The annual Hindu festival of Dussehra, or Vijayadashami as it's alternatively known, symbolizing the victory of good over evil, began Thursday. Dussehra is celebrated on the 10th day of the month known as Ashwin in the Hindu calendar, which traditionally corresponds to September or October of the Gregorian calendar. The first nine days are celebrated during what's known as Maha Navratri, meaning ninth night, and culminate on the tenth day when Dussehra begins.
In the predominately Hindu countries of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the day will be celebrated as people visit each other's homes and exchange sweets and gifts. In some of the countries where the festival is celebrated it comes at the same time as the harvest as it often eaten with seasonal foods that grow this time of year. It celebrates Lord Rama's victory over the 10-headed demon king Ravana and the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur, as per Hindu religion.
Dussehra is derived from the Sanskrit word "Ahaha" which means day, while the alternative term Vijayadashami comes from the Sanskrit words "Vijaya-dashami" literally meaning the victory on the dashami (Dashmi is the 10th lunar day of the Hindu calendar month). The festival of lights Diwali is celebrated twenty days after Dussehra.
A mark made from red paste, known as a Tilaka, is worn on the forehead and sometimes other parts of the body. Tilaka may be worn on a daily basis or for special religious occasions, depending on different customs. Many Hindus also believe that it is lucky to start a new project, venture or journey during Dussehra.
Post offices, government offices and banks are closed in India on Dussehra, according to an Indian website dedicated to Hindu festivals. Convenience stores, other businesses and organizations may be closed or have reduced opening hours. Anyone wishing to use public transport on the day may need to contact the local transport authorities to check on timetables.
In 2016, Dussehra will fall Oct. 11.