It’s my favorite time of the year – the nine nights of Dasara. And once again, it’s time for my annual visit to the home of the Ravindranath family.
Year after year, this sweet Iyengar family in Basavanagudi, Bangalore, puts up their remarkable exhibition of Dasara dolls. There are well over four thousand dolls in this astonishing display.
It is truly a labor of love – and faith. They spend a fortune and they make no money out of it – although there are unscrupulous dickheads who make money out of them.
Each year, there’s a special theme. And this year, the theme is the 18-day battle of Kurukshetra. Each day of the battle has been recreated in painstaking detail. They’ve done their research thoroughly. In fact, they’ve created the battle formations used by both sides, on each day of the battle. They’ve recreated the key events of the battle – like the Bhagavadgeetha, the fall of Bheeshma, Ghatotkacha’s death, Jayadratha’s decapitation by Arjuna, and several others.
Why do we celebrate Dasara? You can read about it in my blogpost, here.
Simply put, Dasara commemorates the epic battle between the goddess Durga and the demon Mahisha. The battle raged for nine nights. Each night, She took on a different form to do battle with Mahisha. On the morning of the tenth day, Durga slew Mahisha. This day therefore, is called Vijayadashami.
Vijayadashami is an especially auspicious day. On this day, Rama killed Ravana in battle. Since Rama cut off Ravana’s ten heads, the festival came to be known as Dasa Hara or Dasara.
In modern times, we do not cut off heads! Instead, Vijayadashami is considered a very good day to start any new venture, like a business project, a new course of study, music lessons, and just about any good activity.
And even at my age, I always make it a point to start something new on Vijayadashami. This year, I will start a new business venture on Vijayadashami.
Dasara is a celebration and an affirmation, of our culture and our traditions. Nowhere, and nowhere, in our traditional scriptures and our epics, does the word “Hindu” appear.
Dasara is not a “Hindu” celebration. It is Indian. That’s all.
No matter what religion you practise, enjoy Dasara. Visit a golu display. Have fun.
You can see the entire golu display of the Ravindranath family, in my Google photo album, here.
All golu displays are free and open to the public. Do not entertain self-styled “experts” and touts. Just call up the host, and go. If you want to take photographs, it’s generally ok. But as a courtesy, ask the host first. And do not forget to profusely thank the host and her family. Golu displays take a lot of effort and time.
I am an agnostic myself. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying any of our traditional festivals – including Christmas and Id!
So. Screw the “rationalists”.
Enjoy Dasara. It is your festival.
Cheers … Srini.