With Dussehra days away, every Hindu homeowner will be busy with preparation in their homes. It’s one of India’s widely celebrated festivals. “It is probably the biggest festival after Diwali,” says homemaker Deepika Malwankar.
“The preparation for the festival starts during Navratri itself and the puja on the day of Dussehra is usually the biggest occasion,” says businessman Hasmukh Shah. The Dussehra puja generally requires a substantial amount of preparation.
Dussehra is celebrated on the last day of Navratri. It is on this day that Lord Ram killed Raavan and since it falls on the 10th day of Navratri it is also referred to as Vijay Dashami (victory day). This year, however, it is on the ninth day. According to the Hindu calendar, owing to planetary positions, two days fall on a ‘single’ day, this year.
The festival is celebrated on a large scale across the country in various cities in the open but is first celebrated by millions...within their homes.
There are few things that one is suppose to arrange for the puja. Cow-dung, chuna, roli, flowers, jowar, fruits, and food preparation like kheer, puri and sabzi. One should also keep a book which is prayed on that day, preferably the book of accounts.
After making the preliminary Om and Swastik markings with wheat-flour or sindoor, proceed to light up the agarbattis and keep all the offerings ready and in place.
With the cow-dung, make two bowls (katoris) and place coins in one of them and roli, rice, fruit and jhuwara in the other one.
Then, perform the puja. In this, one usually chants mantras and sings the Ambe Ma aarti while performing the puja and simultaneously offers flowers and prasad to the Goddess.
After the puja, if you have called over a brahmin, you are suppose to give him dakshina while the prasad is distributed among the poor. Some people also invite Brahmins in their homes and offer them food after the puja.
With the end of the puja, everyone begins their day’s celebration. While some will go to meet relatives and friends, some go off to see Ramleela, others will indulge in feasts prepared in their homes and some will go for Durga Visarjan to the nearest water body. The way of celebrating the festival is different for different people but the reason behind all of it is the same ‘victory of good over evil.’
— Prerna Pandey