The Telugu people are very fond of celebrating various festivals of religious importance and as well as festivals of social importance. The people of Andhra Pradesh celebrate all the festivals with high spirits and with much enthusiasm. Festivals like Ugaadi which marks the beginning of a new year for the Telugu people are of great importance with special significance when the preparation and consumption of a special kind of dish called Ugaadi Pachchadi is customary. The Telugu people are real lovers of festivals and show much of their involvement in all the festivals irrespective of the importance of the festival.
Mythological significance of Dussehra
I am sure you all know might be very well aware of the mythological significance of the festival. According to Devi Puranam, the nine nights of Dussehra marks the fierce war between Goddess Durga Devi and the buffalo-headed demon called Mahishasura and on the Vijaya Dasami day this powerful asura was beheaded by Goddess Durga Devi and thus the festival signifies the victory of the Good over the Bad. Besides this mythology, the other legend in connection with this festival is that it is believed that it is on the Vijaya Dasami day Lord Raama defeated Raavana - the King of Lanka after a long struggle and finally killed him.
And the other legend which is connected to Vijaya Dasami day is that on this day the Pandava Prince Arjuna who was until then under the disguise of Brihannala took out his armor which he kept in hiding on one of the branches of a Sami tree for attacking the mighty Kauravas who happen to attack the Kingdom of Viraat under whose shelter the Pandavaas were spending their one year secrecy of their exile period.
Hence, Dussehra Dasami has great religious significance and Dussehra - the Hindu festival of victory symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
How is Dussehra celebrated throughout the state of Andhra Pradesh
As any other festival, Dussehra too is celebrated with much fervor and enthusiasm by the people of Andhra Pradesh. Nearly a month in advance almost all the textile shops / showrooms offer heavy discounts on textiles and keep luring the customers with gifts as well. And almost all the educational institutions remain closed for the entire week of Dussehra festival and because of these holidays children too take active part in the festival and enjoy it with full spirits. The most important events during the festival are:
In most of the community centers, beautiful and colorful idols of Goddess Durga Devi are installed and worshiped for nine nights during the festival period. And generally these idols are in the form of
Mahishasura Mardini that means in the posture of beheading the buffalo-headed demon.
Almost in the entire state all the people are involved in worshiping Goddess Durga Devi for nine nights in nine different forms or avatars
During Dussehra Navaratri time the women folk, in particular the married women are involved in Lalita Sahasranaama Paarayana and Kumkumaarchana pooja and this is performed for a happy married life and for the welfare of the husband.
Almost in the entire state, this Aayudha Pooja is done to all the vehicles and heavy machinery in the industries or factories and even in the households people perform aayudha pooja to the small and big electronic items and other such items. However, decorating the vehicles with flowers, plantain trees, mango leaves and colorful glitter ribbons is very common in the state.
Dussehra celebrations in the temples
The auspicious festival of Dussehra is celebrated with much devotion in various temples across the state, in particular in the Ammavaaru temples or the temple of Goddesses by decorating the goddesses in a different avataar on each day of the Dussehra Navaratri. At the same time the Ammavaaru in the temples is beautifully decorated with colorful flowers and with a smile on her face. Almost all the temples across the state are heavily crowded with devotees. But the temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala and the temple of Kanaka Durga Ammavaaru at Vijayawada have special attractions during the Dussehra Navaratri
Sreevari Brahmotsavaalu at Tirumala during Dussehra
Tirumala - the abode of Lord Venkateswara is too heavily crowded with devotees from all corners of the country during the Dussehra Navaratri time as they come to have a glimpse of the grand celebrations of Sreevari Brahmotsavaalu and thus get the blessing of the Lord during these auspicious days of the year. Sreevari Brahmotsavaalu start on the second day after Amavasya and ends on the Vijaya Dasami day with the chakra snaanam which culminates the utsavaalu. Each night the Utsava Vigrahaalu (idols used for the purpose of festival celebrations) of the Lord are beautifully decorated with a particular decoration and vaahanam or vehicle to be adorned by Sreevaaru. The names of some of the vaahanams are:
These are taken in a grand procession along the Maada Vidhulu or the four main roads surrounding the main temple. These grand celebrations of Sreevari Brahmotsavaalu at Tirumala are worth watching and it really awakes the devotional feelings in the devotees mind and heart who are completely loss in some other world.
Dussehra celebrations in Kanaka Durga temple at Vijayawada
The famous Kanaka Durga temple on the Indrakeeladri hill in Vijayawada too attracts large crowd during the Dussehra Navaratri period as most of the devotees who are under Bhavani Deeksha or an oath taken in the name of the Goddess visit this temple for Deeksha Viramana or to fulfill the oath. Generally the Bhavanis wear either red or green costumes throughout their deeksha period. And the goddess Kanaka Durga ammavaaru shines with extra ordinary beauty with an ever-smiling face and with a peaceful look in her eyes who always blesses her children. On the culminating day the goddess is taken for a Swan-boat ride called the Hamsa Vaahanam on river Krishna.