Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Today is Vijayadashami, the culmination of a 10-day Hindu festival called Dassehra.

The festival's name is also spelled Dasara and Dussera, and is also called Navaratri. In southern India, the festival commemorates the victory of the Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura near Mysore (For more details, see Wikipedia's entry).

On the eve of the day, we held a ceremony -- called puja -- at my office. An ad hoc mini-temple was set up in the lobby. Bedecked with flowers, it contained a picture depicting Ganesha and two other gods. A friend from New York said the temple's canopy reminded her of the canopy, or chuppah, erected for Jewish weddings.

On the floor were chalk inscriptions.

As at other Hindu temples, a priest came round with a tray with a flame on it. You put your hand over the flame, touch your warm hand to your forehead and then put a dot of colored powder on your forehead. You leave a little money on the tray (like collection in church).

I'm sure this ceremony is commonplace in many offices in India. But it was a first for me. And very special.

On the streets going home, I noticed that some cars had plants tied to their front bumpers (Readers: what does this signify?).

Vijayadashami is also a work holiday in southern India. So, I'm taking the day off.

Happy Dassehra


At 5:11 AM, Blogger BangaloreGuy said...

The day before Vijaya Dashami* is called Ayudha Pooja. Ayudha literally meaning weapon, but here meaning mostly tools in usage.

So industries worship their machinery, and most households their vehicles (which are their biggest machinery!) or even bullock/other carts - if they happen to own one!

So that is why you would see most vehicles decked up.

btw, what is usually tied are baby plantains, and of course with liberal sprinkling of Gandha(Sandlewood + Water extract), Arshina(Turmeric) and Kunkuma(vermilion).
Not to mention flowers.

* it signifies victory of good over evil, of Goddess Durga over Mahisasura - after whom Mysore is named)

At 7:39 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

That is really interesting, especially the bit about where Mysore got its name. Thanks for adding to my knowledge.

At 12:33 AM, Blogger sou said...

"On the floor were chalk inscriptions." :) its called a "Rangoli" or "Kollam."

Did some R&D and this is what i found on one site - 'Kolams' (Rangoli) generally drawn with rice flour are special to the occasion. The idea behind using rice flour is that the insects would feed on it and bless the household.


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