Vijayadashami (Sanskrit: विजयदशमी) also known as Dussehra (Sanskrit: दशहरा) or Ayudhapuja (Sanskrit: आयुधपूजा), is an important Hindu festival celebrated in a variety of ways in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka. “Dussehra” is derived from Sanskrit; Dasha-hara is a form of Dashanan ravan (“Ravana’s defeat”).
The day marks the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura. The goddess fought with evil for ten days and nine nights. “Vijayadashami” is derived from the Sanskrit vijaya-dashami (victory on the dashami: the tenth day of the Hindu month). Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated twenty days after Vijayadashami.
Vijayadashami is celebrated on the tenth day of brighter fortnight the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu calendar, corresponding to September or October of the Gregorian calendar. The first nine days are celebrated as Navratri (Devnagari: नवरात्रि, “nine nights”), culminating on the tenth day as Dussehra.
Since the harvest season begins in india and Nepal at this time, the Durga is invoked by religious rituals to begin the harvest season and renew the fertility of the soil. Many Hindus observe the festival with social gatherings and food offerings to the gods at home and in temples throughout india and Nepal.
Victory of Ram over Ravan
According to legend, Rama was the eldest son of King Dashrath and was beloved of all because of his genial ways. The king decided to hand over his throne to him and retire. However, Rama’s stepmother wanted her own son Bharata to be the king and forced the king to banish Rama from Ayodhya, the kingdom and give him fourteen years of exile. Rama gladly accepted the stepmother’s wishes and left the palace and the kingdom with his wife Sita, and brother Lakshmana. The grief-stricken father soon died. However, when Bharata who was on a visit to his maternal grandfather came back and came to know what his mother had done, he immediately set out to being his brother back from the forest. “However, though Rama was glad to welcome his brother, he refused to go back to the kingdom before the term expired.
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However, Rama had another loss at hand as the demon-king Ravana, kidnapped his wife Sita and took her away to his kingdom. This became the reason behind the long search and the various events that in time, led to the destruction of Ravana by the hands of Ravan with the help of the monkey army he had befriended on the way. Dussehra is the day, when Rama killed Ravana and won back his wife (Hence also called Vijayadashmi) who had managed to save her honor from the dirty hands of Ravana.
Durga’s victory over Mahishasur
According to Hindu mythology a demon named Mahishasura, earned the favor of Lord Shiva after a long and hard penance. Lord Shiva, impressed with his devotion, blessed him that no man or deity would be able to kill him and that only a woman can kill him. Mahishasur was very pleased with this boon as he thought that a woman can never defeat him. Arrogant Mahishasura started his reign of terror over the Universe and people were killed mercilessly. He even attacked the abode of the gods and conquered the heavens and became their leader.
The Defeat Of Gods
After their defeat and humiliation at the hands of Mahishasur, the gods took refuge under Lord Brahma, who took them to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The only solution left was the creation of a woman who possess the ultimate power to fight and defeat Mahishasur. Pure energy blazed forth from Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – the trinity forming the pure energy of Godhood, all concentrating at one point that took the form of Goddess Durga.
Culmination Of Energies
Her face reflected the light of Shiva, her ten arms were from Lord Vishnu, her feet were from Lord Brahma, the tresses were formed from the light of Yama, the god of death and the two breasts were formed from the light of Somanath, the Moon God, the waist from the light of Indra, the king of gods, the legs and thighs from the light of Varun, the god of oceans and hips from the light of Bhoodev (Earth), the toes from the light of Surya (Sun God), fingers of the hand from the light of the Vasus, the children of Goddess river Ganga and nose from the light of Kuber, the keeper of wealth for the Gods. The teeth were formed from the light of Prajapati, the lord of creatures, the Triad of her eyes was born from the light of Agni, the Fire God, the eyebrows from the two Sandhyas,ie, sunrise and sunset, the ears from the light of Vayu, the god of Wind. Thus from the energy of these gods, as well as from many other gods, was formed the goddess Durga.
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Power Of Weapons
Page 5The gods then gifted the goddess with their weapons and other divine objects to help her in her battle with the demon, Mahishasura. Lord Shiva gave her a trident while Lord Vishnu gave her a disc. Varuna, gave her a conch and noose, and Agni gave her a spear. From Vayu, she received arrows. Indra, gave her a thunderbolt, and the gift of his white-skinned elephant Airavata was a bell. From Yama, she received a sword and shield and from Vishwakarma (god of Architecture), an axe and armor. The god of mountains, Himavat gifted her with jewels and a lion to ride on. Durga was also given many other precious and magical gifts, new clothing, and a garland of immortal lotuses for her head and breasts.
The beautiful Durga, bedecked in jewels and golden armor and equipped with the fearsome weaponry of the gods, was ready to engage in battle with the fierce and cruel Mahishasura. Mahishasura and his demon allies found their attention drawn from heaven to Earth, as Durga’s power moved its way towards heaven. Though confident of their power and control in heaven, the demons could not help being awestruck.
As Mahishasura’s armies were struck down effortlessly by Durga, it became obvious to him that he was not as secure in heaven as he had thought. No demon could fight her and win. Her breath would replenish her armies – bringing back to life all of her soldiers who fell. The demons were in chaos and were easily defeated and captured. Mahishasura was shocked and enraged by the disastrous events on the battlefield. He took on the form of a demonic buffalo, and charged at the divine soldiers of Durga, goring and killing many and lashing out with his whip-like tail. Durga’s lion pounced on the demon-buffalo and engaged him in a battle. While he was thus engaged, Durga threw her noose around his neck.
The terror and torment of Ravana had burdened the Dharti (earth) with an immense load of s …
Mahishasura then assumed the form of a lion and when Durga beheaded the lion, Mahishasura escaped in the form of a man who was immediately face to face with a volley of arrows from Durga. The demon escaped yet again and then having assumed the form of a huge elephant, battered Durga’s lion with a tusk. With her sword Durga hacked the tusk into pieces.
The demon reverted once more to the form of the wild buffalo. He hid himself in the mountains from where he hurled boulders at Durga with his horns. Durga drank the divine nectar, the gift of Kuber. She then pounced on Mahishasura, pushing him to the ground with her left leg. She grasped his head in one hand, pierced him with her sharp trident held in another, and with yet another of her ten hands she wielded her bright sword, beheading him. At last he fell dead, and the scattered surviving remnants of his once invincible army fled in terror.
Day 10 – Vijayadashami – Dashera – Story
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