By Shiv Handa aged 12 years old.
It is the time of year when many Indians, all over the world, prepare for dancing, singing, fireworks and spending time with one another. Vijayadashmi, most commonly known as Dussehra, is rapidly approaching and everybody is getting ready to visit the temple for a good time and a lot of food!
Dussehra is a massive occasion that is celebrated every year in September or October, depending on the Indian calendar. It is celebrated to commemorate the success of Lord Ram over Ravan and is connected with the celebration of Diwali. Dussehra aims to teach us the true value of being a good person. Ramayana, a story that is told at the time of Dussehra and Diwali, tells us that Ram triumphs over Ravan.
As Ram denotes purity, the symbolism helps us to understand why and how he won. On the day of Dussehra, we also celebrate the goddess Durga for her courage. Dussehra marks the end of a nine-day fasting period called Navratri. During Navratri people pray, go to the temple and also attend dancing events called Garba. This year Dussehra will fall on October 4th.
On the day of Dussehra, most Indians go to the temple for prayer, events, food and entertainment. Fundraising for the communities’ local temple is also a very common aspect of the celebration. Everybody enjoys this day, whether it involves partaking in a performance in front of hundreds of people or simply relishing the atmosphere. Dussehra concludes with fireworks and the burning of a statue of Ravan. During the burning of the statue we remember the story of Ramayana. The fireworks are very fun to watch and a brilliant conclusion.
Following on from Dussehra is Diwali. This year Diwali falls on October 23rd. Diwali and Dussehra fit well with each other, since they follow the same story. Diwali has similar events to Dussehra, however, it is much better known and is even taught in schools. During Diwali we pray, eat, see some entertainment and enjoy the fireworks and sparklers. Similarly to Dussehra, Diwali can be celebrated in the temple or at home.
Diwali is all about the festival of light, as it is the day when Ram and Sita, from the story Ramayana, finally arrived home after the rivalry between Ram and Ravan. During this celebration we pray to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, to bring good luck for the coming year. On the day of Diwali, we clean our houses properly to receive a blessing from Lakshmi. This is one of the key parts of Diwali.
Overall, both Dussehra and Diwali are massive festivals celebrated by the traditional Indian culture. Everybody can celebrate Dussehra, whatever your religion. The main reason we hold these celebrations is to bring everybody closer together to feel more like a community. I am really looking forward to Dussehra and Diwali, hopefully everybody else is looking forward to it as much as I am!
What is your favourite festival to celebrate?