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Navratri Navaratri festival preparations and performance arts collage.jpg
Vijayadasami reveres either Durga's or Rama's victory over evil depending on the region.[1]
Also called Dussehra, Dasara, Navrathri
Type Religious, Cultural
Significance Celebrates the victory of good over evil
Celebrations Marks the end of Durga Puja or Ramlila
Observances pandals (stages), plays, community gathering, recitation of scriptures, immersion of Durga or burning of Ravana
Date Ashvin (September or October)
2017 date 30 Sep, Sat[2]
2018 date 18 October, Thu (western India)
19 October, Fri (northern and eastern India)[3]`

Vijayadashami (IAST: Vijayadaśamī, pronounced [ʋɪʝəjəðəʃmɪ]]) also known as Dasahara, Dusshera, Dasara, Dussehra or Dashain is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navratri every year. It is observed on the tenth day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, the seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.[4][5][6]

Vijayadashami is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent.[7][1][8][4] In the southern, eastern and northeastern states of India, Vijayadashami marks the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga's victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to help restore dharma.[4][9] In the northern and western states, the festival is synonymously called Dussehra (also spelled Dasara, Dashahara). In these regions, it marks the end of "Ramlila" and remembers God Rama's victory over the Ravana. On the very same occasion; Arjuna alone defeated entire Kaurava army consisting of 100,000s of soldiers, Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Ashwatthama, Kripa, Duryodhana, Dushyasana, Shakuni etc. - there by significantly quoting a natural example of victory of Good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). Alternatively it marks a reverence for one of the aspects of goddess Devi such as Durga or Saraswati.[1][5][6]

Vijayadashami celebrations include processions to a river or ocean front that carry clay statues of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya, accompanied by music and chants, after which the images are immersed into the water for dissolution and a goodbye. Elsewhere, on Dasara, the towering effigies of Ravana symbolizing the evil are burnt with fireworks marking evil's destruction. The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami.[10][11][1]

Etymology & Nomenclature[edit]

Vijayadashami (Devanagari: विजयदशमि ) (Kannada: ವಿಜಯದಶಮಿ) (Telugu: విజయదశమి) is a composite of two words "Vijaya" (विजय) and "Dashami" (दशमी), which respectively mean "victory"[12] and "tenth,"[13] connoting the festival on the tenth day celebrating the victory of good over evil.[1][8] The same Hindu festival-related term, however, takes different forms in different regions of India and Nepal, as well as among Hindu minorities found elsewhere.[14]

According to James Lochtefeld, the word Dussehra (Devanagari: दशहर) (Kannada: ದಸರಾ ಹಬ್ಬ) is a variant of Dashahara which is a compound Sanskrit word composed of "dasham"(दशम) and "ahar" (अहर), respectively meaning "10" and "day".[15][16][17] According to Monier-Williams, Dus (दुश) means "bad, evil, sinful," and Hara (हर) means "removing, destroying," connoting "removing the bad, destroying the evil, sinful."[18][19]


Ravana kidnapped Sita. To free her; Rama requested Ravana to release her but situation became worse & led to the war. After performing severe penance for ten thousand years he received a boon from the creator-god Brahma: he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons, or spirits. He is portrayed as a powerful demon king who disturbs the penances of rishis. Lord Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat and kill him, thus circumventing the boon given by Lord Brahma. A deadly and fierceful battle takes place between Rama & Ravana in which finally Rama kills Ravana and ends the evil rule. Ravana has 10 heads. Killing of the one who has 10 heads is called Dusshera. Finally Dharma was established on the Earth because of Rama's victory over Ravana. Thus this festival is celebrated reminding the victories of Good over Evil.


In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas are known to have spent their thirteenth year of exile in disguise in the kingdom of Virata. Before going to Virata, they are known to have hung their celestial weapons in Shami tree for safe keeping for a year. [20] Bhima kills Kichaka. Hearing about the death of Kichaka, Duryodhana surmises that the Pandavas were hiding in Matsya. A host of Kaurava warriors attacks Virata, presumably to steal their cattle, but in reality, desiring to pierce the Pandavas' veil of anonymity. Full of bravado, Virata's son Uttar attempts to take on the army by himself while the rest of the Matsya army has been lured away to fight Susharma and the Trigartas. As suggested by Draupadi, Uttar takes Brihannala with him, as his charioteer. When he sees the Kaurava army, Uttar loses his nerve and attempts to flee. Then Arjuna reveals his identity and those of his brothers'. Arjuna takes Uttar to the tree where the Pandavas hid their weapons. The weapons were hidden in a Shami tree. Locals believe this happened at a village called 'Banapuram' [21]. 'Bana' in Sanskrit means arrows and 'Puram' means town. Located a few miles from Banapuram is Virataraju Gadde where Arjuna is believed to have killed Kichak and Archeological Survey of India recently excavated a Buddhist Stupa at this location near Nelakondapalli. Arjuna picks up his Gandiva after worshipping the tree as Shami tree safeguarded the Pandavas’ weapons for that complete year. Arjuna reties thread to Gandiva, simply drags& releases it- which produces terrible twang. At the same point of time, Kaurava warriors were eagerly waiting to spot Pandavas. Dispute chats takes place between Karna & Drona. Karna told Duryodhana that he would easily defeat Arjuna & don’t get threatened with Drona’s words since Drona was intentionally praising Arjuna as Arjuna was favourite student of Drona. Ashwatthama supports his father by praising Arjuna. Then Arjuna arrives the battle field. [22]. Eager to defend the land that had given him refuge, Arjuna engaged the legion of Kaurava warriors. The battle starts between Arjuna & entire Kuru Army. All the warriors including Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Kripa and Ashwathama together attacked Arjuna to kill him but Arjuna defeated all of them multiple times.[23] During the battle Arjuna also killed Sangramjit the foster brother of Karna and instead of taking the revenge of his brother, Karna took heroice flight in order to save his life from Arjuna. Karna tried to fly away from Arjuna but he could not since Arjuna invoked Sammohanaastra which made entire army fell asleep.[24]. This is the war in which Arjuna proved that he was the best archer in the world at his time. In this way Arjuna alone defeated entire Kuru army consisting of 100,000s of soldiers, Maharathis: Bhishma, Drona, Karna ; Atirathis: Kripa, Ashwatthama. One of the names of Arjuna is Vijaya- ever victorious. This incident took place on the same day in which Lord Rama killed Ravana. As it was Arjuna’s day; the day also became popular as “VIJAYA DASHAMI”.

Regional Variations In Hinduism[edit]

Northern India[edit]

Dasara is observed with the burning of Ravana effigies.

In most of northern and western India, Dasha-Hara (literally, "ten days") is celebrated in honour of Rama. Thousands of drama-dance-music plays based on the Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas (Ramlila) are performed at outdoor fairs across the land and in temporarily built staging grounds featuring effigies of the demons Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghanada. The effigies are burnt on bonfires in the evening of Vijayadashami-Dussehra.[6] While Dussehra is observed on the same day across India, the festivities leading to it vary. In many places, the "Rama Lila", or the brief version of the story of Rama, Sita and Lakshamana, is enacted over the 9 days before it, but in some cities such as Varanasi the entire story is freely acted out by performance-artists before the public every evening for a month.[17]

The performance arts tradition during the Dussehra festival was inscribed by UNESCO as one of the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" in 2008.[25] The festivities, states UNESCO, include songs, narration, recital and dialogue based on the Hindu text Ramacharitmanas by Tulsidas. It is celebrated across northern India for dussehra, but particularly in historically important Hindu cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Vrindavan, Almora and Madhubani – cities in Uttar Pradesh, Utarakhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.[25] The festival and dramatic enactment of the virtues versus vices filled story is organized by communities in hundreds of small villages and towns, attracting a mix of audiences from different social, gender and economic backgrounds. In many parts of India, the audience and villagers join in and participate spontaneously, some helping the artists, others helping with stage setup, make-up, effigies and lights.[25] These arts come to a close on the night of Dussehra, when the victory of Rama is celebrated by burning the effigies of evil, Ravana and his colleagues.[14]

Himachal Pradesh[edit]

Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh and is regionally notable for its large fair and parade witnessed by estimated half a million people. The festival is a symbol of victory of good over evil by Raghu Nath, and is celebrated like elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent with a procession.[26] The special feature of the Kullu Dasara procession is the arrival of floats containing deities from different parts of the nearby regions and their journey to Kullu.[27]

Southern India[edit]

Mysore Dasara procession and celebrations in Karnataka are a major tourist attraction.

Vijayadasami is celebrated in a variety of ways in South India.[28][better source needed] Celebrations range from worshipping Durga, lighting up temples and major forts such as at Mysore, to displaying colorful figurines, known as a golu.

The festival played a historical role in the 14th-century Vijayanagara Empire, where it was called Mahanavami. The Italian traveller Niccolò de' Conti described the festival's intensity and importance as a grandeur religious and martial event with royal support. The event revered Durga as the warrior goddess (some texts refer to her as Chamundeshwari). The celebrations hosted athletic competitions, singing and dancing, fireworks, a pageantry military parade and charitable giving to the public.[29][30]

The city of Mysore has traditionally been a major center of Dasara-Vijayadashami celebrations.[29]

Another significant and notable tradition of several South Indian regions has been the dedication of this festival to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music and arts. She is worshipped, along with instruments of one's trade during this festival. In South India, people maintain, clean and worship their instruments, tools of work and implements of their livelihood during this festival, remembering Goddess Saraswati and Durga.[14]

Kids aged 3-4, who are new to school, are admitted to school on Viajayadasami Day[31].

In Maharashtra, the deities installed on the first day of Navratri are immersed in water. Observers visit each other and exchange sweets.[32]

Colorful floor patterns to mark Vijayadashami.

The festival has been historically important in Maharashtra. Shivaji, who challenged the Mughal Empire in the 17th-century and created a Hindu kingdom in western and central India, would deploy his soldiers to assist farmers in cropping lands and providing adequate irrigation to guarantee food supplies. Post monsoons, on Vijayadashami, these soldiers would leave their villages and reassemble to serve in the military, re-arm and obtain their deployment orders, then proceed to the frontiers for active duty.[33][34]

Western India[edit]

In Gujarat, both goddess Durga and god Rama are revered for their victory over evil. Fasting and prayers at temples are common. A regional dance called Dandiya Raas, that deploys colorfully decorated sticks, and Garba that is dancing in traditional dress is a part of the festivities through the night.[35]

In Mewar region of Rajasthan and gujarat both Durga and Rama have been celebrated on Vijayadashami, and it has been a major festival for Rajput warriors.[29]

The Gondi people instead celebrate Ravana by carrying an image of him riding an elephant and singing praises to him, as they consider Ravana as their ancestor and one of their gods.[36][37]

Durga image is immersed into river on Vijayadashami in eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent.

Eastern India[edit]

Vijaya Dasami is observed as Bijoya Dashomi, immediately after the day of Dashomi or the tenth day of Nabaratri, marked by a great procession where the clay statues are ceremoniously walked to a river or ocean coast for a solemn goodbye to Durga. Many mark their faces with vermilion (sindoor) or wear some red clothing. It is an emotional day for some devotees, even for many atheist Bengalis as the congregation sings emotional goodbye songs.[38][39] When the procession reaches the water, Durga is immersed, the clay dissolves, and she is believed to return to Mount Kailasha with Shiva and to the cosmos in general. People distribute sweets and gifts, visit their friends and family members.[40] Some communities such as those near Varanasi mark the eleventh day, called ekadashi, by visiting a Durga temple.[41]


Youngsters greet elders and seek blessings on Dashain (Dashami) among the Hindu community in Nepal and Himalayan regions.

In Nepal, Vijayadashami follows the festival of Dashain. Youngsters visit the elders in their family, distant ones come to their native homes, and students visit their school teachers. The elders and teachers welcome the youngsters, mark their foreheads with Tilak and bless them. The family reveres the Hindu goddess of wealth Lakshmi, hoping for virtuous success and prosperity in the year ahead.[42][43]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Christopher John Fuller (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-0-69112-04-85.
  2. ^ 2017 Holidays National Informatics Centre (NIC), MeitY, Government of India
  3. ^ "Vijayadashami puja muhurta: दशहरा पूजन का मुहूर्त और विजयादशमी पूजा के बारे में जानें सबकुछ". Times of India (in Hindi). 18 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Britannica 2015.
  5. ^ a b James G. Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 212-213, 468-469.
  6. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Britannica Dussehra 2015.
  7. ^ "Happy Dashain 2074". Lumbini Media. September 18, 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-18.
  8. ^ a b James G. Lochtefeld 2002, p. 751.
  9. ^ James G. Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 468-469.
  10. ^ Susan B. Gall; Irene Natividad (1995). The Asian-American Almanac. Gale Research. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8103-9193-2.
  11. ^ Rina Singh (2016). Diwali. Orca. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1-4598-1008-2.
  12. ^ "Sanskrit spoken dictionary".
  13. ^ "Sanskrit spoken dictionary".
  14. ^ a b c Constance Jones & James D. Ryan 2006, pp. 308-309.
  15. ^ "Sanskrit spoken dictionary".
  16. ^ "Sanskrit spoken dictionary".
  17. ^ a b James G. Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 212-213.
  18. ^ Monier Williams (1872). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and philologically arranged. Clarendon Press. pp. 424–425.
  19. ^ Monier Monier-Williams (2001). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Asian Educational Services. pp. 35, 240, 675–676. ISBN 978-81-206-1509-0.
  20. ^ Krishna, Nanditha; M, Amirthalingam (2014). Sacred Plants of India (first ed.). Penguin books india 2014. pp. 171–175. ISBN 9780143066262.
  21. ^ {{Cite web|url=, Telangana 507169
  22. ^ UNTOLD HISTORY TELUGU (25 May 2018). "గాండీవం పట్టిన అర్జునుడు - TELUGU MAHABHARATAM EPISODE 78 - UNTOLD HISTORY TELUGU - UHT". Retrieved 18 October 2018 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 4: Virata Parva: Go-harana Parva: Section LXI". Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  24. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 4: Virata Parva: Go-harana Parva: Section LIV". Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  25. ^ a b c Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana, UNESCO
  26. ^ Dutta, Sanjay (11 October 2008). "International Dussehra festival kicks-off at Kullu". The Indian Express. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  27. ^ James G. Lochtefeld 2002, p. 213.
  28. ^ "Dussera or Vijayadahami – Why Do We Celebrate It?". 14 October 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  29. ^ a b c Christopher John Fuller (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press. pp. 117–119. ISBN 978-0-69112-04-85.
  30. ^ S Sivapriyananda (1995). Mysore Royal Dasara. Abhinav Publications. pp. 73–75.
  31. ^ "Vijayadasami admissions on in schools despite instructions against mid-year intake". Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  32. ^ Shirgaonkar, Varsha. ""Madhyayugin Mahanavami aani Dasara"." Chaturang, Loksatta (1996).
  33. ^ Jaswant Lal Mehta (2005). Advanced Study in the History of Modern India 1707-1813. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. pp. 505–509. ISBN 978-1-932705-54-6.
  34. ^ Gopa Sabharwal (2006). Ethnicity and Class: Social Divisions in an Indian City. Oxford University Press. pp. 123–125. ISBN 978-0-19-567830-7.
  35. ^ Aruna Thaker; Arlene Barton (2012). Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-4051-7358-2.
  36. ^ Asuras? No, Just Indians], Outlook India
  37. ^ Celebrating Ravan], The Hindu
  38. ^ Hillary Rodrigues 2003, pp. 244-245.
  39. ^ June McDaniel 2004, pp. 168-169.
  40. ^ Hillary Rodrigues 2003, pp. 66-67, 236-241, 246-247.
  41. ^ Hillary Rodrigues 2003, pp. 67-68.
  42. ^ Dhurba Krishna Deep (1993). Popular Deities, Emblems & Images of Nepal. Nirala. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-81-85693-25-5.
  43. ^ Netra Bahadur Thapa; D. P. Thapa (1969). Geography of Nepal: Physical, Economic, Cultural & Regional. Orient Longmans. pp. 92–93.


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