Burning of effigies of the 10-headed Ravana, bursting of firecrackers, distribution of sweets, and the dramatic re-enactment of Ramayana accurately sums up Dussehra. This is a day that celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
Dussehra has its origins in the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana which is the story of Rama, the son of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya. The story goes that Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana spent 14 years in exile. During this exile, the demon king of Lanka Ravana abducted Sita, keeping her captive, trying to win her love. Until Rama, along with his brother, loyal devotee Hanuman and an army of monkeys made his way into Lanka to rescue her. This resulted in an epic war between Rama and Ravana that is said to have lasted 10 days. It ended on Dashami with the victory of the valiant Rama. This glorious victory is commemorated by Hindus all over the world.
Dussehra which falls on the 10th day of the Ashvin month in the lunar calendar also marks the advent of winter and the beginning of the harvest season. On the Gregorian calendar, this day falls in September or October.
A pious day
Hindus consider Dussehra as one of the most auspicious days of the year. It is said buying electronics, gold, vehicles or property on this day can bring you luck. People look forward to scheduling inaugurations, purchasing new vehicles and taking big steps in their life on this day. It is widely believed Dussehra is a day of success, victory and luck.
Numerous legends demonstrate why this day is considered so auspicious. Soulveda decided to trace some of these legends across time.
Lord Shiva explains
Goddess Parvati once asked her beloved husband Lord Shiva about Dussehra’s auspiciousness. Shiva told her that on the 10th day of the month of Ashvin, a star rises in the sky–a phase known as Vijaya Kaal. This phase is auspicious to get victory over enemies and start new ventures.
It is said that Rama attacked and emerged victorious over Ravana during the Vijaya Kaal, which can literally be translated to ‘Victory Hour’.
Dussehra not only marks the victory of justice over injustice but also represents new beginnings.
Victory of the gods
According to another story, when the buffalo demon, Mahishasura tyrannized the world, the gods put their powers together and gave birth to ‘Shakti’ in the form of Goddess Durga. They blessed the goddess with ten hands and a weapon in each, to slay the demon. A fierce battle was fought for nine days (Navratri) after which Goddess Durga emerged the victor. Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami marks this victory as the 10th day of Navratri. Some say, it was the phase of Vijaya Kaal that made this victory possible.
The epic war
Dussehra is a day of immense significance in yet another grand epic–Mahabharata. It is on this day that the five Pandava brothers returned after spending 12 years in exile and one year in Agyaatvaas (hiding in disguise). Upon their return, they retrieved their weapons from inside a Shami tree where they had left them. This day marks the beginning of a series of events which led to the battle of Kurukshetra. The Pandavas emerged victorious in this war.
For centuries, stories and legends have taught us that good always wins over evil. The legend of Dussehra is one such lesson. Dussehra not only marks the victory of justice over injustice but also represents new beginnings. More than a festival, it is a symbol of hope. A hope for a new start; a hope for another chance; a hope for a better time. The auspiciousness of this day for the modern man may simply be rooted in the hope this day brings.