other countries with significant Hindu populations, such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
Q: Are there any regional variations in the way Dashara is celebrated?
A: Yes, Dashara celebrations vary across different regions of India. For example, in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, Dashara is marked by colorful processions and the worship of local deities. In the state of West Bengal, Dashara coincides with the celebration of Durga Puja, a grand festival dedicated to the goddess Durga.
Q: Are there any specific rituals associated with Dashara?
A: Yes, there are several rituals associated with Dashara. These include the worship of goddess Durga during Navratri, the burning of effigies of Ravana, and the performance of Ram Lila plays.
Q: What is the significance of burning effigies of Ravana?
A: Burning effigies of Ravana symbolizes the destruction of evil forces and the triumph of good over evil. It is believed that by burning the effigies, people rid themselves of their own inner demons and negative qualities.
Q: Are there any special foods associated with Dashara?
A: While there are no specific foods associated with Dashara, people often prepare and share traditional sweets and delicacies as part of the festive celebrations.
In conclusion, Dashara is a vibrant and joyous festival celebrated throughout India to commemorate the victory of good over evil. The historical significance, rituals, and celebrations associated with Dashara make it one of the most eagerly awaited festivals in the country. The date of Dashara varies each year, determined by the lunar calendar. With its rich cultural heritage and deep-rooted traditions, Dashara continues to be a cherished festival that brings people together in the spirit of unity and positivity.