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Dasara : important & fascinating festivals of India

Dasara is one of the most important festivals for Hindus. All the Hindus living in India celebrate this festival. It is a ten day festival celebrated in honour of the mother Goddess. It is also a festival to celebrate victory of good over evil. Dasara is celebrated in different ways in different parts of our country. The festival starts on the first day of the month of'Aswija' i.e., on 'Suddha Paadyami day of Aswija month' and lasts for 10 days ending on the Vijayadasami day. Mother Goddess is worshipped in the form of ten 'Avataras' - 1. Bala, 2. Lalitha 3. Annapurna 4. Aswarudha, 5. Rajamatanga, 6. Vagdevini, 7. Varahi, 8. Parasakti, 9. Bhuvaneswari, and 10. Chandi.

In the south, Dasara is celebrated in the name of "Devi Navaratri" for nine days and nights. Out of the nine days the last three days - Durgastami, Mahanavami and Vijayadasami - are important.  In North India Dasara is a festival to commemorate Rama's victory over Ravana. It is a victory of good over evil. On Vijayadasami day all villages, towns and cities have a festive look. Children, men and women wear new clothes, say prayers to Durga, eat festive dishes and reach Ramlila grounds by evening. There huge effigies of Ravana, Kumbakarna his brother, and Meghanadha his son, are erected. A mock battle is fought by Rama and Lakshmana on one side, and the demons on the other side. The effigies are then razed to ground amidst the cries of 'Ramchandar ki Jai'. Rajputs in Rajasthan worship their weapons on that day.

In Bengal, Dasara is celebrated with pomp in honour of Goddess Durga. Huge Durga idols are made and worshipped devotedly for three days. Some animals are also sacrifised. On Vijayadasami day, Mother Durga is taken out in a procession with Devi Lakshmi on one side and Devi Saraswati on the other side. Similarly Sri Ganesh is put on one side and Sri Karthikeya, another son of the Goddess, is placed on the other side. At the end of the procession all idols are immersed in water.

In the South 'Devi Navartri' is celebrated with pomp and piety in all temples. The temples of Kanchi Kamakshi, Madura Meenakshi, Kanaka Durga of Vijayawada, and Bramaramba of Srisailam attract large number of pilgrims. On the seventh day Saraswati Puja is performed. All students pray to the Goddess of Learning on that day. All weapons and tools are cleaned and worshipped on Navami day. Cars, buses etc., may be seen fully decorated on that day. Vijayadasami day is considered to be an auspicious day for starting all new ventures. It is said that Pandavas kept all their weapons hidden in a 'Sami tree' when they were doing 'Agnatavasa', in the kingdom of Virata and they took back their weapons on Vijayadasami day, worshipping the Sami tree. People consider it good to go to the Sami tree and pray to it on Vijayadasami day. Dasara is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India, and it is a festival of joy for all. All consider it as a celebration of victory of good over evil. It is a festival enjoyed by all.

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