Vijayadashami 2021; History, Significance and how it is celebrated in Kerala explained

Vijayadashami, also known as Dussehra, Dasara, or Dashain, is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navaratri every year. In the northern, central, and western states, the festival is synonymously called Dussehra. This year Dussehra is celebrated on October 15 with much fervor and rituals. Dussehra is common in North Indian states and Karnataka while the term Vijayadashami is more popular in West Bengal. In some parts of the South, the day sees several poojas and spiritual processions take place to mark the end of the Durga Puja. 

History and Significance

The day is marked as Vijayadasami at the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to restore and protect dharma. There are mainly two reasons for the tenth day of Durga Puja. Firstly, on this day, the idol of Goddess Durga is immersed in water, marking the end of the Navratri. Secondly, Dussehra is believed to be the day when Lord Rama defeated Ravana and his army in a long battle. Dussehra also signifies getting rid of sins or bad qualities as each head of the Ravana symbolizes one bad quality. 

The celebrations include processions to a river or ocean front that involve carrying clay statues of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya. The processions are accompanied by music, chants, after which the images are immersed in the water for dissolution and farewell. The upcoming Diwali preparations will start after the Vijayadasami celebrations and the festival of lights starts twenty days after Vijayadashami.

Worshipping the Shami tree on the day of Vijayadashami holds great significance in some parts of the country as it is believed that Arjun hid his weapons inside the Shami tree during his exile. Shami Puja is also known as Banni Puja and Jammi Puja in some of the southern states in India.

Celebrations in Kerala

Vijayadashami, dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi, the deity of learning, marks the end of the annual nine-day-long Navaratri festival. The day is observed as the day of ‘Vidyarambham’ the beginning of learning.

Read Also: India celebrates Air force day 2021; know the history, significance, and some interesting facts about IAF

On this particular day, children in the state have been taken to the world of letters. Hundreds of children from different parts of the state are being educated in temples and cultural institutions on this auspicious day. Most often, this ceremony can be performed for a child between the age of two-five years. It is conducted for all children as it is believed to be a good start. On this year’s Vijayadasami day, parents are supposed to write ‘Harishree’ on kids’ tongues using gold and then on rice using fingers. Strict restrictions have been imposed this year to ensure safety in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. People are requested to hold the rituals and puja at homes in view of Covid-19 restrictions.