Happy Dussehra to all of you. Hope this festive season brings lots of joy to all of you.On the eve of Dussehra, I would like to introduce you about the history, significance, origin of Dussehra and how it is celebrated in our telugu states(Telangana & AP)
Vijayadashami also known as Dussehra or navaratri is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated in various forms across the world.The name Dussehra is derived from sanskrit Dasha-hara literally means removal of ten 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.
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 calender. The first nine days are celebrated as Maha Navratri or Sharada Navratri (the most important Navaratri) 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.
Victory of God Rama over Ravana:
On this day in the Treta Yug, Lord Rama, killed the great demon Ravana. 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 defeated Ravana. Thus it is termed as Vijaya Dashami
Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasura
The world was crushed under Mahishasura’s(Asura) tyranny, the Devas combined 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 & Maheshwara 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’s victory. Durga, as Consort of Lord Shiva, represents two forms of female energy – one mild and protective and the other fierce and destructive.
In the age of Dwaparayuga, Pandavas – hid their weapons in a hole in a Shami tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat. After an year, on Vijayadashmi, they recovered the weapons, declared their true identities and defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle. Since that day, Shami trees and weapons have been worshipped and the exchange of Shami leaves on Vijayadashmi has been a symbol of good will and victory. This is also called Shami/Jammi Puja.
Kautsa’s Guru Dakshina:
Kautsa, the young son of a Brahmin called Devdatt. After completing his education with Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting Guru Dakshina, a present. The guru said, “Kautsa, to give dakshina in return for learning wisdom is not appropriate. Graduation of the disciple makes the guru happy, and that is the real Guru Dakshina.” Kautsa was not satisfied. He still felt it was his duty to give his guru something. The guru said, “All right, if you insist on giving me dakshina, then give me 140 million gold coins, 10 million for each of the 14 sciences I have taught you.”
Kautsa went to King Raghu. Raghuraja was an ancestor of Lord Rama, famous for his generosity. But just at that time he had spent all his money on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. Raghuraja asked Kautsa to return in three days. Raghuraja immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra. Indra summoned kuber, the god of wealth. Indra told Kuber, “Make rain full of gold coins, fall on the Shanu and Aapati trees around Raghuraja’s city of Ayodhya.” The rain of gold coins began to fall. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, and Kautsa hastened to offer the coins to Varatantu Rishi. Guru had asked only 140 millions, so he gave the rest back to Kautsa.
Kautsa was not interested in money, considering honour to be more valuable than wealth. He asked the king to take the remaining gold coins back. But the king refused, as kings do not take back the daan (gift). Finally Kautsa distributed the gold coins to the people of Ayodhya on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami. In remembrance of this event, there has been a custom of plucking the leaves of the Aapati tree, and then people present these leaves to one another as gold.
Celebrations and Rituals in Andhra Pradesh
Vijayadashami has great importance in the Telugu household. For life events such as starting a new business/ venture, or buying a new home or vehicle, rituals take place on this auspicious day. They perform Ayudha puja where they sanctify vehicles and other new items.
My mom while performing Ayudha puja
That’s me with my parents
In the evenings, a procession is taken up in all major cities where people dress up as characters from the Ramayana and perform stage shows called Ramlila. Huge effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Indrajit or Meghanada are burned, signifying victory of Lord Rama.
In the Telangana region, younger family members usually pay respects to their elders by giving them leaves of Shami tree / Jammitree, and seeking their blessings.In Hyderabad, Durga Puja is being celebrated for more than 60 years now. The concluding event, Theppotsavam (boat festival) is an eye-catching event held on Vijaya Dasami at Krishna – Thungabhadra sangamam (confluence of River Krishna and Tungabhadra).
Girls play bathukamma by placing a clay pot decorated with flowers around which they dance. This festival is celebrated in all temples of Durga. Shodasa Upacharam is offered to her.
Claypot decorated with flowers
celebrations @ Hyderguda
During Navratri (“nine nights”), Goddess Durga is decorated in her different aspects like Bala Tripura Sundari, Mahishasura Mardhini, Annapoorna, Kali, Raja Rajeshwari, Kanaka Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Gayatri Devi. On the river banks of Krishna at Vijayawada, in an age-old temple of “Sri Durga Malleswar Swami” and on a hill called “Indra-Kila-Adri”, Dasara & Navratri are celebrated every year with great pomp & show and tens of thousands of people visit this temple during this time. These celebrations are concluded on the tenth day of “Vijaya Dashami”, which is usually a national holiday. courtesy:wikipedia