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Old 08-28-2017, 04:15 AM
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Default Dussehra V/s Ramayana V/s Mahabharata

The Hindu festival of Dussehra or Vijayadashami marks the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. It is celebrated all over the India and in some parts of South Asia.

Dussehra and the Ramayana

A scene from the Ramlila being performed at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi; Ankit Gupta, wikimedia.org

The roots of Dussehra can be found in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Ramayana tells of how Ravana, the ten-headed demon king abducted Sita, Lord Rama’s wife. Lord Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, took the help of the monkey god, Hanuman and his forces to rescue Sita from Lanka. Dussehra, which literally means ‘removal of ten’, is celebrated to commemorate this victory over the ten-headed demon.

Dussehra and the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata tells of how the five Pandava brothers, who each had distinctive weapons, hid them in a Shami tree before going into exile. When they returned after a year, the weapons were exactly where they had left them. The Pandavas worshipped the Shami tree before going into a battle, which they won. Dussehra celebrates this victory.

Navratri and Goddess Durga

Another legend celebrates the victory of Maa Durga, the ten-handed goddess, over the demon Mahishasura, who became so powerful, he threatened the gods. Durga, an avatar of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva emerged, and using the weapons the gods gave her, raged a battle against Mahishasura, which lasted nine days and nine nights, celebrated as Navratri. The tenth day is celebrated as Durga Puja.

The distribution of “gold” leaves

Kautsa, the son of a Brahmin called Devdutta, lived in the city of Paithan. After finishing his education at Rishi Varatantu’s gurukul, the new graduate wished to offer guru dakshina to his guru, despite his refusal. When Kautsa insisted, his guru asked for 140 million gold coins, 10 million for each of the 14 sciences he had taught. Kautsa approached King Raghuraja who had donated all his wealth, but asked Lord Indra for help. Indra summoned Kuber, the god of wealth who rained gold coins, which fell on shami and aapta trees around Raghuraja’s Ayodhya. Kautsa offered the money to his guru and donated the excess to the city of Ayodhya. To celebrate this day, people greet each other with aapta leaves which are considered equivalent to gold.

Celebrating Dussehra

There are as many ways of celebrating this festival, the number of legends behind it. The expression and rituals differ from region to region.


Ramlila is a folk performance based on the fight between Rama and Ravana. This takes place in fairs arranged during Dussehra. Ravana effigies are burnt as a sign of victory over evil.

Goddess Worship

Navratri, the nine-day festival of Goddess Durga, also ends on the day of Dussehra. People worship idols of the Goddess Durga and books, which represent the goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. Weapons are also worshipped to show respect for their protection.

Exchange of aapta tree leaves

Aapta tree leaves are symbolic of the gold exchanged during the reign of Raghuraja. People exchange them as a sign of prosperity. Saffron-colored marigold flowers are also placed before idols. In many parts of India rituals revolve around the Shami tree.

Dussehra 2013

Dussehra is the last day of Navratri, the nine days of the Hindu month of Ashwin. In 2013, Dussehra falls on 14 October.

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