Submitted by: Vidianand Baree
Additional Photos taken by Baree posted on flickr.)
Stories Behind the Celebration of VIJAYA DASHAMI
It is generally believed that any venture started on Vijaya Dashami is bound to be successful. On that day, weapons, tools, books, vehicles and appliances are worshipped.
According to ancient scriptures, several important events depicting success or victory occurred at different époques on the tenth day of the Lunar month of Ashwin. Some of them date as far back as millions of years ago!
Victory of Lord Rama over Ravana (Ten Headed Devil)
On this day Ram (seventh incarnation of Vishnu), killed the great demon Ravan who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman, Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his wife Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days. This victory of Rama is since then celebrated as “Vijaya Dashami”.
During the ten days of Dasara, huge idols of Ravana are erected and are set on fire by the enthusiastic youth at sunset. In various households homas (powerful ancient fire rituals) are performed. The purpose of the homas are to kill and sacrifice the ten bad qualities, which are represented by ten heads of Ravana as follows:
Kama Vasana (lust) Krodha (anger)
Moha (delusion) Lobha (greed)
Mada (over pride) Matsara (jealousy)
Manas (mind) Buddhi (intellect)
Chitta (will) Ahankara (ego)
Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasur
In another era, some demons became very powerful and ambitious, continually trying to defeat Gods and capture Heaven. One such demon called Mahishasur, who looked like a buffalo, grew very powerful and created havoc on Earth. At one stage, all Gods including Brahma and Vishnu were powerless against him. Finally, when the world was getting crushed under Mahishasura's tyranny, the Gods came together and contributed their individual energy to form “Shakti,” a single mass of incandescent energy to fight and kill Mahishasur.
A very powerful band of lightening dazzled from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh (Shiva) and a beautiful, magnificent, radiant young virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her (Symbolized in modern ritual, photo, left. Click on photo to see a larger size). This Shakti coalesced in the form of Goddess Durga.
Durga with weapons in her ten hands, riding on Lion, who assisted her in the fight, took on Mahishasur. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of the lunar month of Ashwin, the evil demon Mahishasur was defeated & killed by Durga.
Pandavas Return from Incognito (5000 years ago)
Mahabharata, one of the most important Hindu epics, is an account of the life and deeds of several generations of a ruling dynasty called the Kuru clan. Central to the epic is an account of a great war that took place between to sibling families belonging to each other.
The two sides to the war were the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The dispute between the Kauravas and the Pandavas arose out of a game of dice, which the Kauravas won by deceit, forcing their Pandava cousins to go into exile for thirteen years. The dispute escalated into a full scale war when the Kauravas, driven by jealousy, refused to restore the Pandavas to their throne even after exile.
Out of the 13 years, the Pandavas had to proceed to 12 years of "Vanwas" (i.e. exile to forest) followed by one year of Adnyatwas (i.e. Living Incognito). After the 12 years in forest they hid their weapons on a “Shami” tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the last one year of Living Incognito (symbolic weapons held by devotees in photo, above, click on photo for larger size). After the completion of that year on Vijaya Dashami they took the weapons from the Shami tree, declared their true identity and drove away the Kauravas, who had come to attack King Virat to steal his cattle wealth.
It is said that the Shami tree chosen by the Pandavas stood inside a cremation ground. It was chosen to render detection as less likely as possible. The Pandavas wrapped their weapons in a white cloth and concealed this on that shami tree, making the weapons look like dead bodies.
Since that day the exchange of Shami leaves on Dassera day became symbols of good will and victory. Therefore, the Shami Tree and weapons are also worshipped. People go to Shami tree, recite the following verses and also write it on a piece of paper and attach it to the tree:
Samee samayate paapam
For that purpose, a shami tree was even transported to the beach at Flic en Flac and devotees went around it reciting the above verses and attached pieces of paper on the thorns of the tree (photo, right, click on photo for bigger size).
End Part 2. Click here for part 1.
Baree’s references and recommended readings:
Dvapara Yuga on Wikipedia | What Vedas Say About the Age of the Universe | Kurukshetra War on Wikipedia | Arjuna, The Great Pandava | Vijayadashami on Wikipedia | Dasara – Times of India | Festival of Dasara | Navarathri/Dassera
Nothing like Navarathri: An American’s Passion and Continuation of Navarathri in US Part 1 (of 3)
Nothing Like Navarathri: Preparing for Festivities Part 2 (of 3)
Nothing Like Navarathri: What Is Celebrated During Navarathri Part 3 (of 3)
Saraswathi Puja Tribute 1 Reading Retreat
Vijaya Dashami Festival in Mauritius (Part 1 of 2) Vijaya Dashami in Mauritius (Part 2 of 2)
Other posts about Hindu Goddesses:
Vinzai Devi's Utsav, April 2007 (Part 1 of 3) Vinzai Devi's Utsav, April 2007 (Part 2 of 3) Vinzai Devi Utsav - Hymn To Gayatri Mata (Part 3 of 3)
Our Navarathri Photos
Navarathri 2008 Photos by Krishna Photos by Jennifer
Navarathri 2007 Photos by Krishna
Navarathri 2006 Photos by Jennifer
Navarathri 2003 Photos by Jennifer
Vijaya Dashami 2003 Photos by Jennifer
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