Dussehra (Vijaya-dashmi)

The Sanskrit word Mahish mean scholar. Scholarliness leads to egoism and Mahish become Mahishasur (Mahish+asur meaning a scholarly demon). A Sanskrit saying reads: asushu ramante iti asurah meaning, the one who is busy enjoying life and deriving materialistic happiness, becomes a demon. And, such a demon exists in every human mind. Overcoming this Mhishasur is termed as Vijaya-dashmi.

Vijaya-dashmi si a festival related to many spiritual, historical and social victories, valor and virility. Dash+hara means the sign of victory heralded by Lord Ranchandra after overcoming a ten-headed demon. On this very day, the Pandavas returned after completing their exile and re-possessed their weapons that were hidden on a Shami tree. After a tireless battle that lasted for nine days, Durga ended the life of Mahishasura on Dussehra.

During Navratri celebrations, Durga Puja is performed for the destruction of Mahishasura within oneself, Lakshmi Puja is performed for relief of physical, mental and financial suffering, and Saraswati Pujan is performed for for enlightenment. The ten directions are overwhelmed by the power of fasting for nine days, worshiping, chanting religious rhymes and performing Yajna. The victory achieved in these ten directions is Vijaya-dashami.

On the day of Vijayadashami, Kubera rained gold coins on the Apta tree at the gate of Raghuraja’s (Lord Rama’s ancestor) city as per Indra’s order. Kautsa gave 14 crore gold coins as Gurudakshina and the rest of the gold was distributed to people by Raghuraja. That is why on Vijaya-dashami, apata leaves are given to each other. This is called looting gold.

Apta is called Ashmantak in Sanskrit. This apta, which destroys the kidney stone, grows on the barren land. It is useful in diseases like dermatitis, excess thirst and gonorrhea and is also beneficial in bile and phlegm defects. (Reference: Dhanvantari Nighantu)

On the day of Dussehra, believers go out of the village for Simollangana and pray to the Shami tree. Shamipatra is offered while worshiping weapons on Dussehra. Shami is an ayurvedic plant grown in India. Shami wood is used for fuel. This wood can be rubbed against each other to create fire. Therefore, Samidha of Shami is used in Yajna. The leaves of the tree, the knots on the tree as well as on the leaves, the pods are medicinal. Like Durva, Shami destroys the stiffness in the body.

All the flowers, leaves and plants used in worship are medicinal. The next day, after bathing Gods, when all these Nirmalyas remain dipped in the water in a Tamhana (copper plate) for some time, its medicinal properties are incorporated in that water. The water is loaded due to the chanting of mantras during pooja and a spoonful of this of water acts as a medicine.

Dussehra is one of the three-and-a-half Mahurats (auspicious moments). Muhurat is the right time for good deeds. On this movement, the date, the day, the constellation, Yoga and Karan are all auspicious. This auspicious day teaches us the cultivation of useful and medicinal plants. Shows the importance of Saraswati along with Lakshmi. It also teaches that knowledge looks good only with modesty.

Every festival in Indian culture is about preserving, nurturing and balancing the entire creation. Everyone must participate in it.

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