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Navratri Navaratri festival preparations and performance arts collage.jpg

Vijayadasami reveres Durga’s and Rama’s victory over evil depending on the region.[1]
Also called Dashahra, Dasara, Dashain
Observed by Hindus
Type Religious, Cultural
Significance Celebrates the victory of good over evil
Celebrations Marks the end of Durga Puja and Navaratri
Observances Pandals, plays, community gathering, recitation of scriptures, puja, fasting, immersion of idols or burning of Ravana.
Date Ashvin Shukla Dashami
2022 date 5 October[2]
2023 date 23 October[3]
Explanatory note

Hindu festival dates

Vijayadashami (SanskritविजयदशमीromanizedVijayadaśamī), also known as Dussehra,[a] Dasara or Dashain, is a major Hindu festival celebrated every year at the end of Navaratri. It is observed on the tenth day of the month of Ashvin, the seventh in the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar.[6][7][8] The festival which typically falls in the Gregorian calendar months of September and October.

Vijayadashami is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent.[1][9][6] In the southern, eastern, northeastern, and some northern states of India, Vijayadashami marks the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga‘s victory against the buffalo demon Mahishasura to restore and protect dharma.[6][10][11] In the northern, central and western states, the festival is also called Dussehra (also spelled Dasara, Dashahara). In these regions, it marks the end of Ramlila and commemorates god Rama‘s victory over the demon king Ravana.[12] Alternatively, it marks a reverence for one of the aspects of goddess Devi, such as Durga or Saraswati.[1][7][8]

Vijayadashami celebrations include processions to a river or ocean front that involve carrying clay statues of Durga,[13] Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya, accompanied by music and chants, after which the images are immersed in the water for dissolution and farewell. In other places, towering effigies of Ravana, symbolising evil, are burnt with fireworks, marking evil’s destruction. The festival also starts the preparations for Diwali, the important festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after Vijayadashami.[14][15][1]


Vijayādaśamī (विजयादशमी) is a compound of the two words vijaya (विजय, ‘victory’)[16] and daśamī (दशमी, ‘tenth’),[17] connoting the festival on the tenth day celebrating the victory of good over evil.[1][9][18] The same Hindu festival-related term, however, takes different forms in different regions of India and Nepal, as well as among Hindu minorities found elsewhere.[19]

The word dussehra is the British English spelling of the tadbhava Dasahrā. It is derived daśaharā (दशहरा), which is a Sanskrit compound word composed of daśama (दशम, ‘tenth’) and ahar (अहर्, ‘day’).[20][21][22]

Epic literature[edit]

The celebration of this festival is founded in the epic Ramayana. It is the day Rama defeats the demon king Ravana, after kidnapping Rama’s wife, Sita.[23] Ravana kidnaps Sita and takes her to his kingdom in Lanka (present day Sri Lanka). Rama asks Ravana to release her, but Ravana refuses; the situation escalates and leads to war. Prior to this, Ravana performed severe penance for ten thousand years and received a boon from the creator-god Brahma that he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons, or spirits. However, Rama (a human and incarnate of Lord Vishnu) defeats and kills him, thus circumventing the boon given by Lord Brahma.[24] A battle takes place between Rama and Ravana in which Rama kills Ravana and ends his evil rule. Finally, dharma was established on the Earth because of Rama’s victory over Ravana.[25] The festival commemorates the victory of Good over Evil.[26]

In the Mahabharata, Vijayadashami also marks the day that the Pandava warrior Arjuna defeats the Kauravas.[27] The epic tells the story of the Pandava brothers who are known to have spent their thirteenth year of exile under concealed identity in Matsya, the kingdom of Virata. Before going to Virata, they are known to have hung their celestial weapons in a Shami tree for safekeeping for a year.[28] It was during this time that Kauravas decided to attack the kingdom in which Arjuna retrieved the weapons from the Shami tree and defeated the entire Kaurava army. [29][27]

Regional variations[edit]

Northern India[edit]

Dasara is observed with the burning of Ravana effigies.

In most of northern India, Vijayadashami is celebrated in honour of Lord Rama. In many places, the Ramlila, a dramatic performance on story of Rama is enacted over the 9 days leading up to the festival. The performance is inspired from the Ramcharitmanas, a Hindu text written by Tulsidas.[30] Effigies of the demons Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghanada are also created and burnt on bonfires in the evening.[8] In other cities, such as Varanasi, the entire story is freely acted out by performance-artists before the public every evening for a month.[22]

The performance arts tradition during the Dussehra festival was inscribed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as one of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” in 2008.[31] It is celebrated across northern India for Dussehra, but particularly in historically important Hindu cities of AyodhyaVaranasiVrindavanAlmoraSatna and Madhubani.[31] The festival and dramatic enactment of the virtues versus vices filled story is organised by communities in hundreds of small villages and towns, attracting a mix of audiences from different social, gender and economic backgrounds. In many parts of India, the audience and villagers join in and participate spontaneously, helping the artists, others helping with stage setup, make-up, effigies, and lights.[31] These arts come to a close on the night of Dussehra, when the victory of Rama is celebrated by burning the effigies of the evil Ravana and his allies.[19]

Himachal Pradesh[edit]

Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh and is regionally notable for its large fair and parade witnessed by an estimated half a million people. The festival is a symbol of victory of good over evil by Raghu Nath, and is celebrated like elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent with a procession.[32] The special feature of the Kullu Dussehra procession is the arrival of floats containing deities from different parts of the nearby regions and their journey to Kullu.[33]

South India[edit]

Mysore Dasara procession and celebrations in Karnataka are a major tourist attraction.

Vijayadashami is celebrated in a variety of ways in South India.[34] Celebrations range from worshipping Durga, lighting up temples and major forts such as at Mysore, to displaying colourful figurines, known as a golu.[citation needed]

The festival played a historical role in the 14th-century Vijayanagara Empire, where it was called Mahanavami. The Italian traveller Niccolò de’ Conti described the festival’s intensity and importance as a grandeur religious and martial event with royal support. The event revered Durga as the warrior goddess (some texts refer to her as Chamundeshwari). The celebrations hosted athletic competitions, singing and dancing, fireworks, a pageantry military parade and charitable giving to the public.[35][36]

The city of Mysore has traditionally been a major center of Dasara-Vijayadashami celebrations.[35]

This festival is called Dasara in Karnataka and the 10 day festival is celebrated as Shara navaratri where the Goddess in every temple is worshiped for 10 days in 10 forms with different Alankar/forms to signify different Goddesses avatar.[citation needed] Many cultural programs and competitions are organized in many cities like MysuruShivamogaBengaluru etc. On the evening of the last day of the ten-festival, the temple’s Goddesses are taken in a procession to mark victory over evil and the completion of the war. People of Karnataka exchange leaves of Shami tree as symbol of gold on 10th day evening marking the win over demon. Another Navaratri tradition in Karnataka has been decorating a part of one’s home with art dolls called Gombe or Bombe, similar to Golu dolls of Tamil Nadu. An art-themed Gaarudi Gombe, featuring folk dances that incorporate these dolls, is also a part of the celebration.

Another significant and notable tradition of several South Indian regions has been the dedication of this festival to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music and arts. She is worshipped along with instruments of one’s trade during this festival. In South India, people maintain, clean and worship their instruments, tools of work and implements of their livelihood during this festival, remembering Goddess Saraswati and Durga.[19]

Children aged 3–4 who are new to school are admitted to school on Vijayadashami Day.[37]

Western India[edit]

Saraswati puja on Vijayadashami in Maharashtra with symbolic drawing (yantra) of the Goddess on a slate.

Colorful floor patterns to mark Vijayadashami.

In Gujarat, people engage the popular festival, Navaratri, a nine-day festival that takes places before Vijayadashami. Both the goddess Durga and Lord Rama are revered for their victory over evil. Fasting and prayers at temples are common. A regional dance called Dandiya Raas, that deploys colourfully decorated sticks, and garba, (another type of regional dance) is a part of the festivities through the night.[38]

The Gondi people instead celebrate Ravan by carrying an image of him riding an elephant and singing praises to him, as they consider Ravan as their ancestor and one of their gods.[39][40] In Goa, this festival is locally known as Dasro in Konkani, marks Goddess Durga’s victory over the demon Mahishasura, concludes the festivities. Insignia known as Taranga play an important role in the festivities, which are sacred umbrellas that symbolize the village deities. At many temples, a dance of the Tarangas is held. Oracles are associated with Dasara in Goa. On this day, a ritual called Seemollanghan of the deities is held. For this people make a symbolic crossing of the border of their village. The icons of deities are carried in a grand procession. The tradition traces its roots to ancient times when kings would cross the border of their kingdom to wage war with the neighbouring kingdom. After Seemollanghan, there is a tradition wherein people exchange Aaptyachi pana. These leave symbolise gold and the ritual is a symbolic representation of the exchange of gold.[41]

The festival is also celebrated as a harvest festival by farmers and has an important association with Agricultural activities. At Dussehra, Kharif crops like Rice, Guar, Cotton, Soybean, Maize, finger millet, pulses are generally ready for harvest, farmers begin their harvest on the day. Farmers bring crops like Kharif crops from their fields for further processing and for trade. Due to this, daily arrivals of these crops in markets of the country normally increases significantly during this period.[42]

The festival has been historically important in Maharashtra. Maratha forces in 17th and 18th centuries including those of Shivaji and the Peshwas would start their new military campaigns on Dasara.[43][44][45] In North Maharashtra this festival is known as Dasara, and on this day people wear new clothes, and touch feet of elderly people and deities of the village temple.[46] The deities installed on the first day of Navaratri are immersed in water. Observers visit each other and exchange sweets.[47] Many communities in Maharashtra including the tribal communities of warli and Kokna exchange leaves of Apta tree as symbol of gold.[48]

Durga image is immersed into river on Vijayadashami in eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent.

In Mewar region of Rajasthan, both Durga and Rama have been celebrated on Vijayadashami, and it has been a major festival for Rajput warriors.[35]

Eastern India[edit]

In West Bengal Vijayadashami is observed as Bijoya Dashomi, immediately after the day of Dashomi (the tenth day of Navaratri). It is marked by processions in which clay statues are taken to a river or ocean for a solemn goodbye to Durga. Many mark their faces with vermilion (sindoor) or wear red clothing. It is an emotional day for some devotees, especially the Bengalis, and even for many atheists as the congregation sings goodbye songs.[49][50] When the procession reaches the water, the clay statues of Durga and her four children are immersed; the clay dissolves and they are believed to return to Mount Kailasha with Shiva, and to the cosmos in general. People distribute sweets and gifts, and visit friends and family members.[51] Some communities such as those near Varanasi mark the eleventh day, called ekadashi, by visiting a Durga temple.[52]


Puting tika on forehead and jamara above ears

Puting tika on forehead and jamara above ears

In Nepal, Vijayadashami follows the festival of Dashain. Youngsters visit the elders in their family, distant ones come to their native homes, students visit their school teachers and government workers visit head of the state (previously king now president). The elders and teachers welcome the youngsters and bless them for virtuous success and prosperity in the year ahead.[53][54] Elders give “Dakshina”, or a small amount of money, to younger relatives at this time along with the blessings. It is celebrated for 15 days from Shukla Paksha to Poornima. The red tika or simply tika symbolizes the blessings of goddess durga. Red also symbolizes the blood that ties the family together.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The word dussehra is the Anglicized form of the Indic word daśahrā.


  1. Jump up to:a b c d e Fuller, Christopher John (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-0-69112-04-85.
  2. ^ December 17, 2021UPDATED (27 December 2021). “When is Dussehra in 2022: Date, time, history and significance”India Today. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  3. ^ “Dussehra 2023 – Calender Date”.
  4. ^ “Dussehra 2020 Date, Time & Significance – Times of India”The Times of India. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  5. ^ “Vijayadashami 2020: Vijay Muhurat date, timings and Sindoor Khela”Zee News. 25 October 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  6. Jump up to:a b c Encyclopedia Britannica 2015.
  7. Jump up to:a b Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 212–213, 468–469.
  8. Jump up to:a b c Encyclopedia Britannica Dussehra 2015.
  9. Jump up to:a b Lochtefeld 2002, p. 751.
  10. ^ Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 468–469.
  11. ^ “Dussehra 2020 (Vijayadashami): Story, Ram Setu, Lord Rama & True God”S A NEWS. 25 October 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  12. ^ Bhalla, Kartar Singh (February 2005). Let’s Know Festivals of India. Star Publications. ISBN 978-81-7650-165-1.
  13. ^ “Dussehra 2020: Date, Puja Timings, History, Significance and Importance”The Indian Express. 25 October 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  14. ^ Gall, Susan B.; Natividad, Irene (1995). The Asian-American Almanac. Gale Research. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8103-9193-2.
  15. ^ Singh, Rina (2016). Diwali. Orca. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1-4598-1008-2.
  16. ^ “Sanskrit-English Dictionary” Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  17. ^ “Sanskrit-English Dictionary” Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  18. ^ “Dussehra 2018: Why is it celebrated? – Times of India”The Times of India. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  19. Jump up to:a b c Jones & Ryan 2006, pp. 308–309.
  20. ^ “Sanskrit-English Dictionary” Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  21. ^ “Sanskrit-English Dictionary” Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  22. Jump up to:a b Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 212–213.
  23. ^ “Dussehra | Festival, Meaning, Puja, & Significance | Britannica” Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  24. ^ Lochtefeld 2002, p. 212, 568.
  25. ^ Rosen, Steven (16 May 2008). Essential Hinduism. Praeger. ISBN 978-0-7425-6237-0.
  26. ^ Lochtefeld 2002, p. 212.
  27. Jump up to:a b Building Solidarity: Challenge to Christian Mission. ISPCK. 2008. p. 132. ISBN 978-81-8458-063-1.
  28. ^ Krishna, Nanditha; M, Amirthalingam (2014). Sacred Plants of India (first ed.). Penguin books india 2014. pp. 171–175. ISBN 9780143066262.
  29. ^ Hegde, Narayan G. (1 April 2022). Shami Tree: Teacher For Humanity. Notion Press. ISBN 979-8-88606-658-6.
  30. ^ Lochtefeld 2002, p. 558-559.
  31. Jump up to:a b c Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana, UNESCO
  32. ^ Dutta, Sanjay (11 October 2008). “International Dussehra festival kicks-off at Kullu”The Indian Express. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  33. ^ Lochtefeld 2002, p. 213.
  34. ^ “Navratri celebrations in South India: All you need to know”The Indian Express. 7 October 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  35. Jump up to:a b c Fuller, Christopher John (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press. pp. 117–119. ISBN 978-0-69112-04-85.
  36. ^ Sivapriyananda, S (1995). Mysore Royal Dasara. Abhinav Publications. pp. 73–75.
  37. ^ “Vijayadasami admissions on in schools despite instructions against mid-year intake”. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  38. ^ Thaker, Aruna; Barton, Arlene (2012). Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-4051-7358-2.
  39. ^ Asuras? No, Just Indians, Outlook India
  40. ^ Celebrating RavanThe Hindu
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  42. ^ “Dussehra Celebrations and their Relation with Agriculture”Krishi Jagaran. 24 October 2020.
  43. ^ Mehta, Jaswant Lal (2005). Advanced Study in the History of Modern India 1707–1813. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. pp. 505–509. ISBN 978-1-932705-54-6.
  44. ^ Sabharwal, Gopa (2006). Ethnicity and Class: Social Divisions in an Indian City. Oxford University Press. pp. 123–125. ISBN 978-0-19-567830-7.
  45. ^ Gokhale, B. G. (1985). The Religious Complex in Eighteenth-Century Poona. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 105(4), 719–724.
  46. ^ Satpathy, Kriti Saraswat (7 October 2016). “Dasara 2016: Dussehra celebration in Maharashtra”India News, Breaking News, Entertainment News | Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  47. ^ Shirgaonkar, Varsha. “”Madhyayugin Mahanavami aani Dasara”.” Chaturang, Loksatta (1996).
  48. ^ Tribhuwan, R.D., 2003. Tribal Festivals in Maharashtra. Fairs and Festivals of Indian Tribes, p.85-86.[1]
  49. ^ Rodrigues 2003, pp. 244–245.
  50. ^ McDaniel 2004, pp. 168–169.
  51. ^ Rodrigues 2003, pp. 66–67, 236–241, 246–247.
  52. ^ Rodrigues 2003, pp. 67–68.
  53. ^ Deep, Dhurba Krishna (1993). Popular Deities, Emblems & Images of Nepal. Nirala. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-81-85693-25-5.
  54. ^ Thapa, Netra Bahadur; Thapa, D. P. (1969). Geography of Nepal: Physical, Economic, Cultural & Regional. Orient Longmans. pp. 92–93.


External links[edit]