Dasshera /Vijay Dashami
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Dasara, also called "Navaratri", is among the most important festivals celebrated in India. Unlike Dussera, this is celebrated for 10 days in Southern parts.
The Festival of Dasara is celebrated on the occasion of Navaratri. Celebrations are unique ranging from worshipping goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) to exhibiting colorful toys on the day of 'bombe habba' in Kannada.
See also: Navratri
This day is to worship weapons. People in the modern days worship automobiles, their machines on this day.
'Weapons' have been replaced with 'tools of the trade'. So people worship carpentry tools, computers, vehicles, cooking utensils etc etc.
 Vijaya Dashami
The last day of all the celebrations is Vijaya Dashami. In Mysore, the tradition of holding a grand procession through the streets of this historic city, with the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari riding in a golden Ambaari (Elephant-seat) heaved on Elephant-back has been in effect since time immemorial. Indeed, for many centuries, presiding over the 10-day festivities was the hallmark of sovereignty over the Kingdom of Mysore. The Wodeyar Maharajas of Mysore celebrated the annual event on a grand scale; "Mysore Dasara" has attained renown across the country and abroad. People from all over the world go to Mysore to witness this cultural event. Many cultural events are held at the main Palace in Mysore. Post Independence, the Government of Karnataka has taken over the tradition and is continuing the celebration every year in the same tradition as the Old Mysore Kingdom.The whole palace is illuminated with lights. The entire city has a festive look.
 How to celebrate dasara
In Karnataka, Ayudh Puja, the ninth day of Dasara, is celebrated with the worship of implements used in daily life such as computers, books, vehicles, kitchen tools etc.
It is an effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses in daily life. Basically it includes all tools that help one earn one's livelihood. So knowledge workers go for books, pen or computers, plough and other agricultural tools by the farmer, machinery by industrialists and cars/buses/trucks by transporters are decorated with flowers and worshiped on this day invoking God's blessing for success in coming years. It is believed that any new venture such as starting of business or purchasing of new household items on this day is bound to succeed.
 A festive meals for puja time
It is day when the best meals is cooked for a festival.
This day marks the triumph of Lord Rama over Demon king Ravana. On this day, Rama killed Ravana.
Rama was asked to go on exile because his stepmother, Queen Kaikeyee was tricked into asking King Dasaratha to exile him for 14 years. Rama's wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana went with him willingly.
News of Rama staying at an ashram while on exile spread rapidly. A demon, Shoorpanakha found her way there and demanded that Rama or Lakshmana marry her. When both brothers rejected her, she threatened to kill Sita, so that Rama would then be single again. Lakshmana then cut off her ears and nose.
Shoorpanakha's brother was the demon King Ravana. Ravana was incensed to hear what happened to his sister, and kidnapped Sita to avenge the insult.
The Ramayana chronicles Rama's travels and deeds as he searched for his wife, and defeated evil.
On this day, people spend the day decorating the entrances of houses & shops with flower studded strings called 'Torans' (Floral Gateways).
At night, effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghanad are stuffed with firecrackers and set alight. Children especially enjoy seeing this because of the beautiful fireworks on the ground. The festival, which is thought of as the "Victory of Good over Evil" and "Return of Rama from Exile" is celebrated in grand style. Because the day is auspicious, people inaugurate new vehicles, machines, books, weapons and tools by ceremonially asking god to bless the new items.
 Variations across South Asia
Dussehra is celebrated in various ways in different parts of South Asia. In Bengal, the festival is celebrated as Kali Puja or Durga Puja, while in Tamil Nadu, the festival incorporates worship of the goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Shakti.
Some people feel that Dussehra and Dasara are not simply different transliterations of the same word, but two different festivals.
Dasara is the festival marking end of Navratri and the immersion of Durga idols which are worshipped for nine days prior to Dussehra. Dussehra is also the day when many families start formal education of their kids. The practise has been so old, that in some parts of Kerala, even after conversions to Christianity, some members of the community continued this tradition. In 2004, many churches in Kerala formally adopted the same tradition of introducing young children to education on Dussehra day.
The Dasara celebrations in Mysore are popular with tourists, and are conducted with great pomp. Dasara is celebrated in Nepal by the name of Dashain.
Vijayadashami (Hindi and Marathi: विजयादशमी, Kannada:ವಿಜಯದಶಮಿ), also known as Dussehra (Hindi: दशहरा, Kannada: ದಸರ, Marathi: दसरा), "Dashain" in Nepali, or Mohani Nakha in(Nepal Bhasa:मोहनी नख:), is a festival celebrated across Nepal and India. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Ashwayuja or Ashwina, and is the grand culmination of the 10-day annual festival of Dasara or Navaratri. The legend underlying the celebration, as also its mode of conduct, vary vastly by region; however, all festivities celebrate the victory of the forces of Good over Evil. It is also considered to be an auspicious day to begin new things in life. It is the largest festival of Nepal and celebrated by Hindu and non-Hindu as well.
In Southern India, Eastern India and Western India, the festival of Navaratri which culminates with Vijayadashami commemorates the legend in which the Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or Mahishasura Mardini, vanquishes the demon Mahishasura, an event that is said to have taken place in the vicinity of the present day city of Mysore in Karnataka. In Northern India, the same 10-day festival commemorates the victory of Rama, prince of Ayodhya in present-day Uttar Pradesh, over Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, who according to the Ramayana had abducted Sita Devi, the consort of the former, and held her captive in his realm.
 Legend of the Shami Tree
There is another and little-known legend associated with this festival, one associated with the Mahabharata. For reasons impossible to delineate here, the Pandavas underwent a period of exile, being 12 years of dwelling in the forest followed by a year of exile incognito. Disguise being indispensable during the latter period, the Pandavas found it necessary to lay aside, for the length of that year, the many divine and distinctive weapons that they possessed#. These they secreted in a 'Shami' tree in the vicinity* of their chosen place of incognito residence. At the end of a year, they returned to the spot, found their weaponry intact, and worshipped in thanksgiving both the Shami tree and the Goddess Durga, presiding deity of strength and victory. Meanwhile, the Kauravas had invaded that area, suspecting the residence of the Pandavas there. Upon finishing their devotions, the Pandavas made straight to battle, and won the contest comprehensively. The day that all these events occurred on has since been known as "Vijayadashami", where "Vijaya" is the Sanskrit word for "Victory".
The fact of the comprehensive success of the Pandavas in their endeavour has been extrapolated to the everyday ventures of the common man today. Even to this day, people exchange Shami leaves and wish each other victory in their own ventures and efforts. The following shloka is used, sometimes, to signify this:
शमी शमयते पापम् शमी शत्रुविनाशिनी ।
अर्जुनस्य धनुर्धारी रामस्य प्रियदर्शिनी ॥
करिष्यमाणयात्राया यथाकालम् सुखम् मया ।
तत्रनिर्विघ्नकर्त्रीत्वं भव श्रीरामपूजिता ॥
shamI shamayate paapam shamI shaTruvinaashinI |
arjunasya dhanurdhaari raamsya priyadasrshinI ||
karishyamaaNayaatraayaa yayaakaalam sukham mayaa |
tatranirviGnakrtrItvam bhava shrIraamapUjitaa ||
# – Arjuna's Gandeeva bow was one among them.
* – It is said that the Shami tree chosen by the Pandavas stood inside a cremation ground. It was chosen to render detection that much less likely. The Pandavas wrapped their weapons in a white cloth and concealed this on that shami tree, making the weapons look like a dead body.
A typical scene of the public celebrations of the festival
In Northern India, the festival commemorates the victory of Rama, prince of Ayodhya and avatara of Vishnu, over Ravana, the ruler of Lanka who had abducted Rama's wife, Sita Devi. The festival is celebrated with much gusto. Crackers are burnt, and huge melas or fetes are organised. The Ramlila - an abriged dramatization of the Ramayana - is enacted with much public fervour all over northern India during the period of the festivities. The burning of the effigies of Ravana on Vijayadashami, signifying the victory of good over evil, brings the festivities to a colourful close. In some regions, Sikhs and Hindus celebrate Vijayadashami together.
The legend associated with the Shami tree finds commemoration during the renowned Navaratri celebrations at Mysore, which otherwise strongly emphasizes the Durga legend described above, as may be expected in the city built at the very site of the events of the Durga legend. On Vijaydashami day, at the culmination of a colourful 10-day celebration, the goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped and then borne in a Golden Ambari or elephant-mounted throne, in a grand procession, through the city of Mysore, from the historical Mysore Palace to the Banni Mantapa. Banni is the Kannada word for the Sanskrit Shami, and Mantapa means "Pavilion".
 Duserah Carnival in South Tamilnadu
Dhasera festival, which celebrates the killing of a treacherous demon by the Goddess Kali, a native tribal deity is one of the most largest celberated function in South Taminadu.
Every year in the month of October at midnight of festival day, villagers assemble at Kulasekaranpattinam near Thiruchendur to offer their prayers.
Dancing like honeybees
After fasting for a good number of days and prayers, people throng the place dancing like honeybees and dressed like goddess `Kali", holding fire pots. On the concluding night many come and seek the blessings from people who dressed up as goddess Kali.
Kulasekarapattinam a coastal village in Thoothukkudi distric with a famous for its 300-year old Muthuraman Koil located on the seashore. During Dusserah more than one million people asssemble in the area and fine music resonates with the rhythmic beat of drums. Folk artistes from all over the State converge here to participate in the 10-day festival. The beach looks like a fair ground and the performances reminds one of the natyotsavs in large temple.Tuticorin, Nellai and Kumari district bustle with prepataion for Folk Carnival activities this year. There is no Royal patronage and the entire festivity veers round the presiding deity Sri Mutharamman of Kulasekarapattinam. Following an age-old tradition, devotees vow to go from house to house to beg for alms, disguised in various celestial forms such asKali, Siva, Vishnu and Narada, Animal Forms Such as Tiger, Monkey, Bear, Lion, . Some devotees transform themselves into mundane figuressuch as policemen, King, Queen, Justice,"narikurava rs" and beggars during the festival, and roam with begging bowls, to propitiate the Goddess. This year more than 150 vareities will be taken up by devotees. Virtually devotees from all villages have their own funds earmarked for the festival. It is the festival of communal harmony surpassing the barriers of religion, caste and social status
In several villages of South Tamilnadu, Tiger dances, known as Pulikali is a unique form of folk dance that fascinates the young and the old alike during the large assembly of carnivel. Since tiger is considered as the favored carrier of Folk Goddess (the Goddess in whose honor Dussera is celebrated), this dance is performed during the Dussera celebration . Performers,usually experienced youth or elderly man who paint themselves like tigers in bright yellow, red and black, and dance to the beats of instruments. Tiger dancers–men painted over with stripes and wearing tiger masks–lead the procession.
The tiger dancers, paint the big cat in its various moods on their bodies. Feline faces glare from the potbellies of the dances with each jiggle giving them expression. The almost life-like faces are the center of attraction at the "Pulikali" as the tiger dance is locally known. The dance which also features an array of tiger masks, is performed with great pomp and show every year. The performance is also a competition. Several performing teams , compete to have the most exciting performance. As the drumbeats reach a crescendo, so do the movements of the dancers. The feline movements of the dancers keep the audience spellbound. Traditional herbal colors that the dancers used to adorn their bodies. Big crowds gather to watch the performance.
The festival is celebrated with much fervour and splendour in Southern India.
See also: dasara and Mysore Dasara