Dussehra is a Hindu festival celebrating the victory of goodness over evil. This day marks the triumph of Lord Rama over the ten headed Demon Ravana. Thus this day is celebrated with full vigour and passion by every Hindus present. Hence in order to celebrate the emotion of victory over the ten headed demon, huge effigy depicting Ravana is burnt with a stroke of an arrow. Many legends are also associated with the celebration of this particular festival.
Dussehra has a huge religious significance in the lives of every Hindus. This festival marks the triumph of good over the evil. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed, Lord Ramakilled the great demon king of Lanka, Ravana, who had abducted his wife Sita. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman, follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys faced a great combat for ten days, in order to rescue his wife Sita. This victory of Rama is regarded as the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. That is why by celebrating Dussehra, we honour the victory which Lord Ram achieved. Thus it is celebrated on the tenth day of the Navratra. People across the country participate in this occasion in their own way. They exchangegifts,sweets especially jalebis, and wishes amongst their loved ones.
Many other legends are also associated with this festival. For instance,there is a little known story about Dussehra in Bengali mythology as well. According to which Ram revered GoddessDurga during the Navratra, worshiped all the day long and set out on the day of Vijayadasami or the Dussehra day, after worshiping the Sami tree. He set out to conquer Ravana and stood victorious. Thus from that particular day, Sami tree became the epitome of victory.
This festival of Dussehra has a special significance across the country. Due to India's varied culture this festival is celebrated with different traditions and customs. But the fervor amongst all the states remains the samethroughout.For instance north Indian states celebrate this festival by enacting dramas depicting the episodes from the life of Lord Rama. Their celebration also includes performing Ram Lila, a mela that is organized by different committees, at huge grounds. Even in Delhi, many amateur troupes perform Ram Lila throughout the nine-day worship of the Goddess Durga. The tenth day is considered as the most important day when elaborate processions lead to the Ram Lila grounds where immense cracker-stuffed effigies of the demon Ravana and his brother and son are burnt.
In Northern India
Ram Lila serves as the backbone of the celebration of Dusshera in northern India, where the scenes from Rama's life are depicted, especially Bharat Milap, where the reunion of Rama with his brother Bharat,is depicted.The destruction of Ravanaand the return of Rama along withLakshmana and Sita to Ayodhya, serves as the occasions for their celebration. This is the auspicious day when Lord Rama killed Ravana and made Lanka free from the supremacy of Asuras. It is the day when we burn the effigy of Ravana along with his minions,Meghanad and Kumbhkarana. Lord Rama fought a battle of ten days with Ravana, who had abducted his wife Sita. With his Monkey Army called VanarSena, Rama defeated the army led by Ravana and handed over the rule to Bhibhishan. Exactly twenty days after the end of the war, Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya. It is the same day on which the festival of Diwali is celebrated. The significance of Dussehra in the context of Diwali is thus relevant.
Since then the effigies of ten faced Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhkarana are burnt. Usually, ten days just before Dussehra, the whole Ramayana is enacted in various parts of India as well as in foreign countries.And on the tenth day that is on the day of Dussehra the whole Rama-Ravana war is enacted and at last the actor playing the role of Lord Rama, burns the effigy of ten head Ravana, with the stroke of his arrow.
Dussehra celebration also takes placeatKullu, a small town in Himachal Pradeshthe people of Kuttu starting celebrating this festival since the time of Maharaja RanjitSingh. Here the celebration beginsjust after three days after it is celebrated in the rest of the country, and the celebrated lasts for three days. On the first day of the celebration, the idol of Raghunathji is mounted on a splendid “rath” orchariot. The chariot carryingRaghunathji is drawn from hisnative place in Dholpurmaidan to another part of the meadow. On the second day, a Devta Durbar or Council of Gods is held, with Raghunathji presiding over. And on the last day of the festival, the chariot of Raghunathji is drawn again, amidst fanfare to the banks of the river Beas.
In Southern India
In Southern, Eastern and Western India, the festival of Navaratri, which culminates with Vijayadashami, commemorates the legend in which the Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or MahishasuraMardini, annihilates the demon Mahishasura. This event is said to have taken place in the vicinity of the present day city of Mysore in Karnataka.
In Tamil Nadu, the first three days of the celebration are dedicated to the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.The next three days are dedicated toGoddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge.And the final three days are dedicated to GoddessDurga the goddess of Shakti. In the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, families decorate dolls or BommaiKolu.Women belonging from these states traditionally exchange gifts of coconuts, sweets and as well clothes.Vijayadasamiserves as an auspicious occasion for children to commence their education in classical dance and music, and to pay their homage to their teachers.
Mysore is famous for a gala procession consistingof richly decorated elephants. Effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkaran are also burnt. The Mysore palace which adds grandeur to the city is also illuminated for the whole festive season of Dussehra.
In East India
In West Bengal, Vijayadashmi is celebrated,celebrating Goddess Durga’s victory over Mahishasura, the demon who ruled the swarglok and the earth with his invulnerable power. It is the last day of the tendayDurga Puja festival. On theVijayadashmi, the idol of Ma Durga is preceded by a huge procession of devotees and is finally immersed in the nearby river or lake ceremoniously. This whole process is known as visarjanor submersion of the diety.
In Orissa, the festival is called VijoyaDashami. This day is considered to be the last day of the SharodiyaDurga Puja. After offering the last ritual orAparajita Pujato the Goddess, every devotee bid her adieu with tearful eyes. The immersion procession is known as 'BisarjanJatra'. After immersing the ido in nearby lake or pond, people of Orissa celebrate 'RavanPodi', wherein the effigies of demon Ravana are burnt.
In West India
As per the Shaka Hindu Calendar,people of Maharashtra celebrate Dussehraon the tenth day of the Ashwin month. On Dussehra which is the last day of Navratri, the idols installed on the first day of Navratri are immersed in water.On this day, people visit their friends and relatives and exchange sweets. On this day theAapta tree is worshipped as well. Exchange of itsleaves is considered to be auspicious. The legendaryShami tree, under which the Pandavas of Mahabharata kept their weapons during their 12 years of exile, is also associated with these celebrations. As per the legend, the weapons were retrieved by them on this particular day. Dussehra is thus considered to be auspicious to start any new venture for every Maharashtrian.