Navaratri is a festival dedicated to the worship of Durga. The word Navaratri means 'nine nights' in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Devi are worshipped. The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or "Dussehra". Navaratri is an important major festival and is celebrated all over India and Nepal. Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated twenty days after Dasera.
Vijayadashami also known as Dussehra or Ayuydhapuja , is an important Hindu festival celebrated in a variety of ways in Nepal, Sri Lanka and India, "Dussehra" is derived from Sanskrit; Dasha-hara, means Dashanan ravan ("Ravana's defeat").
The day also marks the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura. The goddess fought with the evil for ten days and nine nights. "Vijayadashami" is derived from the Sanskrit vijaya-dashami (victory on the dashami).
Vijayadashami is celebrated on the tenth day of brighter fortnight in the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu calendar, corresponding to September or October of the Gregorian calendar. The first nine days are celebrated as Navratri ("nine nights"), culminating on the tenth day as Dussehra.
In Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and western Bihar, there is tradition to plant barley in earthen pots on the first day of Navratri. On the day of Dasara, the nine-day-old sprouts (called noratras or nortas) are used for luck; men place them in their caps or behind their ears.
Kullu Dussehra, celebrated in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh, that begins on the tenth day of the rising moon and continues for seven days.
Vijayadashami is an auspicious day for beginning formal education. Students keep their books and workers their tools for puja on the ninth day of Navratri, known as Ayudha Puja. These are taken back and used after puja on Vijayadasami. In many parts of South India, non-Hindus too follow this tradition, from 2004, many churches in Kerala began school on this day.
Vijayadashami is important to the Telugu household. For life events, such as the beginning of a new business or the purchase of a new home or car, rituals are conducted to bless vehicles and other new items.
Mysore Dasara is the Nadahabba (state-festival) of the state of Karnataka in India. It is also called Navaratri and is a 10-day festival with the last day being Vijayadashami, the most auspicious day of Dasara.
Shivamogga Dasara is a slew of cultural programs, including a film festival, a theatre fest, a food mela, performances by music troupes, ‘Mahila Dasara’, ‘Yuva Dasara’, ‘Makkala Dasara’ and ‘Yoga Dasara’ are organized in the 10-day cultural extravaganza. A colourful procession will be taken out in the main streets of the city on the day of Vijayadashami. Jamboo Savari, the main attraction of the Dasara festivities, is kick started by offering puja to the Nandidhwaj on the premises of Shivappa Nayaka Palace. The portrait of goddess Chamundeshwari was carried in a beautifully decorated wooden mantap mounted on the tusker. The Karadimajalu, Keelukunita, Dollukunita, Veeragase, Tattiraya troupes of folk artistes perform along the procession. The police band, Scouts and Guides and National Cadet Corps also participate in the procession.
In Kerala, on the day of Vijayadasham, Vidyarambham is celebrated in which children begin their education. The child writes for the first time with their index finger on rice spread in a plate, guided by a family elder or by a teacher.
In Maharashtra, the bidi leaf (apta) tree is worshiped, and its leaves (signifying gold) are exchanged as wishes for a bright and prosperous future. The tradition of apta leaves is symbolic of Raghuraja, an ancestor of Rama and Kubera. Communities of artisans worship their tools, resting them on this day. Saffron-coloured marigolds are popular during the festival and are used for worship and decoration.
Vijayadashami is celebrated in two ways in the state of Odhisha. In Shakti Peethas such as Tara Tarini (the shrine of Adi Shakti), Bimala (Jagannath Temple) and other temples dedicated to goddesses, it is observed for 10 to 16 days and known as Shodasa Upachara.
In West Bengal, representations of Durga are worshipped for five days and immersed in a river or pond on Vijayadashami (the fifth day). This is known as Durga Bisarjan or Bhashaan. In Jharkhand, Bengal, Assam and Odisha, Kali is worshipped as a symbol of shakti.
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