It is celebrated on the tenth day of the Hindu autumn lunar month of Ashvin or Ashwayuja which falls in September or October of the Western calendar, from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada, or the day after the new moon which falls in Bhadrapada, to the Dashami, or the tenth day of Ashvin. It is the culmination of the 10-day annual Navaratri (Sanskrit – ‘nine nights’) festival. It is the largest festival in Nepal, and celebrated by both Hindu and non-Hindu Nepalis.
Dussehra roots back to the Hindu epic Ramayana where Lord Rama the eight of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu killed Ravana the ten headed demon in Lanka. Ravana had abducted Lord Rama’s wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama along with his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle and rescued Sita. On his way to Lanka Rama performed Chandi Pooja to Goddess Durga who gave some secret knowledge to kill Ravana. To commemorate the victory of Rama over Ravana we celebrate Dussehra. During the tenth day of Dussehra effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbakarna and son Meghanad are erected and burnt at sunset to symbolize victory of good over evil.
Related, Happy Dussehra 2018
Another legend gets connected to Goddess Durga who was created to slay the demon Mahishasur who grew very powerful and created havoc on earth. Durga was given special weapons by the gods and she fought Mahishasur for nine days and night. Manishasur got killed on the tenth day of the battle. This victory over evil is celebrated as Dussehra in many parts of the country.
According to another legend Kautsa, the young son of the Brahmin devdatta was asked to offer 140 million gold coins as dakshina to his guru Rishi Varatantu. The student approached the generous king Raghu who in turn asked Kuber , the God of wealth to create a rain of gold coins near the apati and shanu trees. After giving the guru Kautsa distributed the rest of the coins to the needy on the day of Dussehra. In remembrance people loot the leaves of apati trees and present to each other as gold.
The Pandavas during exile for 14 years hid their weapons in a hole in a Shami tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the final year of Agnyatwas. After that year, on Vijayadashmi they recovered the weapons, declared their true identities and defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle. Since that day, Shami trees and weapons have been worshipped and the exchange of Shami leaves on Vijayadashmi has been a symbol of good will and victory.
People throughout the country celebrate Dussehra puja with grandeur and splendor and each region celebrates this occasion in their own special way. Public processions, feasting and bursting crackers are an important feature of the celebrations. Dussehra festival many parts of the country colorful fares and exhibitions are also organized on this occasion. This is a way to remind people of the fact that truth always triumphs and motivate them to follow the path of ‘dharma’.