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Dussehra

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Dussehra

One of the famous festivals celebrated in India, Dussehra is celebrated on the 10th day of the Hindu autumn lunar month of Ashvin, which is between September and October. The festival is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. People all over the country participate in the occasion in their own way, with great zeal and enthusiasm. This day marks the beginning of the harvest season in India and the 'mother earth' is invoked to reactivate the vigor and fertility in the soil. All this is done by performing rituals and religious activities on the day of Vijayadashami. It is believed that the rituals and customs invoke cosmic forces that lead to the rejuvenation of the soil.


Famously known as Dasha-hara, Dassera and Durgotsav, this festival has its own unique meaning. This is a festival which marks the victory of good over the evil. The word 'Dussehra' is made up of two Hindi words, 'Dus' and 'Hara', where 'Dus' means ten and 'Hara' annihilated. So,if these two words are combined, 'Dussehra' stands for the day when the ten evil faces.


Dussehra is a most important Hindu festival. It values a lot to the people to Hindu religion. This festival is of great religious and cultural significance. People celebrate this festival with big enthusiasm and beliefs.


This festival indicates the victory of goodness over badness mean triumph of truth over evil power. People celebrate this festival by following lots of rituals and pooja ceremony. Religious people and devotees keep fast for the whole day. Some people keep fast to only first and last day (9th day) However, some people keep fast for all nine days and worship Goddess Durga to get blessings and power. On the tenth day people celebrate Dussehra in the happiness of victory of Lord Rama over the demon king, Ravana. The day marks the victory of the seventh incarnation of Vishnu – Lord Rama when he killed the ten-headed demon Ravana and thereafter handed over the throne of his kingdom Lanka to his brother Vibhishana.


The day also marks the end of Durga Puja, where people remember goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasur, to help restore Dharma. Navratri celebration culminates with Dussehra on the tenth day, when the idol of goddess Durga is immersed in a river or a lake.


The festival of Dussehra is unique in its perception and significance. It is said that this day symbolizes not as the victory of Ram but also the victory of ‘mankind'. That is why this day is held in high regard by people who believe that whenever there will be chaos in the society and evil will try to take over humanity, God will appear in the form of saviour to protect his devotees.


The Hindu religious festival is celebrated across cities in India and in Nepal. Many conclude the celebrations by taking part in processions to a river or sea-side to immerse the clay statues of Saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganesha and Durga. Devotees immersing the idols ask for absolution of sins and blessings from the gods. As part of Dussehra celebrations, enormous effigies of Ravana, most times along with that of his brothers Meghanada and Kumbhakarna, are burnt in huge open grounds, signifying Ram’s victory over the king of Sri Lanka. Dussehra also marks the onset of preparations for the festival of lights — Diwali, which falls twenty days after the festival. Celebrations also include organising the famed and popular Ramlila performances which involves people enacting the life and glory of the righteous Lord Ram through short plays. In cities like Varanasi However,, the entire life of Ram is acted out by artists every evening for an entire month.



History

There are many myths related to this festival according to the customs and traditions of the people in many regions of the country.


Ravana the king of Lanka was a devout follower of Lord Shiva. He was highly intellectual but a cruel & arrogant demon king. Ravana had ten heads which signifies his thorough knowledge over the four Vedas & six Upanishads, which made him as powerful as ten scholars. Another interpretation for the ten heads is the ten indriyas {five gyan (sensory) indriya + five karm (instruments of bodily action) indriya}. He used his powers for evil purposes. Ravana personifies worldly personality who runs after the materialistic things & has prominent characteristics like lust for power, women & greed. Despite his high stature & the kingdom made of gold, Ravan could not stay happy. Satguru says, in life when there is only knowledge but no love & compassion then one becomes egoistic.


On the other hand, Rama the king of Ayodhya was called Maryada Purushottam, literally the Perfect Man or Lord of Self-Control or Lord of Virtue. Rama’s life was one of perfect adherence to dharma despite harsh tests of life time. For the sake of his father’s promise Rama abandoned his claim to the throne & lived in exile for fourteen years. Rama personifies our spiritual personality, Our Own Self which is Love, Peace & Bliss.


This festival was started celebrating by the people of Hindu religion from the day Lord Rama had killed the demon king Ravana on the day of Dussehra (means 10th day of Ashwayuja month of Hindu calendar). Lord Rama had killed Ravana because he had kidnapped the Mata Seeta and was not agree to return her to the Lord Rama. Lord Rama had won the war with Ravana by the help of younger brother Lakshman and Vanara soldier of Hanuman. According to the Hindu Scripture, Ramayana, it is mentioned that Lord Ram had performed Chandi Homam to make goddess Durga happy and get blessings. In this way Lord Rama, got victory by knowing the secret of Ravana’s killing on 10th day of the war. Finally,, he retained his wife Seeta safely after killing the Ravana.


Ravana symbolizes Ego & Rama symbolizes Goodness (Our Real Self which is Sat Chit Anand). There is an ongoing fight between the good (Rama) & the evil (Ravana) in every man at the physical, mental & emotional level. With the advent of a Divine Soul “Satguru” in our lives, ego & negativity starts losing its grip. With surrender & unconditional love, Rama’s strong hold becomes evident. Ego & negativity is replaced by Divine knowledge, love & happiness – that is the victory of Rama over Ravana {good over evil}. On the auspicious occasion of Dussehra let us all take a pledge to burn all the vices mushrooming inside. With Satguru comes in our lives, we let Rama win. When Rama wins then there is only Light (Eternal Happiness). So the choice is ours. Either we become Ravana & get entrapped in the worldly pleasures or become Rama (A spiritual being).


A Dussehra festival is also known as the Durgotsav because it is considered that on the same day another demon called Mahishasura was killed by the Mata Durga on the tenth day. Durga led a battle against Mahishasur and it lasted for nine days and nine nights. Durga killed Mahishasur on the tenth day. Therefore, different manifestations of goddess Durga are worshipped during the nine-day long Navratri festival each year. Wherein the tenth day is dedicated to Durga as Vijayadashami. The feminine power is worshipped and celebrated during the festival of Navratri.



Ayudha Puja

Dasara, Dusshera, Navarathri … the very names symbolize resplendence. Think of this grand Indian festival and the mind fills itself with all the vibrancy a festive occasion denotes. So much so that, the very month in which the Dasara is celebrated turns out to become special, for it includes nine continuous days of festivity, each one of them unique, symbolic and special in their own way. One of them is what falls on the ninth day of Dasara commonly called the Ayudha Puja and traditionally celebrated by worshipping implements, arms and ammunitions, tools and vehicles, mostly in southern parts of the country.


The Ayudha Puja is a worship of whatever implements one may use in one's livelihood. On the preceding evening, it is traditional to place these implements on an altar to the Divine. If one can make a conscious effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses each day, it will help one to see one's work as an offering to God. It will also help one to maintain constant remembrance of the divine. In India it is customary for one to prostrate before the tools one will use before starting one's work each day; this is an expression of gratitude to God for helping one to fulfil one's duties.


While Ayudha Puja as the name itself suggests is about worshiping tools and implements, though it is observed in different places for different reasons too.


“Legend has it that the Ayudha puja was performed on the day prior to Goddess Chamundeshwari’s war on demon Mahishasura and all her weapons were worshiped before she left for the war. And the day that follows that is the celebration of her victory in her war over the demon, thus called Vijayadashami indicating her victory over evil since the weapons are considered to signify the illustrious power of man, ensuring the progress of mankind materially and spiritually.


The importance of Ayudha Puja on this occasion may also be due to the fact that on the day of Vijayadasami, Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, took back his arsenals which he had concealed in a Vani tree. He took the weapons back so that he can use them while he lived in disguise for the promised period of exile.


In its modern form Ayudha Puja has become Vahana Puja when people worship their vehicles including cars, scooters, and motor bikes. During Vahana Puja all sort of vehicles, which are in use, are decorated with vermilion, garlands, mango leaves and banana sapling and worshipped. Most significantly during Vahana Puja a white pumpkin is decorated with vermilion and turmeric and smashed in front of the vehicle as a custom to get rid of all sorts of evils.



Dussehra Puja Process

Requirements for the Puja:-

Image of Dussehra
Cow dung
Roli
Chawal
Wheat Flour
Flowers
Jaggery
1-1/4 kg Rice
Prasadam
Fruits
Bananas
Money for offering


Vidhi / Steps for performing the Puja:-

1.Draw the Dussehra image with wheat flour.
2.Make 2 katories of cow dung with a lid.
3.In one katori, keep the coins and in the other keep a little roli, chawal and fruits.
4.Do the puja with water, roli, chawal and flowers.
5.Offer Banana, jaggery, 1-1/4 kg.
6.Light the dhoop and the deepak, then do the parikrama.
7.Puja is offered with flowers, jhuwara, roli and chawal.
8.After the puja is done, money from the cow dung box is taken out and placed in a safe place.
9.Finally, food and dakshina are offered to the Brahmins.


Expert priests perform the pujas of his auspicious occasion. They chant mantras and shlokas for performing the puja. People perform the pujas in order to seek the blessings of the almighty for happiness, health, wealth and prosperity. Once the puja of Dussehra gets over, people are offered sweets that mean the ‘prasad’ of the puja.
Both men and women can perform this puja, but they must know the basic rituals and the correct procedures related with the puja.
Dussehra puja rituals differ from one region to another of the country. Dussehra puja is an age-old tradition. There is a common belief among the people that says if you perform the puja dedicatedly, then you will receive the blessings of Almighty God.


Vahana Puja Mantra:-

There is no particular mantra for vehicle puja or Vahana puja to be performed at home. However, the most favourable mantra for this puja will be Maha mrityunjay mantra which provides protection to one and all is as follows:

ॐ त्र्यम्‍बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम्
उर्वारुकमिव बन्‍धनान् मृत्‍योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात्

Om Tryambhakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat

The meaning of the above mantra is: Om – We worship the three-eyed one (Lord Siva) who is fragrant and who nourishes well all beings; may He liberate us from death for the sake of Immortality even as a cucumber is severed from its bondage (to the creeper).


Shami Tree Puja Mantra:-

Yet another important ritual on dussehra is worshiping shami tree. Puja mantra is as follows:


शमी शमयते पापं शमी लोहितकण्टका ।
धारिण्यर्जुनबाणानां रामस्य प्रियवादिनी ।।
करिष्यमाणयात्रायां यथाकाल सुखं मया ।
तत्रनिर्विघ्नकर्त्रीत्वंभवश्रीरामपूजिते ।।

Shami Shamayate papam shami lokhitkantaka
Dharinyarjunbananam Ramasya priyavadini
Karishmanyatraya yathakal such mya
Tatra nirvighanktri twam bhav Sree Rampujite

The meaning of the above mantra is: O Shami, Lord Rama has worshipped you. I now embark upon my journey to victory. May you make it pleasant and free from obstacles.


Aprajita Puja Mantra:-

Devi Aprajita is worshipped on Vijayadashami as Lord Rama worshipped the Goddess a day before commencing his journey for Lanka to bring back Sita. Aprajita Puja too is held during the Aparahna Muhurat on Dussehra. Since ages, Goddess Aprajita is worshipped for safe and successful journeys. The following mantra is chanted during Aprajit Puja:


इमां पूजां मयां देवि यथाशक्ति निवेदिताम्।
रक्षार्थं तु समादाय व्रजस्व स्थानमुत्तमम्॥
हारेण तु विचित्रेण भास्वत्कनकमेखला।
अपराजिता भद्ररता करोतु विजयं मम॥