A discussion on Indian festivals is incomplete without talking about Dussehra. One of the most renowned festivals celebrated with great pomp and fervour all across the country is Dussehra. Dussehra is a significant Hindu festival that is observed with enthusiasm all over India. As per traditions, this day falls on the last day of Shardiya Navratri and Durga Puja.
According to the Hindu calendar, this pious festival is observed on the Dashami Tithi or the tenth day of the Shukla Paksha or the bright fortnight of the month of Ashwin. This festival falls in September or October as per the Gregorian calendar. Dussehra falls exactly 20 days before Diwali.
The unique thing about Indian festivals is that most of them have a moral lesson, and Dussehra is no exception! This renowned festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil. This auspicious festival teaches everyone that the truth will prevail and will always be victorious.
Let’s get to know in detail when Dussehra 2021 will be celebrated? What is the significance of this festival? And what are the rituals and celebrations associated with this festival?
The auspicious date and time of Vijayadashmi or Dussehra 2021 is given below-
Dussehra 2021- 15th October 2021 (Friday)
Vijayadashami 2021- 15th October 2021 (Friday)
Dashami Tithi Begins - 06:52 PM (14th October 2021)
Dashami Tithi Ends- 06:02 PM (15th October 2021)
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Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is a notable festival. It holds great relevance and importance for Indians. According to Hindu mythology, Dussehra is celebrated to mark the day on which Lord Rama achieved victory by killing Ravana, the ten-headed demon king of Lanka. After a fierce and arduous battle for nine days, Lord Rama defeated Ravana on the tenth day and successfully saved Goddess Sita (his wife) from Ravana's captivity.
People celebrate Dussehra in diverse ways in different parts of India. In some places in India, especially in West Bengal, the day of Dussehra is celebrated as Vijayadashami. The word 'Vijaya' means victory, and 'Dashami' denotes tenth. The auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami marks the end of Durga Puja. It symbolises the end of Mahishasura, who Goddess Durga killed to restore order and protect dharma. Goddess Durga, the embodiment of the ultimate Shakti, was created by the combined powers of the Gods to destroy Mahishasura. It is also commonly believed that Lord Rama also prayed to Goddess Durga for strength so that he could defeat Ravana. He worshipped the divine Goddess by offering her 108 blue lotuses. Goddess Durga was deeply pleased with his devotion and gave him her blessings which gave him the strength to defeat Ravana. His victory is celebrated as Dussehra.
The mythological tales portray how Lord Rama and Goddess Durga defeat evil (Ravana and Mahishasura) and ensure that goodness and truth get victory over evil. This is why Vijayadashami or Dussehra is a festival that symbolises the triumph of good over evil. This auspicious occasion also marks the journey of Goddess Durga back to Mount Kailash after her stay on Earth for ten days.
On Dussehra, 'Aparajita Puja' and 'Shami Puja' are some important rituals performed during the Aparahna time. In many regions in India, Goddess Aparajita is worshipped on the day of Vijayadashami. Goddess Aparajita is worshipped for victory. Before going on any journey, Goddess Aparajita is worshipped as it is believed her blessings can help make the journey successful and safe. Shami Puja is another ritual that is performed on Vijayadashami in many parts of India.
On the auspicious occasion of Dussehra, the Aparajita Puja should be performed in the Aparahna Kaal. Given below is the Puja Vidhi or method for Aparajita Puja.
First of all, choose a holy place in the Northeast direction from your house. This place of worship can also be near a garden or temple. It would be better if all the family members attended the Puja; but, this Puja can be done individually as well.
Purify the place of worship with the holy water from the Ganges, and with the help of sandalwood paste, make the Ashtadal Chakra (a ring of eight lotus petals).
After this, you should take the oath (Sankalp) that you are worshipping Goddess Aparajita for the peace and harmony of your home and family.
After doing this, invoke Goddess Aparajita with the mantra "Aparajitaya Namah" in the centre of the Ashtadal Chakra.
Now invoke Goddess Jaya with the mantra “Kriyashaktyai Namah”.
After this, you should invoke Goddess Vijaya with the mantra “Umayai Namah”.
Now you should perform Shodashopachara Puja with mantras- “Aparajitaya Namah, Jayayai Namah, Vijayayai Namah”.
Then you should pray with folded hands to the Goddess that you have completed the Puja to the best of your ability and urge the Goddess to accept your prayers and forgive you for any unintentional mistake.
After the completion of the Puja, offer obeisances.
Finally, complete the Puja by chanting the mantra given below.
“Haren Tu Vichitrena Bhasvatkanakamekhela.
Aparajita Bhadrata Karotu Vijayam Mam.”
On the occasion of Dussehra, the tradition of worshipping weapons has been going on in Sanatan Dharma since ancient times. On Vijayadashami, people also worship vehicles. This holy day is also regarded as auspicious for new beginnings; hence people begin their new work on Dussehra.
One cannot deny that Dussehra is celebrated with great reverence, ardour, and enthusiasm all over the country. On Dussehra in many places, especially in North India, large effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and his son Meghnath are constructed and then burnt in front of throngs of spectators. The practice of burning these giant effigies is seen as a symbol of Lord Rama's victory over evil. The act of burning down the effigies, known as Ravan Dahan, signifies the destruction of evil and urges everyone to follow the path of truth and virtue. Huge colourful melas or fairs are also organised. People celebrate by lighting fireworks and eating sweet delicacies.
In West Bengal, this auspicious day is celebrated as Vijayadashami, the last day of Durga Puja. The clay idols of Goddess Durga are immersed in rivers or water bodies. This marks the Goddess's journey back to Mount Kailash. Processions carrying the idols of Goddess Durga and her children to nearby water bodies can be seen everywhere. This is quite an emotional day, especially for Bengalis, as the last day of Durga Puja marks the departure of Goddess Durga. On this day, Bengali married women smear vermilion or sindoor on each other and celebrate. This is done as an essential ritual to bid farewell to the divine Goddess Durga. People also exchange greetings and sweets with their loved ones and celebrate the day with feasts.