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DUSSEHRA              (Written by Sonal Kulshrestha) 

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Happy Dussehra or Subh Vijayadashami to All!                       

For those of us who grew up in India, we remember all too clearly and nostalgically the effigies of Ravana (the demon king), Meghnada (his son) and Kumbhakarana (his brother) being burnt down across the city symbolising the victory of good over evil.

That is what Dussehra was all about back home in India! That and the good food that was cooked that day- pooris and the pulao (as my parents remind me every single Dussehra). Still is, for those living there and for those who are not, but do manage to visit the local hindu temples and cook a feast after a busy day at work. And when it falls on a weekend- that's just perfect!

No mattar where we live, and at what level we celebrate the festival, we do want to pass on the story of why Dussehra is celebrated to our kids. Afterall, we don't want to be embarrassed by our kids' lack of knowledge ;). They do know, but without the advantage of large scale celebration each year, that provide much needed reiteration, they tend to forget. 

So very briefly, for the kids- When is it celebrated?

As the name suggests Vijayadashmi or Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu lunar calendar. The first nine days are celebrated as Navaratri that begin on the new moon day called, Amavasya.

Why is it celebrated?

The most popular story associated with Dussehra is that on this day, Shri Ram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama's wife Sita, taking her to his kingdom of Lanka. Lord Ram, His brother Lakshman, His follower, Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought the battle against the asuras to rescue Sita. The entire narrative is recorded in the epic Ramayana, a Hindu scripture.

Also, according to Kalyani Bhat, who has taught religious classes in the DFW Hindu Temple of Texas for over 8 years, symbolism of Navratri and Dusserah like any other Hindu festival is triumph of good over evil. Two other significant events are also said to have occurred around the time, culminating on Dusserah-

- during the 9 days of Navaratri, Durga is said to have fought the war against the demon, Mahishasura, finally slaying him on the 10th day
- Also Pandavas, the 5 prince in the epic Mahabaratha, are said to have completed the last few days of their exile, retrieving their weapons and coming out of hiding on the day of Dussehra. Hence we worship our shastras, tools of our trade on this day along with Saraswati pujan.

This pictures of Dussehra celebration in Delhi (above) and preparation for Ravan Dhahan in Bhopal (left)( photo credit, Shefali Kuls) will definitely evoke memories for most of us.

Again Happy Dussehra To All!

May the evil around us and within us end.

May good always prevail.


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