Dussehra is an important Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is also known as Vijayadashami and is celebrated on Dashami tithi in the Shukla Paksha of Ashwin month. Dussehra celebrates two significant events – Mahishasur vadh by Maa Durga and Ravan vadh by Prabhu Sri Ram.
Once a fierce battle ensued between Devas led by Indra and asuras led by Mahishasur. The asuras overpowered the Devas and Mahishasur occupied Swarglok driving out Indra. The Devas sought refuge with and help from Sri Hari Vishnu and Bhagwan Shiva.
When the Devas along with Bhagwan Brahma reached the spot where Bhagwans Vishnu and Shiva were present. They narrated the entire sequence of events and requested their help. “We have come to you for refuge. Please think of a way to get rid of Mahishasur”, the Devas appealed.
“Hearing the Devas’ narration, Bhagwans Vishnu and Shiva were angry at the asuras. Devi emerged from the combined energies of Sri Hari Vishnu, Bhagwan Shiva, Shri Brahma, and other Devas. Mahadev armed Devi with Trishul, Sri Vishnu gave Her a chakra, Indra gave Her a bell and vajra, Yamraj, Varundev, and Prajapati armed Devi with dand, pash and spatik mala respectively, Kaal gave sword and shield, Kshirsamudra presented several ornaments, Himalaya presented a lion for Devi’s vahan, other Devatas gave Her different weapons and ornaments for Her use”, Markandeya Purana says.
Having been thus armed, Devi rode Her ferocious lion to the battlefield. Mahishasur rushed in the direction of the lion’s roar along with his army. Subsequently, a fierce battle ensued between Maa Durga and several generals of Mahishasur at first. The asuras attacked Devi who responded with equal vigour and easily fended off Her attackers. The ganas, who emerged from Maa’s breath, fought against the asuras as did Devi’s vahan simha (lion).
Seeing his army totally destroyed, Mahishasur assumed the form of a buffalo and began harassing Maa Durga’s ganas. An angered Devi tied Mahishasur with Her pash forcing the asur to give up his buffalo form. He then assumed various forms including that of a lion, an elephant, and finally that of a buffalo again. Maa Durga pushed Mahishasur to the ground and ultimately slayed him using Her sword.
Devas were extremely pleased and sang praises of Maa Durga. Dussehra celebrates the victory of Maa Durga and Her ridding the world of Mahishasur’s atrocities. In many regions, Devi Aparajita is celebrated. Aparajita means one who cannot be defeated. This event is said to have occurred in the second Manvantara.
Ravan vadh took place in Tretayug when Sri Hari Vishnu descended on the earth as Prabhu Sri Ram. According to certain accounts, Prabhu Ram prayed to Devi Aparajita before battling Ravan. Devi Aparajita’s worship was restricted to Kshatriyas during the Vedic period.
As the festival is associated with the ten-headed Ravan’s vadh, it also signifies the removal of ten sins. Kama Vasana (lust), Krodha (anger), Moha (attraction), Lobha (greed), Mada (over pride), Matsara (jealousy), Swartha (selfishness), Anyaya (injustice), Amanavata (cruelty), and Ahankara (ego) are the ten sins one should get rid of while celebrating Prabhu Ram’s victory over Dashanan Ravan.
(Featured Image Source: Dainik Jagran)