As per Indian calendar, Dasara / Vijayadashami is celebrated on 10th day of Ashwin month, Shukla Paksha (first fortnight of the month, ascending towards full moon) (As per Indian Calendar). This is the last day of the 10 days festival.
This festival is celebrated in different ways in various parts of India. There are various stories behind it. These stories tell the reason of why it is to be celebrated. This is the celebration of Maa Durga. Maa Durga is celebrated in her various forms ( incarnation ) all over India.The Sanskrit meaning of Dashahara (Dasara) is ‘Dasha-Hara‘ means ‘removal of bad fate’.
In Gujrath, it is celebrated to mark harvest. This is usually the end of rainy season, crop is growing and some may be ready to cut. Some seeds are planted in a small mud pot and that pot is worshipped for 9 days. On the 10th day that pot is immersed in water. People play a special folk dance during this time which is called as ‘Garba‘.
In North India, it is celebrated to mark win of Lord Rama on Demon Ravana. It is believed that Lord Rama killed Ravana on this day and rescued Sita. This day is celebrated as win of good over the evil.
In Bengal, it is celebrated in the form of Durga Puja. Everyday in the morning and evening the idol of Maa Durga is worshipped and immersed on the 10th day.
In Masharshtra, it is celebrated in the form of Navaratra. 9 days are dedicated to Maa Durga and the 10th day is dedicated to Maa Saraswati – Godess of Knowledge. A symbol is used to depict Maa Saraswati. This day is considered auspicious to start any new learning or to start any new work. Many kings in ancient time considered this day as auspicious to cross the border of their kingdom in order to fight with enemies. It is believed that you will definitely win the war if you cross the border today. Now a days also it is considered auspicious to cross the border of your town.
In Southern India this festival is celebrated with a very unique tradition called as Golu or simply known as Dasara Dolls. The Dasara Dolls is celebrated through an exhibition of various dolls and figurines arranged as per customs. The dolls are arranged and exhibited on a stepped platform having an odd number of steps or tiers (usually 7, 9 or 11) and usually covered with a white or light color cloth. Many households use nine steps for the exhibition of dolls to signify the nine nights of Navaratri. The dolls are ritually worshipped during the celebrations. The more information about this can be read on http://www.karnataka.com/festivals/dasara-doll-festival/
There are different connotations attached to why Dasara is celebrated. The main reason is to celebrate win of good over the evil. Let go a habit which may be you want to change or you don’t like. Inculcate a new habit instead. This is a very auspicious day to start to learn new thing and learning is the only key to success.
This article may not be complete but I am making an effort to let people know about why we celebrate Dasara. I want to thank my friend Smitha Lobo-Mascarenhas for pointing out certain details.
Happy Vijayadashami / Daashahara.