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Dussehra Celebration
The tenth day of the Navaratri festival is known as Dussehra in India.
1. Vijayadashami
Vijayadashami also known as Dasara, Dashahara, Dussehra, Dashain (in Nepal), Navratri or Durgotsav is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated in various forms, across Nepal, India and Bangladesh.The name Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit Dasha hara literally means The sun will not rise (Dasha(sun) and Hara(defeat)) referring to Lord Rama victory over the ten headed demon king Ravana. The day also marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demons Mahishasur. The name Dussehra is also derived from Sanskrit Dasha Ahaha Dasharahaha Dasharaha. Ahaha means day. Example Aharnisha is derived from Ahaha nisha. Goddess fought with evils for 9 nights and 10 days. The name Vijayadashami is also derived from the Sanskrit words Vijaya dashami literally meaning the victory on the dashami (Dashmi being the tenth lunar day of the Hindu calendar month). Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated twenty days after Dasara.
2. Significance
As the name suggests Vijayadashmi or Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar which corresponds to September or October of the Gregorian calendar.The first nine days are celebrated as Maha Navratri(Devnagari nine nights ) or Sharada Navratri (the most important Navratri) and culminates on the tenth day as Dasara.In India, the harvest season begins at this time and so the Mother Goddess is invoked to start the new harvest season and reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil. This is done through religious performances and rituals which are thought to invoke cosmic forces that rejuvenate the soil. Many people of the Hindu faith observe through social gatherings and food offerings to the gods at home and in temples throughout India and Nepal.
3. Victory of Lord Rama over Ravana
As per Hindu religion, on this day in the Treta Yug, King Rama, also called Shri Ram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue Sita.The entire narrative is recorded in the epic Ramayana, a Hindu scripture.Rama had performed Chandi Homa and invoked the blessings of Durga, who blessed Rama with secret knowledge of the way to kill Ravana. On the day of Ashvin Shukla Dashami, Rama party found Sita and defeated Ravana. Thus it is termed as Vijaya Dashami. Based on the inferences from Valmiki Ramayana, Kalidas Raghuvans, Tulsidas Ram Charit Manas, and Keshavdas Ram Chandra Yas Chandrika as well as common perception in India, Rama, Sita, and of Lakshmana returned to Ayodhya on the 30th day of Ashvin (19 20 days after Vijayadashmi). To mark the return of Lord Rama, in the evening, the residents of Ayodhya lit their city with millions of earthen lamps (called Deepak). Since then, this day is celebrated in India as Deepawali or Diwali.Many people perform Aditya Homa as a Shanti Yagna and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for 5 days. These Yagna performances are thought to create powerful agents in the atmosphere surrounding the house that will keep the household environment clean and healthy.
4. Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasura
Some of the demons, or Asuras, were very powerful and ambitious and continually tried to defeat the Devas, or Gods, and capture Heaven. One Asura, Mahishasura, in the form of a buffalo, grew very powerful and created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership, the Asuras defeated the Devas. The world was crushed under Mahishasura tyranny, the Devas joined their energies into Shakti, a single mass of incandescent energy, to kill Mahishasura.A very powerful band of lightning emerged from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and a young, beautiful female virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her. This Shakti coalesced to form the goddess Durga. Riding on a lion, who assisted her, Durga fought Mahishasura. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashvin shukla paksha, Mahishasura was defeated and killed by Durga. Hence Dasha Hara is also known as Navratri or Durgotsav and is a celebration of Durga victory. Durga, as Consort of Lord Shiva, represents two forms of female energy one mild and protective and the other fierce and destructive.
5. Homecoming of Durga Maata
Daksha, the Lord of the Earth, and his wife Prasuti, had a daughter called Sati. As a child, Sati started worshipping Lord Shiva as her would be husband. Lord Shiva was pleased with the Sati worship of him and married her. Daksha was against their marriage but could not prevent it. Daksha arranged a yagna to which everyone except Lord Shiva was invited. Sati, feeling ashamed of her father behaviour and shocked by the attitude meted towards her husband, killed herself. Lord Shiva was anguished when he discovered this. He lifted Sati body on his shoulders and started dancing. As the supreme power was dancing with wrath, the world was on the verge of destruction.Then Lord Narayana came forward as a saviour and used his Chakra to cut Sati body into pieces. Those pieces fell from the shoulders of the dancing Shiva and scattered throughout the Indian subcontinent. Shiva was pacified when the last piece fell from his shoulder. Lord Narayana revived Sati. The places where the pieces of Sati fell are known as the Shakti Piths or energy pits. Kalighat in Kolkata, Kamakshya near Guwahati and Vaishnav Devi in Jammu are three of these places.In her next birth, Sati was born as Parvati or Shaila Putri (First form of Durga), the daughter of Himalaya. Lord Narayana asked Shiva to forgive Daksha. Ever since, peace was restored and Durga with her children Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kartikeya, Ganesh and her two sakhis Jaya and Vijaya visit her parents each year during the season of Sharatkal or autumn, when Durga Puja is celebrated.


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