Dussehra: The Triumph of Good Over Evil and A Multifaceted Celebration

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Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is a vibrant and culturally rich Hindu festival celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm across India. This festival holds immense significance in Hindu mythology and tradition, marking the victory of good over evil. Beyond the legendary story, Dussehra is a complex festival that includes a wide range of traditions, customs, and regional variants. We will go deeply into the many facets of Dussehra in this in-depth blog article, studying its history, customs, regional foods, and modern significance.

Historical and Mythological Significance of Dussehra

Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is a festival of tremendous historical and legendary significance in Hindu culture. It is a long-standing emblem of the triumph of virtue over evil in the literature and customs of ancient India. The historical and mythical importance of Dussehra is examined here:

The Ramayana and Lord Rama’s Victory

The most prominent mythological narrative associated with Dussehra is the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. The ancient Indian classic The Ramayana contains this tale. In this well-known epic from the Ramayana, Lord Rama, a particular manifestation of the divinity Vishnu, embarked on a quest to locate his wife Sita. Ravana, a strong demon king with 10 heads, abducted her and then caught her. This story is like a symbol for the ongoing battle between what’s right and what’s wrong, showing how good can overcome evil. Ravana represents evil and vanity with his enormous power and wisdom, whereas Lord Rama stands for justice, virtue, and dharma (duty).

 After a fierce battle, Lord Rama, aided by his devoted allies, including Hanuman, defeated Ravana on the tenth day of the war, which is celebrated as Dussehra. Sita was rescued, and good triumphed over evil.

The Significance of Ravana

While Dussehra predominantly celebrates the victory of Lord Rama, some interpretations suggest a more nuanced view of Ravana. Beyond being a demon king, Ravana is also regarded as a scholar, a devotee of Lord Shiva, and a master of the veena (a musical instrument). This complexity in Ravana’s character prompts some to reflect on the idea that good and evil coexist within us all, a theme that adds depth to the festival. It is all upon us that which face dominates our personality.

The Significance of the Tenth Day (Dussehra)

The term “Dussehra” is derived from two Sanskrit words, “Dasha” meaning ten and “Hara” meaning defeat. The name underscores the defeat of the ten-headed Ravana by Lord Rama. On this day, effigies of Ravana, his brothers Kumbhakarna and Vibhishana, and his son Meghanada (Indrajit) are erected in various parts of India. These effigies are then set on fire in a symbolic reenactment of Ravana’s destruction, marking the victory of good over evil.

Dussehra: The Triumph of Goddess Durga Over Mahishasura

While Dussehra is widely known for its association with Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, it’s important to recognize that this festival holds different historical significance in various parts of India. In many regions, especially in Eastern India, Dussehra is celebrated as the victory of Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon Mahishasura. Let’s delve into the historical background and significance of this version of Dussehra:

Mahishasura: An unformidable Demon

Hindu mythology describes Mahishasura as a powerful demon who was endowed with invincibility by Lord Brahma. He gained near-indestructibility as a result of this blessing, and he started to wreck both heaven and earth. His relentless rampage and tyranny threatened the existence of the gods and mortals alike.

Unable to withstand Mahishasura’s power, the gods, including Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, combined their energies to create a divine feminine force. This force took the form of Goddess Durga, who was radiant, powerful, and adorned with weapons and blessings from each god. Riding a fierce lion, she confronted Mahishasura in a battle that lasted for nine days and nights.

Goddess Durga’s Epic Battle and Victory

The battle between Mahishasura and Goddess Durga is a central theme of Dussehra in regions like West Bengal, where it’s celebrated with great fervor as Durga Puja. During these nine days, elaborate idols of Goddess Durga are worshiped in beautifully decorated pandals (temporary structures) by millions of devotees.

Mahishasura Mardini

On the tenth day, known as Vijayadashami, the grand culmination takes place. The goddess is bid farewell and immersed in water bodies, symbolizing her return to her heavenly abode after defeating Mahishasura. The immersion marks the victory of righteousness and the restoration of peace and order.

Dussehra and Buddhism: An Unknown Connection of Universal Values

Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is primarily a Hindu festival celebrated with immense fervor and enthusiasm across India. It symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, with its most famous stories centered around Hindu mythology, particularly the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. However, there is an intriguing connection between Dussehra and Buddhism that highlights the celebration’s universal values transcending religious boundaries. In Buddhism it is celebrated as Ashoka Vijayadashami, also known as Ashoka’s Dhamma Vijayadashami. It refers to an event associated with Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism and his commitment to non-violence and dharma (righteousness), holds immense historical and moral significance.

Emperor Ashoka’s Transformation:

Emperor Ashoka was initially known as Chand Ashoka, a powerful monarch who ruled the Mauryan Empire, which extended over a significant portion of the Indian subcontinent. Ashoka’s early reign was marked by military conquests and territorial expansion. However, a pivotal moment in his life came after the Kalinga War, a brutal conflict waged in present-day Odisha. The Kalinga War, fought around 261 BCE, resulted in a devastating loss of life and immense suffering. Witnessing the horrors of this war, Emperor Ashoka was deeply affected. The sight of the battlefield strewn with the dead and wounded made him question the human cost of his imperial ambitions. He began to experience a profound moral and spiritual transformation.

Ashoka Transformation

Emperor Ashoka’s inner turmoil eventually led him to embrace Buddhism. He embraced the values of non-violence, compassion, and dharma, and these ideas became the cornerstones of his administration. His rebirth as a Buddhist signaled a crucial turning point in his rule. Ashoka’s commitment to Buddhism was not only a personal transformation but also a transformation of his empire.

Vijayadashami in Ashoka’s Life

Vijayadashami, the tenth day of the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin, is celebrated as the day of victory in various parts of India. For Ashoka, it marked his personal victory over the pursuit of power through violence. It signified his commitment to a path of non-violence, righteousness, and moral governance.

On this day, Ashoka renounced the idea of conquest through warfare and instead sought to conquer hearts and minds through the propagation of dharma. His Dhamma Vijayadashami was a celebration of moral triumph and a commitment to upholding dharma within his kingdom.

Dusshera and Dr. B.R Ambedkar

India’s social and cultural environment saw a significant transition on the auspicious day of October 14, 1956. The nation’s respected first law minister and the brilliant architect of the constitution, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, oversaw a pivotal period in history. Dr. Ambedkar took the momentous choice to adopt Buddhism, signifying a dramatic break from his prior connection with Hinduism. He was accompanied by an astounding assembly of more than 300,000 committed followers.

Ambedkar accepting Buddhism

This momentous event is eternally enshrined in history as “Dhammachakra Pravartan Din.” This event marks the beginning of a new era, a major change, and a deep shift in the beliefs of many people who were looking for comfort and fairness in Buddhism. Dr. Ambedkar’s choice to follow Buddhism was not just something he did for himself. It was a small aspect of a larger campaign to demand equality and reject an unjust social structure. It delivered a powerful message of hope, change, and the quest of justice for the downtrodden and disenfranchised.

“Dhammachakra Pravartan Din” is a powerful reminder of the enduring human spirit and the relentless quest for social justice and equality. It continues to inspire generations with its message of change, the triumph of enlightenment over ignorance, and the unwavering pursuit of a more just and compassionate society.

Regional Variations and Traditions

Dussehra is a festival that reflects India’s rich cultural diversity. While the central theme remains consistent, each region puts its unique spin on the celebration. Let’s take a closer look at some of these regional variations and traditions:

  1. North India – Ramlila Performances: In the northern states, particularly Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, Ramlila performances take center stage. These are elaborate theatrical reenactments of Lord Rama’s life, drawing large crowds. The effigy of Ravana, often accompanied by those of his brothers and son Meghanada, is set ablaze amidst fireworks and cheering spectators.
  2. South India – Vijayadashami: In the southern states, Dussehra is known as Vijayadashami. It holds immense educational and cultural significance. This is the day when children are initiated into formal education, marking the beginning of their academic journey. The tradition of “Vidyarambham” involves writing the first letter of the alphabet, with the help of a guru or teacher.
  3. West Bengal – Durga Puja: In West Bengal, Dussehra is intertwined with the grand celebration of Durga Puja. This multi-day festival honors the goddess Durga and her victory over the demon Mahishasura. Dussehra here is marked by the immersion of Durga idols in water bodies, symbolizing her return to Mount Kailash.
  4. Mysore – The Mysore Dasara: Mysore, in Karnataka, is renowned for its grand Dasara celebration. The Mysore Palace is illuminated with thousands of lights, and a grand procession featuring the royal family and caparisoned elephants winds its way through the city. The Goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped, and cultural events, including classical dance performances, are held.
  5. East India – Goddess Durga: In parts of eastern India, Dussehra is observed as the victory of Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Elaborate pandals (temporary structures) are set up to house Durga idols, and the festival includes cultural performances and processions.
  6. Ayudha Puja and Saraswati Puja: In many regions, Dussehra is an occasion to perform Ayudha Puja, where people worship tools, vehicles, and weapons. Additionally, Saraswati Puja is dedicated to the goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts. For knowledge and creativity, students and artists seek her blessings.

Contemporary Celebrations and Social Impact

In contemporary India, Dussehra remains a major cultural and social event. It’s a time when families come together, exchange gifts, and enjoy festive meals. Due to increased consumer spending on apparel, presents, and other things, the festival significantly boosts local economies.A possibility for artists and crafters to showcase their skills is provided by the creation of idols and beautiful objects.

People from all walks of life gather together to celebrate Dussehra in order to acknowledge the spirit of good triumphing over evil and the potential of a better future, which is relevant to all communities, not just the Hindu community. It encourages societal harmony, intercultural dialogue, and peace.

Environmental Concerns and Celebrating Responsibly

With the increasing awareness of environmental issues, there is a growing emphasis on celebrating Dussehra in an eco-friendly manner. The burning of effigies during Ramlila, for instance, can lead to air pollution and waste generation. The use of eco-friendly materials and natural colors for effigies is now widely encouraged by towns and organizations, and some have even adopted the practice of recycling and reusing materials.

Furthermore, environmental and public health issues have arisen as a result of firework noise pollution. Some regions have adopted quieter and more environmentally friendly alternatives, encouraging the use of LED lights and music performances in place of firecrackers.


The historical significance of Dussehra in the context of Goddess Durga and Mahishasura as well as victory of Lord Rama over Ravana lies in the celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Dussehra, with its diverse regional traditions and timeless message of good conquering evil, continues to be a festival that unites the people of India in celebration. It reflects the rich tapestry of Indian culture, showcasing the depth and diversity of its customs and beliefs.

As society evolves, so do the celebrations, with an increasing emphasis on environmental responsibility and inclusivity. Dussehra reminds us of the enduring power of myth and tradition to adapt and stay relevant in the modern world while maintaining its core message of righteousness and hope. Whether you witness the grandeur of Mysore Dasara or the vibrant pandals of West Bengal, Dussehra offers a unique window into the heart and soul of India, where the light of good always triumphs over the darkness of evil.

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