In 2008, Vijaya Dashami (Dasshera) falls on October 09th, Thursday
Vijayadashami (Hindi and Marathi: विजयादशमी, Kannada:ವಿಜಯದಶಮಿ), also known as Dussehra (Hindi: दशहरा, Kannada: ದಸರ, Marathi: दसरा) or Mohani Nakha (Nepal Bhasa:मोहनी नख:) is a festival celebrated across 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.
Interestingly, 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 by 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".
The festival is celebrated with much fervour and splendour in Southern India.
In Northern India, the festival commemorates the victory of Rama, prince of Ayodhya and avatara of Vishnu, over Ravana, the lord 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 of India, Sikhs and Hindus celebrate Vijayadashmami together. This is because, the two religions respects eachothers gods, and traditions, and because the 2 religions are so much alike and also because they pray at eachothers temples.
Mukkoti Ekadasi • Bakrid • Bhogi • Pongal • Makara Sankraanti • Kanuma • Ratha Saptami • Bheesma Ekadasi • Moharram (Peerla Pandaga) • Maha Shivaratri • Holi • Ugaadi • Sri Raama Navami • Mahavir Jayanthi • Miladinabic • Good Friday • Easter Sunday • Hanumaan Jayanthi • Bonalu • Varalakshmi Vratam • Janmaastami (Krishnaastami) • Vinaayaka Chavithi • Undraalla Thaddhe • Ramzaan • Bathukamma Panduga • Aayudha Pooja • Vijaya Dasami • Dasara • Bonalu • Batukamma • Atla Tadde • Deepavali • Naagula Chavithi • Christmas
Anant Chaturdashi • Baisakhi • Durga Puja • Eid-ul-Fitr • Gita Jayanti • Gudi Padwa • Guru Govind Singh's Birthday • Guru Nanak's Birthday • Satya Sai Baba Janmadinam • Kumbh Mela • Mahavir Jayanti • Muharram • Onam • Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan) • Vasant Panchami