Significance of Dasara
The Navaratri festival is a festival of thanks giving and gratitude of (a) the gift of knowledge from Goddess Saraswathi, (b) the gift of basic necessities from Goddess Lakshmi, (c) the protection from evil forces within and without, the former manifesting as Kama (desires), (2) Krodha (anger), (3) Lobha (greed), (4) Moha (delusion, attachment), (5) Mada (pride) and (6) Matsarya (malice). These demons have to be overpowered and transmuted by Divine Shakti.
The Navaratri festival commemorates the Victory of God over Evil. Navratri is one of the popular festival which is celebrated all over India through in different forms.
In many parts, it is known as Durga Puja, Goddess Durga is worshipped in her warrior form who killed the demon Mahishasura to save the people from destruction.
Navaratri is one of the popular festivals which begins on the first day in the bright fortnight of Ashvina. This festival is probably the only one among Hindus that is celebrated for such a long time. It is called Navaratri because it is celebrated for nine nights. There is great significance in celebrating the festival for nine days. For the first three days Kali, is worshipped, next three days worship of Lakshmi and the last three days worship of Saraswathi is done.
Kali is the destroyer of evil. Hence the worship of Kali is for the destruction of evil gunas in man.
Lakshmi enhances the wealth of Guna Sampati, that is good and constructive thoughts which can develop one when the bad qualities of the heart are conquered. So Lakshmi is worshipped to increase the wealth of good qualities in man.
When once the bad qualities vanish and good qualities flow in, only then is it possible to grasp and acquire knowledge. Saraswathi is the Goddess of Gnana or knowledge which purifies the intellect and leads man on the path of wisdom.
Hence the worship of Saraswathi for the last three days for the emancipation from a lower to higher life. Shri Ramachandra Himself worshipped the Goddess Durga, personification of the energy principle, for nine nights to gain power to destroy the demon Ravana. There is also a reference that girls between the ages of 3 and 10 are fed and clothed and duly worshipped during the Navaratri days.
In the North, Dasara is celebrated by staging Ram Leelas depicting various episodes from Ramayana. The particular episode of the struggle between Rama and Ravana is shown compulsorily. The victory over the demons is celebrated on the 10th day which is also called the Vijaya Dashami. Effigies of Ravana are erected and burnt on this day.
In the South, dolls display is arranged for 10days and all women folk from the town and the locality are invited.
The last day is also the Ayudha Puja day. On this day Puja is performed to the tools and implements by workers who earn their living by means of them. The carpenter, the mason etc., believe that the Goddess will bless them with more efficiency and good luck after they invoke her blessing on the Ayudha Puja day.
It is during the Dasara festivities that Bhagawan organises the Veda Purusha Sapthaha Jnana Maha Yagnam for 7 days, concluding on the Vijaya Dashami Day, for the welfare of the entire Cosmos.
It is also during this period that Bhagawan sends His Students to the villages around Puttaparthi on a Grama Seva, serving the villagers with the Holy Prasadam of food and clothing at their door step.