Hindu festivals have a long tradition of lifting our spirits and bringing rays of sunshine and hope back into our lives. I am not sure if they were designed in such a way, but they seem to be the perfect panacea. Dussehra is just such a festival, celebrated in September / October, the exact date is set per the lunar calendar each year. As the weather slowly changes from summer to autumn, the days start to get shorter, making the morning air chillier, and our spirits damper .
In life, we know very well, that the good guys do not always get to win. Life can quite certainly be unfair from where we stand to look at things. The “bad guys”, whoever they may be, whether the nasty mother-in-law, the credit-taking boss, or the hard-hearted teacher, get to win and we feel helpless against them.
The story behind Dussehra gives us hope that the good guys do get to win, how much ever the odds may be stacked against them. People fast for nine days, and then celebrate on the 10th day. After a long struggle of fasting, success is celebrated. Metaphorically, it is also worth noting that this is a 9:1 ratio, nine days of struggle for one night of victory. The lesson here that we need to put in a nine-fold effort to get one day’s worth of reward in reestablished. Life is not easy, maybe full of struggles, but it is certainly not unfair. It seems unfair because we give up or lose hope too soon. Watching a 10 foot tall effigy get burned reinstates this more so and gives us hope for the future.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, with people in eastern and north-eastern states of India celebrating the goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon. Durga, the warrior goddess, is depicted riding a tiger and wielding many weapons in her eight arms. In the northern, southern and western states people remember the god Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana, who had kidnapped his wife Sita.
Worshippers play music and chant before immersing the images in water. In northern, southern and western states Dussehra is celebrated by the burning huge effigies of the demon Ravana before setting off fireworks to celebrate the destruction of evil.