Dussehra or Dassera is a popular festival celebrated by Hindus all over India, albeit with different names. It is also known as Vijayadashmi ('Vijay' meaning 'victory' and 'Dashmi meaning 'tenth day) as it is believed that it was on this day that Lord Rama killed the demon-king, Ravana and won over Lanka, his kingdom. In other words, it signifies the triumph of good over evil. The legendary triumph is reenacted to the day. Huge effigies of Ravana, his giant brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnad are placed in vast open grounds. Fireworks and crackers are placed inside these and actor dressed as Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana enact the final moments of the battle. The character playing Rama then shoots an arrow with a flaming tip at the effigies from a safe distance and the crowd bursts up in cheer as the crackers catch fire. The enthusiasm and the cheers sometimes even drown the deafening blast. Merriment ensues as people indulge themselves in fairs and games, dance and music.
However, Bengalis celebrate this festival as a part of their main
festival Durga Puja. This day marks the end of Durga Punja celebration,
the fiest nine being collectively referred to as 'Navratri'. The
festival is dedicated to Mother Goddess Shakti who incarnated in the
form of Goddess Durga, a combined manifestation of the divine energies
of the Holy Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and all the other
devatas, when they summoned her to kill the mighty demon known as
Mahishasur and free the world from his terror. On this day, the idols of
Goddess Durga are finally immersed into water after the nine days of
festivities. It is said that the people of the earth here adopted Durga
as the daughter and thus, she visits the home of her parents every year
during the last four days of Navratri along with her sons Ganesha and
Kartikeya and daughters Lakshmi and Saraswati. She finally leaves for
her husband's place on the Vijayadashmi day.
Dussehera will fall on 9th October in Year 2008.