Dussehra is celebrated with great pomp across the country. The festival marks the victory of good over evil. It is celebrated on account of the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana, the evil king of Lanka.
Dussehra has come from Sanskrit word ‘Dasara’ or elimination of the ten-headed. Ravana is believed to have ten heads. Moreover, Lord Rama killed the evil king on Dashami, the tenth day of the Hindu lunar calendar. This day is also referred to as Vijayadashami. Dashami is also the tenth and final day of Durga Puja. On this day, the deity worshipped over the nine days of Navratri is immersed in water body. The ritual of immersion is known as Visarjan.
Ramleela, the play showing various stages of Lord Ram’s life, is organized by various groups across India. The nine days culminates on Dussehra with the killing of Ravana by Lord Rama. Effigies of Ravana, brother Kumbhkarna, and son Meghnath are burnt on huge grounds to a witness of large crowds. Children and elders, all have loads of fun in the fairs organized for this occasion. Besides, people seek pleasure in exchanging sweets with one another. Gulab jamun, vermicelli kheer, Rajgira Sheera, badam halwa, and banana sheera are some of the dasara special recipes people enjoy on this auspicious day.
In Maharshtra, Apta tree is worshipped and its leaves are exchanged on Dussehra. Apta tree stands for wealth and prosperity. This practice started during the reign of Raghuraja, an ancestor of Kubera and Rama. It is a big day for artisans in the state. They worship their machinery and tools, and don’t touch them on Dussehra. Saffron colored marigolds are considered auspicious especially for this festival. It is used to decorate homes, offices and other workplaces, and is also used to offer to the deities. Dussehra special dishes are cooked to go along with the festive mood.
As Navratri puja concludes on the tenth day, it is the day to identify inner spiritual power which has the potential to kill all evil, including anger, hatred, fear and negative thoughts. Special prayers are offered seeking blessings of the Goddess for strength and wisdom. Weapons and books are also worshipped on this day.