October 23, 2012

Dusshera - Celebrations of Worshiping Goddess Durga, Burning Ravana’s Statues

Dussehra is a very significant festival for Hindus. It is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm throughout the country. Dussehra festival is also known as Vijay Dashami. It is a day which is a symbol for the victory of truth over lies, good over evil.

According to the lunar calendar Dussehra festival is observed on the tenth day in Shukla Paksha of Ashwin month. Generally, Dussehra falls in the months of September or October each year. Dussehra festival in the year 2012 is on October 24.
There are a number of reasons for the celebration of Dussehra festival. The most popular reason for the celebration of Dussehra festival in northern India is that on this particular day Lord Rama killed the demon Ravanna for abducting his wife Seeta. It is for this reason Dussehra festival is considered as a day which stands for the   conquest of righteousness over wickedness.
Dussehra festival is celebrated by igniting the effigies of demon Ravanna and his brothers Meghdoot and Kumbhkaran. These effigies are made huge and have crackers in them. People start making these effigies many days before the day of Dussehra festival. It is a very significant day of ‘Ramleela' as well.
In other parts of the country Dussehra festival is celebrated for different reasons.  In west Bengal Dussehra is the final day of Durga Puja of Navratri (nine days of fasting). On this very day, Durga Visarjan takes place.
According to another story Dussehra festival is taken to be a hopeful time to pray tool used at work. It is done for the reason that, according to the fable in the epic Mahabharata, Arjuna (one of the Pandavas) concealed his weapons in a tree. He returned after a year on the day of Dussehra and found his weapons safe. He then worshiped the weapons and the tree.
Thus, in accordance to every story Dussehra festival will tell again people of the actuality that reality for all time wins and inspires them to go on the course of ‘dharma'. Dussehra festival will be the day to stand for the take-over of good over evil. It is as a result considered as a positive day.
The Dussehra festival celebration is unique in its perspective and significance. Is the celebration of the Victory of Good over Evil. 
On the day of Dussehra / Vijay dashmi, Ram, killed the great demon Ravan, who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka . Rama, who was a devout believer of Durga, the Goddess of War, prayed to her for the first nine days of battle and killed the evil Ravana on the 10th day along, with his brother Lakshman follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his lovely wife Sita. He shot Ravana with a bow that pierced his navel. Out flowed the nectar of immortality that was stored in a pot in his navel, thus destroying his invincibility. Sita had been returned to her husband Ram and they now make their way to Ayodhya in triumph and glory. Thus, it is on the Diwali day that Lord Ram, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the Treta Yug, returned to his capital Ayodhya after the exile of fourteen Years. 

Consequently, to commemorate the return of Ram, Sita and Lakshman to Ayodhya, people celebrate Diwali with the bursting of crackers and by lighting up their houses with earthen diyas. This grand style of celebration have continued, year after year. To this day, the whole of Ramayana is enacted in dramas staged in huge pandals and maidans, in cities, towns and villages, on the occasion of Dussehra and Diwali. 

Dussehra is the culmination of Navaratis in India. Popularly known as Vijayadashmi, Dussehra is celebrated with great enthusiasm, all over India. It is observed differently in different parts of the country, depending upon the legend that is followed in each region. In North India, Ramlila forms the highlight of Dusshera, while in south India, it is the triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura that is celebrated. Eastern state of West Bengal has its own story connected to the festival, while in Mysore the concept of Shami tree is centered. Learn about the celebrations of Dussehra in different parts of India, by going through the following lines.

Organizing Dussehra celebrations in a housing society can be an absolutely thrilling experience, mainly if you take into consideration the many rituals and rites associated with this festival. Dussehra is one of the most awaited festivals in India, given the commercial and social extravaganza that accompanies the religious festival.

The Blend of Beliefs and Cultures

Dussehra is a festival that’s celebrated with different beliefs and rituals in across the country. A housing society is an ideal place to celebrate Dussehra, mainly because people who come from various parts of the country and from different cultural background stay in such apartment complexes as they provide a cosmopolitan and multi-cultural environment.

In your housing society, you can provide a stage where the Mysore Dasara can blend seamlessly with the north-Indian Navaratri and the Bengali Durga Puja, within the same premises. Children will be exposed to the various aspects of their own festivals, and they will be able to gain an understanding about the different festivals celebrated across all states.
Some Tips for Celebrating Dussehra

You’ll need to bring together many members from your housing society for the celebrations to be a success. Planning the strategy in advance can help. Always ensure that the apartment association is aware of what’s going on.

Allocate a budget for Dussehra celebrations. The source of funds can be in the form of donations from residents, and this can be collected before the event or in monthly amounts throughout the year. Local businesses may also be invited to set up stalls for food and entertainment purposes, and you can try and contact other businesses that can sponsor the event and put up advertisements.

Try and involve the maximum number of residents. Notices circulated well in advance before the celebrations can ensure that individual families don’t make other plans for the festivities. This increases the level of participation.

Detailed plans should be put in place for the day of the event. Detailed planning can help you avoid last minute modifications and inconveniences. The schedule for the event should be put up on notice boards and other common areas so that people know what to expect.

Ensure representation from the different communities of people who live within the complex. This will enrich the event and make it more enjoyable for everyone, without seeming bland.

Make sure that all government laws related to pandals, loudspeakers, and fireworks are abided by. This is something that the apartment association should take care of.

The food served can be across different cuisines, cooked up by representatives of the many communities present. It would be safe to stick to delectable vegetarian fare throughout the festivities.

Volunteers should be picked and invited from among the residents of the housing society. Dussehra celebrations are generally large-scale, so a handful of people may not be able to put all measures in place smoothly. A large, structured group of volunteers, with clear line of duties and reporting lines will help you execute the plans.

Safety and security measures like fire-extinguishers and first-aid-kits should be arranged, along with contact numbers of in-house doctors. Loudspeakers should be used minimally and a lost-and-found desk can be added too.

Cultural programs for children and adults, like rangoli, drawing, drama, dance, and singing or recitation competitions may be organized.

Dussehra celebrations in a housing society can provide a multi-cultural, enriching and enjoyable experience for all residents, irrespective of their age, culture or roots.

- Deepak Bhatt, October 23, 2012, 06:30 a.m.

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