It was Matali – the valiant Lord Rama’s charioteer, who reminded him of his ability to overthrow and kill Ravana. Rama then raised in his hands the blazing arrow that looked like a hissing serpent. It was a sacred arrow given by Brahma to him and in turn was given to Brahma by the glorious sage, Agastya.
Looking at Rama’s continuing and aggravating struggle to kill Ravana Matali said –
Visrijaasmai vadhaaya tvamastram paitaamaham prabho |
Vinaashakaalah kathito yah suraih soadya vartate || 6-108-2
“O Righteous Lord Rama! You can now use this divine missile presided over by none other than Brahma, the Lord of all creation. It is time for his destruction as expressed by all celestials”.
Sa vajra iva durdharsho vajribaahuvisarjitah |
Kritaanta iva chaavaaryo nyapatadraavanorasi || 6-108-17
“The sacred arrow released from Rama’s bow, which was as destructible as a thunderbolt hurled by Indra and as irresistible as a death blow by Yama – the Lord of Death, fell upon Ravana’s chest, taking his life in an instant.”
It was the day when the evil was defeated. When the good overcame the bad and Lord Rama was reunited with his wife after killing Dashaavtaar – Ravana.
From then on, this day is celebrated as ‘Vijayadashmi’ each year by Hindus all over the globe. The auspicious day falls on the 10th day of bright half of lunar moon in Ashwin month as per Hindu calendar, and falls a day after Navratri is over. The festival is also called Dussera, a translation of which is ‘Dus’ meaning Ravana having ten heads and ‘Hara’ meaning defeat.
Hindus celebrate this festival with zeal and unbound enthusiasm as the day is a symbol of their faith in goodness, prosperity and beginning of good times ahead. The festivities are carried out across India, albeit differently. In North and Western regions, depiction of Ram Leela to narrate the valour of Rama by citing the scripture of holy Ramayana and symbolic burning of Ravana’s idol in the end organised by local communities is a common sight on Dussera. Delicacies like Jalebi and Fafdas are enjoyed in Western states making the celebrations sweeter.
The festival is also considered very auspicious in southern states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as it signifies new beginnings for children interested in eductaion, music and dance. Families also perform puja in the house and workplaces for fresh start.
Dussera also gets mentioned in Mahabharata. During their exile, the five Pandavas had hid their specialised weapon in a Shami tree, which they worshipped to extract their weapons on this day before going on an epic war.
On Dussera, apart from citing Ramayana, temples and communities perform Shami Puja, Aparijita Puja and Seema Avalanghan as per Aparaha Muhurat. The day is also auspicious to venture into new endeavours – be it starting new business, buying new car, a new home or buying precious things like gold and jewellery. People also exchange gifts and some exchange leaves from Shami tree for good luck. Young family members seek blessings from elders for good fortune and prosperity ahead to begin the celebrations with complete devotion, assurance and zest.