Dussehra, also known as Vijaya Dashami, is a major celebration in Hinduism and followed by Hindus all around the globe. It is also commonly referred to as the festival of good vs evil since it symbolizes the defeat of Ravana by Lord Ram. Dussehra 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. The first 9 days are celebrated as Navratri and culminates on the 10th day as Dussehra.
In India, the harvest season begins at this time and so the Mother Goddess is invoked to start the new harvest season and reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil. This is done through religious performances and rituals which are thought to invoke cosmic forces that rejuvenate the soil. Many people of the Hindu faith observe Dussehra through social gatherings and food offerings to the gods at home and in temples throughout India and abroad.
The Ramlila is an enactment of the life of Lord Rama and most commonly performed as a play during the 9 days preceding Dussehra. On the 10th day (Dussehra or Vijay Dasami), larger effigies of Ravana, his son and brother – Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna are set to fire.
One derivation of the word Dussehra is from dashhara. ‘Dash’ means ten and ‘hara’ means defeated. Nine days before Dasera, in the nine days of Navaratri, all the ten directions are saturated with the female deity’s (devi’s-Shakti) energy. ‘Shakti’ has control over creation in all the ten directions (dikbhav), attendants (gan), etc. That is why this day is known as Dashhara, Dasera, Vijayadashami, etc. This is one amongst the three and a half auspicious moments (muhurts) of the year. This falls on the tenth day (dashami) of the bright fortnight of Ashvin. The immersion of the Navratri (female deity) is done on the ninth day (navami) or the tenth day. Four rituals namely crossing the territory (Simollanghan), worship of the Shami tree (Shamipujan), worship of the deity Aparajita (Aparajitapujan) and worship of instruments (Shastrapuja) should be performed on this day. Dussehra is the festival of Victory of Good over Evil. There are many variations to this feat, that are believed all across India. Dussehra is also referred to as the end of Navratri and Durgotsav, Dashahara, Dashain, Vijayadashami, Dashhara and Vijayadasami.
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