By: Poornima Hariharan
Okay, so we have finally headed towards mid-September, kids happily enjoying their quarterly holidays, India exuberantly waiting for its back to back festivals and then there is food – loads of it! We know what you are guessing and I’m telling the same! Yes, this is the Dussehra period and my two arms are not just enough to embrace this mighty festival. Perhaps I’ll settle on to call this a "festival of women" especially for its overwhelming grandeur and magnificence that are delicately handled by women exclusively. And all these 10 days, the giddying aroma of sweets and sundals are enough to keep your taste bud active round the clock.
So the north calls this Dussehra and the South calls it Navrathri but what makes this festival a ten day affair? Well, like several other festivals, this one too is surrounded by legend - not one but many. From sweets to savouries and the “stories”, be a tad more well informed this Dessehra and just let yourself in on the secret!
The numerous legends
Before we glue you to your seats with those more-than-one-stories, here are a few facts about this 10 day gala festival. Apparently, Dussehra is celebrated on during the 10th day Ashwin – a Hindu month. Dussehra is not just a festival of India but as well celebrated with great reverence and enthuse in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. Apart from this, this festival as well marks the commencement of harvest season and farmers earnestly pray forfertile land and rich crops.
Well, did you know, this festival is also marked as Vishwakarma Divas, kind of a Labour Day. On this occasion we take upon worshiping even petty things like vehicles, books, spades, kitchen knives etc., (in my case perhaps the entire kitchen) that comes handy in our everyday activity. And finally, it is the age old good winning over the evil like many other legends!
Slaying of Ravana
Amongst the several stories of Good vs Evil, Lord Rama’s triumph over Ravana was quite a popular one. It is believed that Rama killed this Asura (Demon King) in order to bring back Sita who was abducted by Ravana. For this very reason, in several parts of India, the simulacra of Ravana, Kumbhakarn (his brother) and Meghandad (his son) are set ablaze.
It is also believed that after 20 days from the festival of Dussehra, Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana returned to Ayodhya. To mark this day, the entire of city of Ayodhya is lit with hundreds and hundreds of earthen lamps and this day are celebrated as Diwali.
Pandavas final year of Agnyatawas
Remember, how the Pandavas lost all of their possessions to the Kauravas in the "Game of Dice" and went on a 12 years exile (Vanavas) to live in forests and one year in incognito? After spending 12 years in several forests, the Pandavas and Draupadi went on to live in the Virat Kingdom hiding their Astras (weapons) in a Shami tree. However, while the six of them spending their year in disguise, Virat Kingdom was attacked by the Kauravas and therefore, the brothers had to come out of their disguise. This petty war was first event to take place among several other events that eventually led to the Kurukshetra war.
Priya Suresh lives in Paris and cooks delicious South Indian food with a French touch.know more