Everything You Need to Know About Dusshera
Dussehra, Dasara or Dashain also known as Vijayadashami, is a major Hindu festival which is observed on the tenth day of Ashvin in the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in the months of September and October. In the northern, north-eastern, and southern parts of India, this festival is known as Vijayadashami and celebrates Goddess Durga’s victory over Mahishasura. While in western and central parts of India, it is called as Dussehra and celebrated to mark the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana. This festival also starts preparations for another festival, called Diwali which is usually celebrated twenty days after Dussehra. In Nepal, this festival is celebrated as ‘Dashain’, which is a major festival for the Hindus and celebrated in honour of Goddess Durga. It is traditionally celebrated for two weeks with elaborate pujas and is known as the longest Hindu festival of Nepal.
Why do we celebrate Dussehra?
According to scriptures, in the northern and western parts of India, Dussehra is celebrated because in honour of Lord Rama. The holiday marks the triumph of Lord Rama over the 10-headed demon ‘Ravana’, who kidnapped Sita. The festival commemorates the victory of good over evil. Thus, this festival is celebrated by burning huge effigies of Ravana, along with conducting Rama Lila which is a theatrical play on Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, with great joy and splendour. It was also on the same day that Arjuna destroyed and killed everyone from the Kuru clan in the battle of Kurukshetra.
Now, in the southern and north-eastern parts of India, this festival is celebrated to honour the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura. In the state of Gujarat, people observe fast, play Dandiya and Garba, and worship the nine forms of Goddess Durga for all nine days. In West Bengal, Durga Puja is held across the state on ‘Bijoy Dashami’ and idols of Goddess Durga are immersed in water in a ritual to bid farewell to the Goddess.
What is Shastra Puja and why do we do it on the day of Dussehra?
‘Shastra Puja’ also known as ‘Astra Puja’ or ‘Ayudha Puja’ is a ritual in which all the instruments and tools which we use in our daily life are worshipped, as it is believed that all these instruments add certain significance to our lives and yield us benefits, if they are approached with respect and gratitude. According to Mahabharat, Lord Rama once performed the Shastra Puja before going to fight a battle against the 10-headed demon ‘Ravan’. Lord Rama won the battle, and since then this Puja is being performed across India in offices, homes, industries, and factories. Soldiers also worship their weapons and equipment used for battles, on this day. The Goddesses worshipped during the Shastra Puja are Saraswati (The Goddess of wisdom), Lakshmi (The Goddess of wealth) and Parvati (The Divine Mother).
What Puja Samagri do I need to perform the Shastra Puja at home?
- Idols or pictures of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati
- Vastram (cloth)
- Akshat (rice grains)
- Holy water
- Incense sticks
- Cotton wicks
- Ghee jot
How do I perform the Shastra Puja at home?
In the Puja area, place the idols of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati on a Peeta and decorate these idols with flowers. Draw a rangoli in front of these idols and place books and tools which are needed to be worshipped during the puja. Sprinkle some holy water on the tools and books. Cover the idols with a vastram (cloth) and place kumkum, haldi, akshat (rice grains) and sandalwood in puja bowls. Apply sandalwood and Kumkum to the tools and books which are placed in the area and light some incense sticks. Start the puja by praying to Lord Ganesha. Now light a jot with ghee and cotton wicks, and then perform the Saraswati Aarti by chanting mantras. Pray to the Goddesses and seek your blessings. After that, place the naivedhyam (prasad) or any kind of sweets in front of the idols, and later distribute them among everyone.