What is Dussehra?
The word “Dussehra” is derived from the Sanskrit words “dasha” and “hara” meaning ten and defeat respectively. It refers to the defeat of the ten-headed demon king Ravan at the hands of Lord Ram. Here, Ravan signifies evil while Ram is the symbol of good and the righteous. Thus, Dussehra is actually the celebration of the victory of good over evil. According to the epic Ramayana, Ram was exiled to the forest for about 14 years at the behest of her step-mother, Kaikeyi who wanted her son, Bharat to ascend the throne after the then king of Ayodhya, Dasharath. Ram was accompanied by his wife, Sita and brother Lakshman in this exile as they refused to leave him to face the perils of the jungle all alone. While in exile, Shoorpanakha, Ravan’s sister, laid eyes upon Ram and wanted to marry him. Ram naturally rejected the proposal as he was already married to Sita. This made Shoorpanakha angry and jealous and she proceeded to attack Sita out of vengeance. Lakshman intervened and in the scuffle cut off Shoorpanakha’s nose and ears. Humiliated, she complained to her brother Ravan who got infuriated at Ram for such a treatment to his sister and vowed to take revenge. He abducted Sita to teach him a lesson and what followed was the epic battle between Ram and Ravan. The battle resulted in Lord Ram’s victory which is celebrated by devotees on Dussehra. They commemorate the virtues of Ram, who is considered to be one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver God in the Holy Trinity of Hindus. The festival gives renewed strength to the devotees to follow the path and emulate the righteous deeds of Lord Ram.
5 Prominent Dussehra Traditions
India is a land of many cultures and each of them is as diverse from each other as they can be. There is a difference in language, customs, attitudes and traditions between them. Even when the cultures are commemorating or celebrating the same occasion, it is done with different customs and rituals specific to those cultures. This difference makes every festival a dynamic one where the variety of commemoration brings forth a variety of experiences. Take the example of Dussehra. It is a festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. The spirit and meaning of the festival remain the same across the country but celebrations differ across states and communities. These are some of the prominent traditions of Dussehra that have originated from various cultures in this diverse nation.
Burning Effigy of Ravan
Dussehra commemorates the victory of good over evil, specifically the victory of Lord Ram over the demon king Ravana. In large parts of North India, Dussehra is celebrated by enacting the battle symbolically by burning a large effigy of Ravan along with those of Kumbhakarna and Meghnad. This act symbolizes the defeat of Ravan at the hand of Ram, and he and his associates burning into oblivion. Such enactments are conducted in a large open field with spectators surrounding it. It is followed by a show of beautiful fireworks.
Worshipping Goddess Saraswati
Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge and learning in the Hindu Pantheon. She is worshipped on the ninth or tenth day of Navaratri and is one of the prominent rituals of Dussehra. Believers, especially in Maharashtra and in surrounding areas, consider the day to be auspicious and that any new venture has high chances of success if initiated on this day. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped like any other God with prayer offerings and fasting. In South India, this tradition goes by the name of Vidyarambam. As the title suggests, it is the day of the “beginning of education”. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped piously and with great devotion on this day and is considered the best day for children to begin learning something new, like art from or a learning course. Besides the Goddess, instruments and tools of learning like pen, pencil, books are also worshipped.
Ram Lila Performances
Ram Lila performances are highly popular during Dussehra. It is essential plays that depict stories from the Ramayana with special emphasis on the battle between Ram and Ravan and Ram’s eventual victory. This practice is believed to have started during the 1800s in the ancient holy city of Varanasi. Udit Narayan Singh, the then king of the city started the tradition of Ram Lila performances beside Ram Nagar Fort. Nowadays, vast areas are decorated according to the important locations in the epic, like Lanka, Ayodhya and Ashok Vatika. Actors in colourful costumes enact parts of the epic on them with exaggerated expressions and movements. Masks, huge papier-mache figures and impactful music makes the whole affair a larger than life depiction of Ramayan.
Search for the Wagtail
This is a very interesting tradition that is performed during Dussehra in some parts of the country. The tradition includes a search for the wagtail bird which is thought to be a soothsayer of what is to happen. Whether you have good or bad luck in the future can be determined where the bird is sighted. If it is found beside lotus flowers or among horses, snakes, elephants or cows, it is believed to be a sign of good luck and conquest. If it is sighted beside bones, ashes or garbage then it is a forewarning of a bad event. In the case of the latter, believers take medicinal baths and organize a feast for the Brahmins to satisfy the Almighty and ward off the impending evil.
Gifting Banni Leaves
This Dussehra tradition is confined in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and it originates from the legend of Kautsa. Kautsa was a young Brahmin boy who used to distribute gold coins to poor people on this day. The tradition of giving banni leaves developed from this act. Nowadays people of that region gift banni leaves to family and friends on Dussehra concerning Kautsa’s act. The leaves are termed as “sone” or gold and are a metaphor for the gold gifted by Kautsa to poor people.
10 Items You Can Gift Your Friends on Dussehra
It doesn’t matter which culture we belong to. We Indians believe in celebrations that uphold the spirit of togetherness. Thus, how we celebrate a festival always includes sending greetings and gifts to near and dear ones to express our love for them. It is our way of telling them that they are always in our thoughts and prayers and that they are never alone. Dussehra will be no exception and gifts will be bought and sent to our family and friends. It becomes quite a task to choose the right gift about the occasion and sometimes it becomes exhausting. Follow this BP Guide article to avoid all that and choose the best gift this Dussehra for your family and friends.
Gourmet Chocolate Gift Box
Chocolate is a versatile item, meaning that there is no perfect time or date for chocolate. Every day, every hour, every festival, every occasion is perfect for chocolate. It is a complement or cure to every sort of mood. It is the perfect companion to celebrate a success and also is appropriate to elevate a sour mood after a letdown. This Dussehra give your friends and family a collection of delicious chocolates like this gift box. This chocolate box consists of 18 chocolate pieces that are filled with either roasted almond nuts or dry fruits or butterscotch. It comes in an elegant wooden box that is decorated with the theme of Dussehra, thus making it relevant to the occasion. It costs Rs.995 and you can buy it from amazon,in.
Ramayan Matryoshka Dolls
Matryoshka dolls are an interesting décor and are lovely as gifts. Dussehra is the celebration of Lord Ram’s victory over the demon king Ravan. A set of Matryoshka dolls depicting Lord Ram and his family will be a relevant gift on this occasion. This is a set of 5 wooden dolls having hand painted images of Lord Ram, his wife Sita, brother Lakshman, his most ardent devotee Hanuman and an Om symbol. The set costs Rs.719 on Amazon.
Roses With Gulab Jamun
This gift is best for family and friends that live far away from you in another city or state. It consists of 12 fresh red roses on stems and a 1 kg pack of gulab jamun. Roses are universal symbols of greeting and love and gulab jamun is a traditional Indian sweet that is quite popular in the country. Your family and friends will have a lovely and sweet greeting upon receiving this in the mail on Dussehra. The roses and gulab jamun pack costs Rs.899 on gifts.flower.in.
Sugarfree Soan Papdi
There is no doubt that India is a land of festivals with religious festivals occurring every other month and the major portion of religious festival cuisine is traditional sweets. From bhog to prasad, sweets take the centre stage. This pack of sugar-free soan papdi is the ideal gift for Dussehra. It contains 250 grams of soan papdi in delicious coconut and orange flavour. You can get the pack from igp.com with costs Rs.990.
Tika thalis are ubiquitous in Indian Hindu religious ceremonies. It is part of the paraphernalia of prayer services. No Hindu prayer service can be done without this piece of utensil. So this Dussehra gives your friends and family this Tika thali as a gift. The dimension of this thali is 4 inches x 1 inch. The gold plated gives it a stunning shiny look. It is decorated with colourful glass beads that look wonderful against the bright yellow of the gold plating. The thali costs Rs.525 on igp.com.
Every Indian Hindu festival involves beautiful light décor. They can be done with electric lights as well as traditional earthen diyas. Simple earthen diyas are a staple and almost always features in festival décor of every home but not this particular diya. This diya is made of metal that sports exquisite kundan stone work pattern and is perfect for Dussehra gift. It is of the dimension 4 inches x 4 inches and costs Rs.580 on igp.com.
This painting is an appropriate gift for Dussehra. The festival Dussehra commemorates the victory of Lord Ram over the demon king Ravana. Symbolically, it is a festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. This painting by famous painter Jamini Roy depicts the battle between Ram and Raavan and is painted in Kalighat Pat style. It is of dimensions 36 inches x14 inches and is priced at Rs.2,749 on tallengestore.com.
Traditional Sweets Gift Box
Sweets are both a festival delicacy and prasad in India. Hence, a gift of traditional sweets on a religious occasion is like a custom here. This is sweet box containing 4 types of traditional sweets.1kg of this product costs Rs.1,199 and 2kg costs Rs.2,099 on indiagift.in.
Fruit Shaped Sweets
This is a unique sweet pack that contains an assortment of delicious sweets that come in the shape of various fruits. Gifts of sweet packets are common not only on Dussehra but also other Indian Hindu festivals. But this sweet packet is different because of the unique and fun shapes of the sweets. The sweetmeats in the pack are made with kaju and essence of fruits like strawberry, apple, melon and pear. The pack costs Rs.799 on giftalove.com and weighs 500gm.
This is a crystal showpiece of the dimension 50x50x80mm. It has the Om symbol embedded it. According to Hinduism, this symbol is instrumental in discarding negative energy from any given space and usher in positivity. This helps in the success of many ventures and does not let evil to cast its influence. This showpiece can be kept in the house, or adorn your office table or be placed on the car dashboard. This crystal item costs Rs.1,349 on winni.in.
Celebrating the Spirit of Dussehra
Dussehra is a very important festival for many parts of the country. People get together with their families and celebrate it with a lot of vigour. Some go pandal hopping, some go to fairs, wear new clothes and take part in rituals together. Dussehra is a great time to get back in touch with your friends and family. And what better way is there, than getting them a thoughtful gift on this occasion?