Dussehra / Dasara
Vijaya Dashami also known as Dasara, Dashahara, Navaratri, Durgotdsav… is one of the very important & fascinating festivals of India, which is celebrated in the lunar month of Ashwin (usually in September or October) from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada (the next of the New moon day of Bhadrapada) to the Dashami or the tenth day of Ashwin.
This festival is celebrated not only in India but in almost all eastern countries like Java, Sumatra, Japan etc... Dasara is Nepal’s national festival.
Word Dasara is derived from Sanskrit words “Dasha” & “hara” meaning removing the ten. This is the most auspicious festival in the Dakshinaayana or in the Southern hemisphere motion of the Sun. In Sanskrit, 'Vijaya' means Victory and 'Dashami' means 10th day. 'Thus Vijaya Dashami' means victory on the 10th day.
Dasara is also known as Navaratri, as in the first nine days the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped and invoked in different manifestations of her Shakti. The 10th day is in honor of Durga Devi. The basic purpose behind this festival is to worship feminine principle of the Universe in the form of the divine mother to remind the teachings of the Taitareeya Upanishad, "Matru Devo Bhava." Essence of the navaratri celebration at social level is to remind & respect all the women, who are the guardians of the family, culture, and national integrity, to take lead in times of crisis to guide the humanity towards the path of social justice, righteousness, equality, love, and divinity.
Durga is worshipped as the main deity of Navaratri by all the segments of society including tribal communities. Dasara coincide with the period of rest & leisure of the farmers after their strenuous hard work in their farms & fields, hence they invoke blessings of Durga in order to have a rich harvest in the next coming season.
In India harvest season begins at this time and as mother earth is the source of all food the Mother Goddess is invoked to start afresh the new harvest season and to reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil by doing religious performances and rituals which invoke cosmic forces for the rejuvenation of the soil.
On the day of Dasara, statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in the river waters. These statues are made with the clay & the pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are powerful disinfectants and are mixed in the river waters. This makes water useful for the farmers & yields better crops.
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Hindawi (Hindu) Swarajya used to always worship Lord Shiva & Goddess Durga in the form of goddess Bhawani before any military expedition. Goddess Bhavani had blessed Shivaji Maharaj with her own sword called “Bhavani Talwar”.
Buses, trucks and huge machines in factories are all decorated and worshipped as Dasara is also treated as Vishwakarma Divas - the National Labor Day of India.
Veda Vyasa is considered as the foremost Guru and Vijayadasami is also celebrated as Vyasa Puja. Dasara is the festival of Victory of Good over Bad, God over Devil.
1st Muhurta is Gudhi Padva (Chaitra shukla pratipada),
2nd Muhurta is Akshaya Trutiya (Vaishakh shukla trutiya)
3rd Muhurta is Dasara/Vijaya Dashami (Ashwin shukla dashami)
4th Muhurta Padva in Diwali (Kartik shukla pratipada) is considered as half Muhurta.
As per Hindu Religion, Dasara is considered as one of the 3 ½ auspicious days (Shubha Muhurta). It is proven over years and years that any new venture started on this day is bound to be successful. Hence in most parts of India Dasara is selected for starting a new businesses, construction activities (house, building, hospital), taking possession of new house, buying new vehicle, buying gold, booking the first order for the business etc…
Many parents start the learning activity for their child on Dasara.
On Dasara farmers start their new crop season & the work in the field, manufacturers worship their machines, traders worship their books of account, intellectuals worship their Pen, Calculators, Computers and children worship their school books, notebooks, drawing material etc...
Deeper meaning & significance of Navaratri
As per Indian Vedic Astrology nine planets are (1) Ravi (Sun), (2) Chandra (Moon), (3) Mangal/Bhaum (Mars), (4) Budha (Mercury), (5) Guru/Bruhaspati (Jupiter), (6) Shukra (Venus), (7) Shani (Saturn), (8) Rahu (North Node) & (9) Ketu (South Node).
Human body has nine openings (1) 2 for seeing - Chakshu (Eyes), (2) 2 for hearing - Karna (Ears), (3) 2 for breathing - Nasika (Nostrils), (4) 1 for speech & eating – Mouth, (5) 1 for Malotsarjan - Anus & (6) 1 for Mutrotsarjan – urinary opening.
If the planets favor & all the openings of the human body are kept under proper control, the human life is bound to be a great success.
Navaratri means "nine nights", which we must use to seek blessings from the nine planets and control our openings. In the worship of the goddesses during Navaratri, one of the planets should be worshipped & one of the openings should be cleaned each day, not externally but with heart, mind and soul focused. Bodily actions are ephemeral. The body derives its value from the spirit within. Hence it should be regarded as a sacred temple.
Navaratri festival is observed ten days, out of which nine for cleansing one's self of all impurities, in order to experience the divinity within & the last day is dedicated to "worship of weapons (Aayudha Pooja). The weapons to be worshipped are the divine powers & virtues within. When the divine is worshipped in this way, one is bound to progress spiritually.