Dussehra, or Vijaydashmi, is an important Hindu festival where we celebrate the victory of good over evil. This is the day when God Rama defeated Ravana to rescue his wife, Sita from him. The day brings a lot of lot of joy and enthusiasm all over India. It is a religious and cultural festival which all children must know.
I remember the time when I was little and went to my Grandparents house for Dussehra and Diwali celebrations. Our elders would perform a special Dussehra Pooja in the morning, worshiping Ravana. An idol of Ravana was made using cow dung cakes, flour and some sugarcanes and radish were also used. A priest was called to perform the pooja. Then they worshiped their business log books – I remember they would write the rates of items like rice, oil, ghee, etc. on that date. The highlight of the pooja was the yummy “Charnamrit and Laddo” prasad, which was awaited by all of us. I still cherish my old memories in which the celebrations had lots of family love and togetherness.
But in today’s busy life, it is somehow not possible to perform Puja on such a grand scale. Here are few simple things that we do at home to keep the tradition alive in some way for our son to remember:
- On the first Navratra, we sow the Jhuwara seeds, water them everyday, and by 9th day, they are fully grown. We make it my Kid’s responsibility to remember to water them daily.
- We narrate the story of Ramayana to our little one everyday.
- Perform Kanchak at home – make halva, poori, chana and add some small gift or money.
- We took our son to see Ramleela this year (he is 4). I had already told him the story repetitively so that he can relate it to the act being performed on stage.
- On the day of Dussehra, make a Ravana with the help of flour on a cleaned up flour, or draw Ravana on a piece of paper. Add a sugarcane, radish, some jhuwara leaves that you have grown. I dont really know what aarti or mantra are needed to be spoken. So we just thank God for everything and for protecting us from evil. Then make some Charnamrit and Laddoos for Prasad.
- Then in the evening, we take our kiddo to see the Ravana effigy burning. Also, buy him some weapon toys for play from a hawker.
I introduced my little one to this festival at the age of 3.
We took him to see the burning of the effigy of Ravna. While there was still time, we bought him a sword and a gada (a weapon shaped like a club with spherical head) from a hawker. He was mesmerized to see the weapons and asked his dad how to use them!
He was fine initially pretty excited to see the 3 giant statues of the “monsters” (as put by him). But once the crackers started bursting, he got frightened! Thankfully our car was parked nearby and the whole scene was visible from there. So, he saw the whole program from inside the car ! I managed to shoot this beautiful pic while he was enjoying watching the crackers bursting !!
Then we headed to a special pizza treat for him. My little one enjoyed his time fully. He remembers some of the details, when I tell him some things. And we are already looking forward to our next Dussehra now.