Dussehra (Vijayadashami) : The triumph of Righteousness

1. Vijayadashami

One derivation of the word Dussehra is from dash-hara. ‘Dash’ means ten and ‘hara’ means defeated. Nine days before Dussehra, in the nine days of Navaratri, all the ten directions are saturated with the female Deity’s energy (Devi’s Shakti). ‘Shakti’ has control over Creation in all the ten directions (Known as dikbhav), attendants (Known as Gana), etc. This is why, this day is known as Dussehra, Dash-hara, Dasera, Vijayadashami, etc. This is one amongst the three and a half auspicious moments (Known as muhurts) of the year. This falls on the tenth day of the bright fortnight of Ashwin. The immersion of the Navaratri (Female Deity) is done on the ninth or the tenth day. Four rituals – crossing the territory (Known as Simollanghan), worship of the Shami tree (Known as Shamipujan), worship of the Deity Aparajita (Known as Aparajitapujan) and worship of instruments (Known as Shastrapuja) should be performed on this day.

2. Rituals to be performed on Vijayadashami

A. Crossing the territory : In this ritual, the territory of a village is crossed in the North-East direction in the third part of the day, that is, in the afternoon. During this ritual, one should stop at a Shami or Apta tree.

B. Worship of the Shami tree : The Shami tree is worshipped with the recitation of the following prayer.

Shami Shamayate papam shami lokhitkantaka l

Dharinyarjunbananam Ramasya priyavadini ll

Karishmanyatraya yathakal such myal

Tatra nirvighanktri twam bhav Sri Rampujite ll

Meaning : The Shami tree cleanses sins. Its thorns are reddish. It is Shriram’s favourite tree, and in such a tree, Pandavas hid their arms. O’ Shami, Shriram has worshipped you. I now embark upon my journey to victory. May you make it pleasant and free from obstacles.

The Apta tree is worshipped with the following mantra:

Ashmantak Mahavruksha Mahadoshnivaran l

Istana darshanm dehi kuru shtruvinashnam ll

Meaning : O great Apta (also known as Ashmantak) tree, you are the one who overcomes great defects. Unite me with my friends and destroy my foes.

Then rice, a betelnut and a gold coin (copper coin as a variant) are placed near the roots of this tree. After circumambulating the tree, some mud from its base and some of its leaves are brought home. Leaves of the Apta are offered as gold to God and friends. Conventionally, gold should be gifted by the young to the elderly. In Maharashtra, there is a custom of gifting gold to family members and friends on Dussehra.

This has a historical significance too. After a military expedition, the brave Marathas would bring home the plundered booty from the enemy’s territory. These victorious warriors were welcomed by their wives or sisters with Arati (A prayer sung with the waving of a lamp). In return, the warriors would give some gold ornaments from their plunder. The warriors then placed their loot before the Deities in the temple of the house and offered obeisance to God and elders seeking their blessings. Nowadays, this is commemorated by distributing leaves of the Apta tree, symbolising gold.

C. Worship of the Deity Aparajita : During the worship of the Shami tree, eight petals (Known as Ashtadal) are drawn on the ground and an Idol of the Deity Aparajita is placed on it and worshipped by chanting the following mantra.

Haren tu vichitren bhaswatkankamekhala l

Aparajita bhadrarta karotu vijayam mam ll

Meaning : O’ Deity Aparajita, You who adorn a necklace, a glittering golden girdle and who blesses devotees earnestly, bestow victory upon me.

In some places, this worship is also performed before leaving for the ritual of crossing the territory. Placing an Idol of Deity Aparajita on a rangoli of an octapetalled figure signifies Her ability to control the eight directions. Deity Aparajita is a destroyer form of Shri Durgadevi. Deity Aparajita manifests from the womb of the earth with the help of the Prithvitattva (Absolute Earth Principle). This manifestation of Deity Aparajita is for the sake of souls on the earth. This form of the Deity, which establishes itself on the throne of the eight petals, carries a trident and with the help of Deity Shiva, seeks assistance from the Deities of directions and the Deities of the premises and destroys the demoniacal energies.

When Deity Aparajita sitting on the throne of the eight petals emerges from the womb of the earth in response to the prayers of devotees, the Deities of the eight directions also manifest to welcome Her. The tips of the eight petals represent these eight Deities. The destroyer waves generated from the creation of Deity Aparajita through the medium of the eight Deities get emitted as red light waves and destroys the accumulated Raja-Tama energy, thus purifying the atmosphere to help people on the earth to lead an obstacle-free life.

Since the leaves of Shami tree are good conservers of energy, the worship of Deity Aparajita is conducted near a Shami tree. The Aparajita form of Shri Durgadevi is worshipped near the Shami tree because Shami leaves are good conservers of energy and they conserve the energy of Deity Aparajita that manifests in the form of fountains for long periods. People benefit from this conserved energy of Deity Aparajita by preserving these leaves in their homes.

– Shrichitshakti (Mrs.) Anjali Gadgil

D. Worship of instruments : On this day, soldiers and the feudal princes clean their weapons, arrange them in a row and worship them. Farmers and artisans too worship their respective implements or instruments. Some also perform this ritual on the ninth day of Navaratri.

3. The royal way of celebration

Since Dussehra is a festival of triumph, on this day special rituals have been recommended for nobles and kings. This is a festival signifying victory and valour. Before Arjun went into hiding, he placed all his weapons in the hollow of the Shami tree. However, on this day, when the Kourav army was herding away King Virat’s cattle, Arjun pulled out his weapons from the Shami tree and confronted the army and defeated them. It is believed that Shriram too killed Ravan and emerged victorious on this day. To signify these events, this day has been called Vijayadashmi.

Actually, this festival was celebrated even in the ancient times. At that time it was a festival of the peasants. A peasant would celebrate it after bringing home his first monsoon harvest. During the Navaratri, on the day of installation of the pot, nine types of food grains are germinated in the altar. On the day of Dussehra, the sprouted grains are pulled out and offered to the Deities. In several places, the main door of the house is decorated with sheaves of rice grains. This custom also depicts that it is a festival of the peasants. With the passage of time, this festival became religious, and in the historical ages, it acquired a political nature.

(Reference : Bhartiya Sanskritikosh, Volume 4, Page Numbers 319, 320)
Rangoli :  Importance of drawing sattvik rangolis  : All festivals in Hindu Dharma are related to Deities. The Principle of a specific Deity is present in the atmosphere in larger proportion on the day of its
festival. Rangolis attract and emit the Principles of Deities to a greater extent. Hence, the atmosphere gets charged with the Deity’s Principle and everyone benefits.


14 Dots : 14 Lines
Rangoli that emits manifest
marak-shakti (Saviour Principle) 

14 Dots : 14 Lines
Rangoli that emits manifest
marak-shakti (Destroyer Principle)  

11 Dots : 11 Lines
Rangoli that emits tarakshakti (Saviour Principle)

12 Dots : 12 Lines
Rangoli that emits marak-shakti
(Destroyer Principle)

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