Vijayadashmi

Vijayadashami (Sanskrit: विजयदशमी) also known as Dussehra (Sanskrit: दशहरा) or Ayudhapuja (Sanskrit: आयुधपूजा), is an important Hindu festival celebrated in a variety of ways in Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and parts of Pakistan.”Dussehra” is derived from Sanskrit; Dasha-hara is a form of Dashanan ravan (“Ravana’s defeat”).

The day marks the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura. The goddess fought with evil for ten days and nine nights. “Vijayadashami” is derived from the Sanskrit vijaya-dashami (victory on the dashami: the tenth day of the Hindu month). Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated twenty days after Vijayadashami.

Vijayadashami is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu calendar, corresponding to September or October of the Gregorian calendar. The first nine days are celebrated as Navratri (Devnagari: नवरात्रि, “nine nights”), culminating on the tenth day as Dussehra.

Since the harvest season begins in India and Nepal at this time, the Durga is invoked by religious rituals to begin the harvest season and renew the fertility of the soil. Many Hindus observe the festival with social gatherings and food offerings to the gods at home and in temples throughout India and Nepal.

On this day Rama (the seventh avatar of Vishnu) killed Ravana, who had abducted Rama’s wife Sita to his kingdom Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their disciple Hanuman and an army fought a battle to rescue Sita. The story is recorded in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana.

Followers of B. R. Ambedkar (Ambedkarite Buddhists) celebrate the festival as Ashok Vijayadashmi, since the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka is believed to have converted to Buddhism on this day.Ambedkar converted to Buddhism on this day at Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur in 1956, which fell on 14 October that year. A festival and congregation is held at Nagpur, Maharashtra. Ambedkarite Buddhists organize community celebrations with speeches, meals and Buddhist-themed entertainment.

On the first day of Navratri, Punjabis sow pulses, cereals, barley and other seeds in a pot; after nine days, the seeds sprout. The custom, known as khetri, signifies prosperity. On Vijayadashami, the 3-to-5-inch (76 to 127 mm)-long seedlings are immersed in water.Punjabi farmers harvest the kharif crop after Vijayadashami, and the rabi crop is planted after Diwali.