Saturday, 12 October 2013

Vijaya Dashami-Dasara

Goddess Durga is the most popular incarnation of Devi and one of the main forms of goddess Shakthi. Durga as Consort of Lord Shiva represents two forms of female energy - one mild & protective and the other fierce & destructive.Dasara is celebrated on the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur. It is also known as Vijayadashami. It is celebrated on the tenth day of month Ashwin, according to Hindu Lunisolar calendar. This is one of the important festivals in India and also celebrated in eastern countries like Japan. This is the national festival of Nepal. Dasara is celebrated in different ways across India:

Northern India :- Usually people here celebrate by burning the effigy of Ravana, Kumbakarna and Meghnath. A Charoit carrying Ram, Sita and Lakshaman passes through crowd and the person enacting Ram aims an arrow to burn the effigies one by one.

Gujarat:- Men and women gather and dance every night of the Navaratri and  even lot of competitions and shows are organised on this occasion. The songs are usually devotionally ones and the dance form is called Garba.Women in their best of attires surround beautifully decorated earthen pots and dance till late night. In many places Garba starts late at night and continue till dawn.  

In Bengal:- Dasara is celebrated as Durga Puja. Idols of the goddess Durga are worshipped for nine days, and on the tenth day immersed in a river or pond.  In Bengal, Assam & Orissa, Durga is also worshipped as Kali Mata as a symbol of Shakti (Power). 

In Mysore: - Karanataka, decorated elephants lead a colorful procession through the streets of the city.
South India: - In South India, the days of Navratri are equally divided to worship three Goddesses, Lakhmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Saraswati, Goddess of knowledge and learning and Durga, goddess of power and strength. They decorate their houses and steps with lamps and flowers in the evenings. Dussehra festival of Mysore is well known and is celebrated in its own style with pomp and pageantry.  

There are many other stories associated with the festival of Dussehra. No matter what the stories are, festivals in India convey the message of benevolence, peace and love. If the people kept in mind the beautiful and meaningful messages throughout the year, it would have been peace and harmony all around.  

Myths Behind:-

Victory of Goddess Durga over Mahisasura

The demon Mahishasura did penance, and in return Shiva blessed him so that no man or god could kill him, only a woman. This emboldened Mahishasura, who became troublesome throughout the world, even conquering the gods in the heavens. 

The trinity of gods Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu decided to create a woman to defeat him, and together, they contributed their individual energy to form “Shakti” a single mass of incandescent energy to fight & kill Mahishasur. A very powerful band of lightening dazzled from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh (Shiva) and a beautiful, magnificent, radiant young virgin with ten hands appeared.

They gave her their weapons, too: Shiva gave her the trident, Vishnu a disc, Varuna a conch and noose, Agni a spear, Vayu arrows, Indra the thunderbolt, Yama a sword and shield, Vishvakarma an axe and armour, Himavat a lion, and the other gods many other beautiful gifts.

 Durga went to battle with Mahishasura, easily destroying his armies. Taking the form of a buffalo, he charged Durga's soldiers. Durga's lion fought the buffalo, and Durga slipped her noose over its neck. Mahishasura changed into the form of a lion; Durga cut its head off; Mahishasura changed into the form of a man; Durga showered him with arrows; Mahishasura changed into an elephant; Durga cut its tusk with her sword. Finally, Mahishasura turned back into a buffalo. Using her ten arms, Durga pinned him to the ground, impaled him with her trident, and beheaded him with her sword. He died, and his army scattered.

Hence Dasara is also known as Navaratra or Durgotsava and is a celebration of victory of Goddess Durga.  

Victory of Lord Shri Ramachandra over Ravana 

            On this day in the Treta Yug, Shri Ram (7th incarnation of Vishnu), killed the great demon Ravan who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his wife Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days.

             Rama had performed "Chandi Hom” and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana.  Durga blessed Rama with the secret to kill Ravana.  Ravana was defeated in his own kingdom of Lanka by Rama & the vanarsena.  Rama with Sita & Laxman returned victorious to his kingdom of Ayodhya on the Ashwin Shukla dashami.  This victory of Rama is since then celebrated as “Vijaya Dashami”. 

             So also prior to the defeat of Ravana, when Rambhakt Shri Hanuman went to Lanka to search Sita, he found her on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami.
The purpose of performing these homas is also to kill & sacrifice the 10 bad qualities, which are represented by ten heads of Ravana as follows: 
(1) Kama vasana (Lust), (2) Krodha (Anger), (3) Moha (delusoion), (4) Lobha (Greed), (5) Mada (Over Pride), (6) Matsara (Jealousy), (7) Manas (Mind), (8) Buddhi (Intellect), (9) Chitta (will) & (10) Ahankara (Ego). 

Rain of Gold Coins

             According to a story, Kautsa, the young son of Devdatta (a Brahmin), was residing in the city of Paithan. After pursuing his education under the guidance of Rishi Varatantu, he wanted to offer a dakshina to his Guru. Although the guru refused initially, he later asked for 140 million gold coins. The student approached King Raghu for the coins, because he was renowned for his generosity. Within three days of the student's request, King Raghu asked the God of Wealth - Kuber - to create a rain of gold coins near the apati and shanu trees. After presenting the promised gold coins to his guru, Kautsa distributed the rest of the coins to the needy, on the day of Dussehra. Since then, people loot the leaves of apati trees and present to each other as a symbol of gold, on Dussehra.

Shami Tree
            Another legend connected to the origin of Dusshera finds place in the greatest Hindu epic - Mahabharata. According to a story, Pandavas where banished by Kauravas for 12 years and 1 year of disguise, because the former were defeated in gambling (chausar) by the latter. Subsequently, Pandavas decided to spend their first 12 years of exile in the woods and the last year in disguise. Since they were asked to remain incognito during that period, Pandavas did not want to be exposed to others. Therefore, they lay aside their divine and powerful weapons during the exile. They concealed their weapons under the shami tree, situated close to the place of their residence. At the end of every year of the exile, Pandavas came to the shami tree to check whether their weapons were there.

           Whenever Pandavas approached the tree, they worshipped it and Goddess Durga, the presiding deity. In the mean time, Kauravas were making every attempt to trace Pandavas, so that they could extend the exile time, because it was said that if they were found, they would have to spend another 12 years in the woods. However, the Kauravas could find the Pandavas only past the stipulated time. Subsequently, the Pandavas went to the shami tree, fetched their concealed weapons and went straight to the battle field to fight the Kauravas. Pandavas emerged victorious. The event took place in dasami and since good had achieved victory over the evil, it came to be known as Vijayadashmi. Since then, people hug each other under the shami tree and exchange its leaves.

Science behind:-

During these 10 days of Dasara, huge idols of Ravana, Kumbhakarna (brother of Ravana) & Meghanad (son of Ravana) are erected and are set on fire by the enthusiastic youth at the sun set. After Dasara, the hot weather of the summer ends, especially in North India and as the winter starts, the cold weather becomes breeding ground for many kinds of infections.  Hence burning huge Ravana statues filled with the crackers containing phosphorous purifies the atmosphere. At the same time the temples perform Chandi Homa or Durga Homa which also helps in purifying the atmosphere. 

Many houses also perform Aditya Homa as a Shanti Yagna and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for 9 days. All these Yagna Performances are to create powerful agents into the atmosphere surrounding the house so as to keep the household environment clean & healthy. Some houses perform Yagnas 3 times daily along with sandhya vandana, called as Aahavaneeya Agni, Grahapatya Agni, Dakshina Agni. In addition to this, the Aditya Homa is performed with the Maha Surya Mantras and the Aruna Prapathaka of the Yajurveda. The effect of these mantras is to keep the heart, brain and digestive functions of the body in balance. The imbalances in these occur in the absence of adequate sunlight in the winter months.

Significance of Navaratri

As per Indian Vedic Astrology nine planets are (1) Ravi (Sun), (2) Chandra (Moon), (3) Mangal/Bhaum (Mars), (4) Budha (Mercury), (5) Guru/Bruhaspati (Jupiter), (6) Shukra (Venus), (7) Shani (Saturn), (8) Rahu (North Node) & (9) Ketu (South Node).
Human body has nine openings (1) 2 for seeing - Chakshu (Eyes), (2) 2 for hearing - Karna (Ears), (3) 2 for breathing - Nasika (Nostrils), (4) 1 for speech & eating – Mouth, (5) 1 for Malotsarjan - Anus & (6) 1 for Mutrotsarjan – urinary opening. 

If the planets favor & all the openings of the human body are kept under proper control, the human life is bound to be a great success.

Navaratri means "nine nights", which we must use to seek blessings from the nine planets and control our openings.  In the worship of the goddesses during Navaratri, one of the planets should be worshipped & one of the openings should be cleaned each day, not externally but with heart, mind and soul focused. Bodily actions are ephemeral. The body derives its value from the spirit within. Hence it should be regarded as a sacred temple.

Navaratri festival is observed ten days, out of which nine for cleansing one's self of all impurities, in order to experience the divinity within & the last day is dedicated to "worship of weapons (Aayudha Pooja). The weapons to be worshipped are the divine powers & virtues within. When the divine is worshipped in this way, one is bound to progress spiritually.


  1. Great information. And what amazing photographs ! Great going :)

  2. Thanks for the Compliments.. Photographs clicked across Bengal and Andhra by me. :)