Dussehra is one of the important festivals for Hindus, celebrated with zeal. Also termed as Vijayadashmi, it is preceded by Navratri, which has religious significance associated with it. As per the legends, Dusshera is the day when Lord Rama killed Ravana and rescued his wife - Sita. Therefore, as a symbol of victory of good over evil, Dusshera holds a special place among the myriad festivals that are celebrated by the Hindus. A number of rituals are observed during the festival. The traditions associated with the celebration of the festival are very interesting to witness. In this article, we have given information on the customs and rituals of Dussehra.
Customs & Traditions Of Dusshera
A number of customs are common for Dussehra, in different parts of India, one of them being Ramlila. The tradition of burning the effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnath on Ramlila is followed since ages, in the northern parts of the country. During the festival, Ramlila is conducted at a huge ground or 'maidan'. It is a fair, witnessed by hundreds of people, every year. Oversized effigies (of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkarna) are constructed a month prior to the festival. They are filled with crackers and erected on the eve of Dussehra, at the Ramlila maidan.
Artists disguised as Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Ravana head towards the maidan, with the procession of people, amidst the bursting of crackers. After arriving at the maidan, a small drama is enacted by the artists, depicting the climax of the war between Lord Rama and Ravana. As the climax approaches, the artist, acting as Rama, shoots an arrow towards the effigy of Ravana, in order to set it on fire. Subsequently, the effigy catches fire and then bursts. This is witnessed by hundreds of people, who rejoice on the 'defeat' of Ravana by Rama.
Visarjan Of Idol
In the eastern parts of the country, particularly in West Bengal, Durga Puja celebrations precede Dusshera. On the tenth day of the Pooja, that is, the day of Vijayadashmi, idol of Goddess Durga is immersed into the nearby river or lake, by the devotees. The devotees bid the farewell to the deity very ceremoniously, amidst a procession that sings Devi Songs and dances to the tune of dholaks (traditional drums). This custom is called 'Visarjan'. In the region, Vijayadashmi is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Ma Durga over Mahishasura, whom she killed.
The tenth day or Vijayadashmi is also the day of Vidyarambam (beginning of study) in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. People in the region worship Goddess Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of Wisdom, on Vijayadashmi. In the morning of the day, after a Puja, the books and implements (such as pen and musical instruments) are removed from the room. Thereafter, literates write a few alphabets on rice or sand and read out a few sentences from sacred books. It is considered auspicious to start learning any art form, such as music and dance, on this day.