Further Reading On Dassera
From time to time, many festivals are celebrated by the Hindus of India. Every festival has its own importance, Dassera, also known as Vijaya Dashami is the festival, which is unique and of great significance.
Vijaya means victory and Dashami means tenth, so Vijaya Dashami is the other name of Dassera, victory on the tenth. This festival falls on Aswin Shuki tenth. Lord Ram invaded Sri Lanka on this day and came out victorious. This day has been recognized auspicious to defeat an enemy. According to astrology, that period, before the rise of stars on Aswin Shukl tenth, is 'Vijaya'. That awards Siddhi (Supernatural powers) to all deeds. Before this tenth day is widow night, which is pure. The sunrise after this is the most superior. Vijaya Dashami is a national Hindu Festival. Prominently this is a festival of the Kshatriyas. Public, in general observe this as Ram Lila. For first nine days (Nava Ratri) of Shuki Paksh, Lord Ram Lila is performed. On the tenth (Vijay Dashami) day. Lord Ram is taken out in a procession on a be jewelled chariot all over the streets. This day is still luckier, if one happens to have a glance at Neel Kanth (a small eagle of blue colour).
Any king, who celebrates this festival every year, against victory over his enemies with all his horses, elephants and carriers; all weapons and armour, all family members and attendants, he goes out of town and worships Gods and then pervades his enemy or his effigy, backed by enchantment of Vedic hymns, such a king is always victorious.
Lord Rama was the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was born during Treta Yuga, on the ninth of the light half of the month of Chetr (March-April) in the city of Ayodhaya, with Dashrath as his father and Kaushalaya as the mother. At the first dawn of intelligence, he acquired much learning and withdrawing from all worldly pursuits, set out journeying through wilds and gave a fresh beauty to his life by visiting holy shrines.
Dashrath, during a war with the asuras (demons) and in order to help the gods, was injured and his third wife, who was with him on the battle field, saved his life. So Dashrath had promised a boon to Kekeye to be availed, as and when she desired. Rama was declared as the successor to old Dashrath. Kekeye availed off the promise and got Rama to be sent to exile for fourteen years. The aim was to get her son Bharata installed in place of Rama.
Rama being righteous person, in order to save the word of his father, went into exile. His younger brother Lakshman and his wife Sita accompanied him, voluntarily. During the exile, Rama visited many saints and saved their heritage from atrocities of the demons. By a trick and magical powers, Ravana stole away Sita. Lakshman insulted Suparnakha, the sister of Ravana.
Ravana, one of the rakshasas, two generations in descent from Brahma; the son of great rishi (sage) Visravas (son of saint Pulsateye) born out of a Gandharva marriage with a demon wife, is said to have performed sever austerities for a period of ten thousand years, in the hope of obtaining sovereignty of the three worlds. The deity appeared to him and granted his prayer. Ravana was highly learned and had obtained power from Lord Brahma. He is said to have had ten heads, which may signify intelligence, but the ego in him was his curse. The gods were afflicted by his rule. They solicited this dethronement, which was vouchsafed, and Lord Ram was incarnated to accomplish this end.
Dassera is celebrated in remembrance of the victory of Rama over Ravana. A ten headed person, has never been born, nor is, nor would be born, so this myth of ten heads is superfluous. In fact it signifies the victory over evils. Burning of the effigy of Ravana on the Vijaya Dashami day, means to get rid of the evils in a man, which are sex, lust or carnality; anger or rage, greed, avarice or temptation, attachment, allurement or infatuation, arrogance, ego or pride, jealousy, hatred, feeling of revenge, insulting others or talking ill of others, dishonesty, selfishness, intolerance, violence, cruelty or hurting others.
Rama was known for his strict abidance to truth, virtue and righteousness. Rama's main hole in the divine Rama was to spell out the law of virtue. Rama symbolizes a perfect life and those who follow the path laid by him will enjoy peace. Although Rama conquered Sri Lanka and killed Ravana, yet his aim was only to liberate Sita, to put an end to the atrocities of Ravana. It was not a revenge. It was not selfishness, because he handed over the kingdom of Sri Lanka to Bheveeshan, the brother of Ravana, Rama assures protection to all, who seek refuge in him, such as Sugriva, the monkey king. The Story of Rama and his victory over Ravana, was originally compiled in Valmiki's Ramayana, later recited in the Mahabharata and then illustrated in Tuisi Dasa's Ram Charit Manas.
Ram Lila begins on the first day of Navaratris, when the enactment of Rama Drama begins. The whole life story of Rama, right from his birth on earth, his childhood, his education and training, his winning over Sita in a sweyeambar (Competition). His coronation to be, his exile, encounter with demons in safeguarding Rishi ashrams, stealing away of Sita, meeting Ahalyabai, meeting Hanuman, friendship with Sugrieva, invasion of Sri Lanka and the killing of Ravana and return to Ayodhaya all these incidents, form topics for day performance over the stage, in most parts of India. On the last day, the day of Dassera, the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran (Parana's brother) Meghnath (Ravana's son) are burnt with an arrow from Rama's bow. The crackers fitted inside the effigies explode with great noise and to the laughter of the crowd in Dassera fair.
The Rama Barat of Agra, marriage procession Rama, from Ayodhaya to Janakpur, the capital city of Janak the father of Sita, is famous, which attracts crowds from nearby places, who come in thousands, carried on by tongas, tractor trolleys and on foot. The Dassera melas (fairs) at Mysore, Kulu and Kota (Rajasthan) are famous their magnificence, although every place in India, celebrates the fair, in one form or the other.
Celebration Of Dassera In different parts of India:
Northern India: In Kashi, Ram Lila is performed at many places. Parayag, on the day of Vi)aya Dashami, many decorated tableaux are taken through the streets. These mostly relate to Rama's life, but there are others, which are of religious importance. The Ram Lila in Ram Nagar of Kashi, lasts for one month.
Rajasthan: People take out their arms and in reverence to their ancestors, display them outside. A shine is given to these armours and are worshipped, displaying their power and valour. In the time of Indian rulers in different states, big processions were passed through & town, with the maharaja, his ministers and warriors joining it. Worship of the arms and armour, is a special feature of this state.
Mysore: In ancient times, Mysore was the Capital of the demon Mahisasur, who was massacred by Goddes Durga. A grand procession on the day of Vijayadashmi, with the maharaja sitting on an elephant was taken out. After the extinction of the maharaias, now the picture of Bharat Mata (Mother of India) is placed on the throne on the elephant.
Maharashtra: It is believed, here that whatever work is commenced on the day of Dassera, that all becomes successful. They believe that a king must undertake a journey on this day. Now that there are no kings/maharaja, the picture of Bharatmata or of Rama is now taken out, placed in a palanquin, in a procession, which crosses the border of the town. This is known as "Seema Ulanghan" (crossing the border).
Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh): In all Hindu families, delicious food is cooked on this day. The ladies beautify themselves, taking flowers, they light the lamps on the hills. Then going to the river, they decorate the banks with lit lamps, which is a glorious sight for the onlookers. They dance and amuse themselves with Vatkamma dance. Two processions, one by the Arya Samajis and the other by the Sikhs, in which horses, elephants, camels take part, are a unique feature of the Dassera at Hyderabad.
West Bengal: The festival of Dassera in Bengal is celebrated as Durga Pooja.
Rest Of Andhra Pradesh: On the day of Vijaya Dashami (Dassera), the gurus (teachers) take their disciples, boys and girls, out in the streets, who collect aims for their Guru, by reciting poems. So on the day of Dassera, there is a combined worship of Guru and Goddess Saraswati.
Almora (Kumaon): In previous years, on the day of Dassera, symbolic images of Basant Panchami, Ram Navami, janam Ashtami, Nanda Devi, Durga and Dassera were included in the procession, but now only those of Nanda Devi, Janam Ashtami and Dassera are included in the procession. Rama and Lakshmana with their bows and arrows are a great attraction of the procession.
Kulu: Amid snow clad mountain and picturesque pine forests, the world famous international Kulu Dessehara, begins when all such celebrations have ended throughout the country. The festival begins with the pulling of the chariot of Lord Raghunath from the
Raghunath temple, by hundreds of devotees through the towns-ship. The chariot is followed by the various local deities, worshipped in different parts of the valley and the adjoining areas. Goddess Hadimba (spouse of Bhima of Mahabharata) is a special invitee to the celebrations. She is brought on a decorated palanquin to the grounds amid chanting of religious hymns and the blow of trumpets and drums. It may be remembered that Hadimba was the demon (Rakshas) woman, who married Bhima, while in exile, in defiance of his brother's wishes, whom Bhima killed. After the week long celebrations, follows the sacrifice of a buffalo, a rooster, a lamb, a fish and a crab. Simultaneously a huge pile of grass is set on fire symbolizing the burning of Lanka (the evil).
Dassera outside India
Like India, there are many countries, outside India, where Dassera celebration is held.
Egypt: In Ramosiyam (Rameswaram) temple, there is a reference to twelve kings by the name of Rameroo. One ancient queen was named Sitaman.
Turkey: Description of a valorous king Dasarath has been traced.
Iran: Raman named deity was highly worshipped in Iran. The influence of Rama could also be seen in the name of Avram, Oram, etc.
Assyria; There is a reference to a deity Ramman. The story of Rama is depicted in different forms in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia. Ram Lila, in these countries is performed in form of dance dramas.
In China, Rama, Lakshmanaand Sita have been recognized as brothers and sister. In Laos, Hanuman is shown as the son of Rama. Rama's marriage has also been shown to the wife of Bali. Kamboja Ramayana has shown Sita as the daughter of Ravana. In Sri Lanka, Ramayana is also shown in different dissident forms. The facts are shown in Indian literature and composed in the Ramayana of Valmiki.
The Pooja on Dassera day is like any other day. A broad dish with Roll, aipun, rice is prepared. The youngest girl in the house puts a Teeka on the forehead of the men and a Bindi on the forehead of the women. The Pooja of & Gods is done in the house, in the morning. After Pooja, sweets are given to those present. A foolscap paper is marked with aipun on all sides. The Swastika marked in the center reminds one of our Aryan origin. Swastika is also made o the vehicles. Warriors and Drivers, specially celebrate Dassera.
Dassera also reminiscent of the end of the exile and banishment of the Pandava princes in the Mahabharata and their return with their weapons to claim their kingdom. In memory of this epic story, people in Maharashtra worship the implements of their professions and distribute the leaves of the Shami tree as 'gold' and express goodwill.
Vijayadashami is the day of Saraswati or the deity of knowledge and learning. Children begin their school education, their art lessons or their career planning on this day and seek their elders' blessings. For Hindus, Dussera is one of the four most auspicious days of the year.