Vijaya Dashami also known as Dasara, Dashahara, Navaratri,
Durgotdsav… is one of the
very important & fascinating festivals of India, which is celebrated in the
lunar month of Ashwin (usually in September or October) from the Shukla Paksha
Pratipada (the next of the New moon day of Bhadrapada) to the Dashami or the
tenth day of Ashwin.
This festival is celebrated not only in India but in almost all eastern
countries like Java, Sumatra, Japan etc… Dasara is Nepal’s national festival.
Word DASARA is derived from Sanskrit words “Dasha” & “hara”
meaning removing the ten (10). This is the most auspicious festival in the
Dakshinaayana or in the Southern hemisphere motion of the Sun.
In Sanskrit, ‘Vijaya’
means Victory and ‘Dashami’ means 10th day. ‘Thus Vijaya Dashami’ means victory
on the 10th day.
Dasara is also known as Navaratri, as in the first nine days
the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped and invoked in different
manifestations of her Shakti. The 10th day is in honor of Durga Devi.
The basic purpose behind this festival is to worship feminine principle of the
Universe in the form of the divine mother to remind the teachings of the
Taitareeya Upanishad, “Matru Devo Bhava.” Essence of the navaratri celebration
at social level is to remind & respect all the women, who are the guardians of
the family, culture, and national integrity, to take lead in times of crisis to
guide the humanity towards the path of social justice, righteousness, equality,
love, and divinity.
Durga is worshipped as the main deity of Navaratri by all the
segments of society including tribal communities. Dasara coincide with the
period of rest & leisure of the farmers after their strenuous hard work in their
farms & fields, hence they invoke blessings of Durga in order to have a rich
harvest in the next coming season.
India harvest season begins at this time and as mother earth is the source of
all food the Mother Goddess is invoked to start afresh the new harvest season
and to reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil by doing religious
performances and rituals which invoke cosmic forces for the rejuvenation of the
On the day of Dasara, statues of the Goddess Durga are
submerged in the river waters. These statues are made with the clay & the pooja
is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are powerful
disinfectants and are mixed in the river waters. This makes water useful
for the farmers & yields better crops.
Maharaj, the founder of the Hindawi (Hindu) Swarajya used to always worship Lord
Shiva & Goddess Durga in the form of goddess Bhawani before any military
expedition. Goddess Bhavani had blessed Shivaji Maharaj with her own sword
called “Bhavani Talwar”.
and huge machines in factories are all decorated and worshipped as Dasara is
also treated as Vishwakarma Divas – the National Labor Day of
Veda Vyasa is considered as the foremost Guru and Vijayadasami is also
celebrated as Vyasa puja.
Dasara is the festival of Victory of Good over Bad, God over
1st Muhurta is Gudhi Padva (Chaitra shukla pratipada),
2nd Muhurta is Akshaya Trutiya (Vaishakh shukla trutiya)
3rd Muhurta is Dasara/Vijaya Dashami (Ashwin shukla
4th Muhurta Padva in Diwali (Kartik shukla pratipada) is
considered as half Muhurta.
As per Hindu
Religion, Dasara is considered as one of the 3 ½ auspicious days (Shubha Muhurta).
It is proven over years and years that any new venture started on this day is
bound to be successful. Hence in most parts of India Dasara is selected for
starting a new businesses, construction activities (house, building, hospital),
taking possession of new house, buying new vehicle, buying gold, booking the
first order for the business etc…
Many parents start
the learning activity for their child on Dasara.
On Dasara farmers
start their new crop season & the work in the field, manufacturers worship their
machines, traders worship their books of account, intellectuals worship their
Pen, Calculators, Computers and children worship their school books, notebooks,
drawing material etc…
As per Indian Vedic Astrology nine planets are (1) Ravi (Sun), (2)
Chandra (Moon), (3) Mangal/Bhaum (Mars), (4) Budha (Mercury), (5) Guru/Bruhaspati
(Jupiter), (6) Shukra (Venus), (7) Shani (Saturn), (8) Rahu (North Node) & (9)
Ketu (South Node).
Human body has nine openings (1) 2 for seeing – Chakshu (Eyes), (2)
2 for hearing – Karna (Ears), (3) 2 for breathing – Nasika (Nostrils), (4) 1 for
speech & eating – Mouth, (5) 1 for Malotsarjan – Anus & (6) 1 for Mutrotsarjan –
If the planets favor & all the openings of the human body are kept
under proper control, the human life is bound to be a great success.
Navaratri means “nine nights”, which we must use to seek blessings
from the nine planets and control our openings. In the worship of the goddesses
during Navaratri, one of the planets should be worshipped & one of the openings
should be cleaned each day, not externally but with heart, mind and soul
focused. Bodily actions are ephemeral. The body derives its value from the
spirit within. Hence it should be regarded as a sacred temple.
Navaratri festival is observed ten days, out of which nine for
cleansing one’s self of all impurities, in order to experience the divinity
within & the last day is dedicated to “worship of weapons (Aayudha Pooja). The
weapons to be worshipped are the divine powers & virtues within. When the divine
is worshipped in this way, one is bound to progress spiritually.
In most of the northern India (Uttar
Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Hariyana
etc…) and some parts of Maharashtra Dasara is celebrated more in honor of Rama.
During these 10 days many plays & dramas based on the epic of Ramayana are
performed. These are called Ramlila.
Dasara is celebrated as Durga Puja. Idols of the goddess Durga are worshipped
for nine days, and on the tenth day immersed in a river or pond. In Bengal,
Assam & Orissa, Durga is also worshipped as Kali Mata as a symbol of Shakti
In Mysore –
Karanataka, decorated elephants lead a colorful procession through the streets
of the city.
In some regions all
the three principal goddesses – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped
during this festival, each for 3 days of the Navaratri.
Rajasthan and most of Maharashtra during the Navaratri days the ladies & gents
play a typical dance called Raas Garba every night.
In USA there are
many social & community groups celebrate Durga Pooja.
The stories behind celebration of Dasara are as
On this day in the Treta Yug,
Shri Ram (7th incarnation of Vishnu), killed the great demon Ravan who had
abducted Ram’s wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along, with his brother
Lakshman follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to
rescue his wife Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days.
Rama had performed “Chandi Hom” and
invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana. Durga blessed Rama with the
secret to kill Ravana. Ravana was defeated in his own kingdom of Lanka
by Rama & the vanarsena. Rama with Sita & Laxman
returned victorious to his
kingdom of Ayodhya
on the Ashwin Shukla dashami.
This victory of Rama is since
then celebrated as “Vijaya Dashami”.
So also prior to the defeat
of Ravana, when Rambhakt Shri Hanuman went to Lanka to search Sita, he found her
on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami.
During these 10 days of Dasara, huge idols of Ravana, Kumbhakarna
(brother of Ravana) & Meghanad (son of Ravana) are erected and are set on fire
by the enthusiastic youth at the sun set.
After Dasara, the hot weather of the summer ends,
especially in North
India and as the winter starts, the cold weather becomes breeding ground for
many kinds of infections. Hence burning huge Ravana statues filled with the
crackers containing phosphorous purifies the atmosphere. At the same time the
temples perform Chandi Homa or Durga Homa which also helps in purifying the
Many houses also perform Aditya Homa as a Shanti Yagna and
recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for 9 days. All these Yagna Performances
are to create powerful agents into the atmosphere surrounding the house so as to
keep the household environment clean & healthy.
The purpose of performing these homas is also to kill &
sacrifice the 10 bad qualities, which are represented by ten heads of Ravana as
(1) Kama vasana (Lust), (2) Krodha (Anger), (3) Moha (delusoion),
(4) Lobha (Greed), (5) Mada (Over Pride), (6) Matsara (Jealousy), (7) Manas
(Mind), (8) Buddhi (Intellect), (9) Chitta (will) & (10) Ahankara (Ego).
Some houses perform Yagnas 3 times daily along with sandhya
vandana, called as Aahavaneeya Agni, Grahapatya Agni, Dakshina Agni. In addition
to this, the Aditya Homa is performed with the Maha Surya Mantras and the Aruna
Prapathaka of the Yajurveda. The effect of these mantras is to keep the heart,
brain and digestive functions of the body in balance. The imbalances in these
occur in the absence of adequate sunlight in the winter months.
Some of the Aasuras (Demons) were very powerful and
ambitious, and continually tried to defeat Gods and capture the Heaven. One
such Aasura called Mahishasur, who looked like a buffalo, grew very powerful &
created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership the Aasuras even defeated the
Devas (Gods), all of whom were powerless including Brahma, Vishnu etc… Finally,
when the world was getting crushed under Mahishasura’s tyranny, the Devas came
together & contributed their individual energy to form “Shakti” a single mass of
incandescent energy to fight & kill Mahishasur.
A very powerful band of lightening dazzled from the mouths of
Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh (Shiva) and a beautiful, magnificent, radiant young
virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to
her. This Shakti coalesced in the form of Goddess Durga.
Durga with weapons in her ten hands, riding on Lion, who
assisted her in the fight, took on Mahishasur. The battle raged for nine days
and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashwin shukla paksha, the evil demon
Mahishasur was defeated & killed by Durga.
Hence Dasara is also
known as Navaratra or Durgotsava and is a celebration of victory of Goddess
Durga. Durga as Consort of Lord Shiva represents two forms of female energy –
one mild & protective and the other fierce & destructive.
In Dwapar Yuga, after Pandavas lost to Kauravas in the game
of Dice, they had to proceed to 12 years of “Vanwas” (exile to forest) followed by one year of Adnyatwas. Pandavas spent 12 years
in forest and hid their weapons in a hole on a “Shami” tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to
complete the last one year of Adnyatwas. After the
completion of that year on Vijayadashmi they took the weapons from the Shami
tree, declared their true identity & defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King
Virat to steal his cattle wealth.
day the exchange of Shami leaves on Dassera day became symbols of good, will and
victory. Hence on Dasara Shami Tree & the weapons are worshipped.
Kautsa’s Gurudakshina – Story behind exchanging Aapti
Tree leaves as
Kautsa, the young
son of Devdatt, a Brahmin, was living in the city of Paithan. After completing
education from Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting Guru Dakshina
But Guru said, “Kautsa,
to give ‘dakshina’ in return for learning wisdom is not proper. Graduation of
the disciple makes the guru happy, and this is the real Guru Dakshina.”
Kautsa was not
satisfied. He still felt it was his duty to give his guru something. Finally
the guru said, “Alright, if you insist on giving me dakshina, so 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 emptied all his coffers on the Brahmins, after
performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. He asked Kautsa to give him three days’
time. Raghuraja immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra. Indra
summoned Kuber, the god of wealth. Indra told Kuber, “Make a rain of gold coins
fall on the “Shanu” and “Aapati” trees round 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. In those days honor was considered more valuable than wealth. He asked
the king to take the remaining gold coins back. But the king refused to take
them back as kings do not take back the daan (gift).
Kautsa distributed the gold coins to the people of Ayodhya on the day of Ashwin
shukla dashami. In remembrance of this event the custom is kept of looting the
leaves of the “Aapati” trees, and people present each other these leaves as “sone”
In ancient times
kings used the feast of Dasara to cross the frontier and fight against their
neighboring kingdoms. This border crossing is known as “simollanghan”. Thus
Dasara also marks the beginning of the war season.
Panditji also got
married on the Shubha Muhurta of Dasara in the year 1982.