Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashmi, is a major Indian festival celebrated on the tenth day of the Ashvin month according to the Hindu calendar. The day culminates a 9 day fasting period of Navratri in the Hindu culture. It also coincides with the immersion of the idol of Goddess Durga into the sea or a river. The day is celebrated to commemorate the killing of Ravana by Lord Rama. People celebrate the killing of the demon king Mahishasur, by Goddess Durga. Dussehra celebration spreads the message of victory of good over evil.
It is believed that the celebration of Dussehra started in the 17th century when the king of Mysore ordered the celebration of the day on a grand scale. Ever since, the day is celebrated with great fervour and energy. There are a lot of mythological tales associated with the day. According to the Ramayana, Ravana was killed by Lord Rama on this day as a revenge against the cruel act of kidnapping Goddess Sita by the former. Mythology also has it that Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura after a long spell of cruelty and oppression by the latter. Another story associated with the origins of this day is the raining of gold coins. After Kautsa asked King Raghu for 140 million coins to give an offering to his guru in return for his knowledge, Raghuraja went to Indra for help who then asked Lord Kuber to rain coins on the city of Ayodhya. After giving 140 million coins to his guru, Kautsa distributed the rest to the people of Ayodhya.
Dussehra is actually the festival of the Kshattriyas. But all Hindus observe this festival with great joy. Traditionally, in Indian culture, Dussehra was always full of dances, where the whole community mixed, met and mingled. But because of external influences and invasions over the past two hundred years, we have lost that today. Otherwise Dussehra was always very vibrant. The Vijayadashami or Dussehra festival is of a tremendous cultural significance for all of us who live in this land – irrespective of caste, creed, colour or religion – and should be celebrated with gaiety and love. It is my wish and my blessings that all of you should celebrate Dussehra this year and always with total involvement, joy and love.