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Durga Puja


In India Dussehra is also called Vijaya Dasahmi . This festival is observed for 10 days. The Durga Puja is celebrated in two different ways in Odisha. In Shakti peethas (temples of goddess) the Durga Puja is observed with proper rituals for 10 to 16 days known as Shodasa Upachara/Shohala dinatmaka,which starts from 7 days earlier to mahalaya called as mulastami and ends on Vijayadashami, dussehra. Goddess Durga is also worshiped by devotees in different pandals in form deities across the state. The pandals are decorated with beautiful decoratives. 

The name Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit term Dasha-hara literally means removal of ten referring to Lord Ram's victory over the ten-headed demon king Ravan. The day also marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demons Mahishasura. The name Vijayadashami is also derived from the Sanskrit words "Vijaya-Dashmi" literally meaning the victory on the tenth lunar day of the Hindu calender . There are many legends behind the festival of dussehra . Some of the demons, were very powerful and ambitious and continually tried to defeat the Devas, or Gods, and capture Heaven. One Asura, Mahishasura, in the form of a buffalo, grew very powerful and created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership, the Asuras defeated the Devas. The world was crushed under Mahishasura's tyranny, the Devas joined their energies into Shakti, a single mass of incandescent energy, to kill Mahishasura. A very powerful band of lightning emerged from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and a young, beautiful female virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her. This Shakti coalesced to form the goddess Durga. Riding on a lion, who assisted her, Durga fought Mahishasura. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashvin shukla paksha, Mahishasura was defeated and killed by Durga. Hence, Dasha-Hara is also known as Navratri or Durgotsav and is a celebration of Durga's victory. 

Another such legend is also present. On this day in the Treta Yug, Rama, also called Shri Ram, the seventh avatara of Vishnu, killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Laxmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue Sita. The entire narrative is recorded in the epic ramayana, a Hindu scripture.Rama had performed "Chandi Homa" and invoked the blessings of Durga, who blessed Rama with secret knowledge of the way to kill Ravana. On the day of Ashvin Shukla Dashami, Rama's party found Sita and defeated Ravana. Thus it is termed as Vijaya Dashami. Many people perform "Aditya Homa" as a "Shanti Yagna" and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for 5 days. These Yagna performances are thought to make household environment clean and healthy. These rituals are intended to rid the household of the ten bad qualities, which are represented by 10 Heads of Ravana as follows: 
1. Kama vasana (Lust) 
2. Krodha (Anger) 
3. Moha (Delusion) 
4. Lobha (Greed) 
5. Mada (Over Pride) 
6. Matsara (Jealousy) 
7. Manas (Mind) 
8. Buddhi (Intellect) 
9. Chitta (Will) 
10. Ahankara (Ego). 

There is also another legend . According to that ,in the age of Dvapara Yuga, Pandavas the five acknowledged sons of Pandu , by his two wives Kunti and Madri - lost to Kauravas in a game of dice, and both spent twelve years of Vanawas, or exile to the forest, followed by one year of Agnyatawas. The brothers hid their weapons in a hole in a Shami tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the final year of Agnyatawas. After that year, on Vijayadashmi, they recovered the weapons, declared their true identities and defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle. Since that day, Shami trees and weapons have been worshipped and the exchange of Shami leaves on Vijayadashmi has been a symbol of good will and victory. This is also called Shami/Jammi Puja . 

The Durga Puja festivities are also prominent in Maa Katak Chandi Temple. Maa Cuttack Chandi is the presiding deity of Cuttack. The goddess popularly called as Maa Katak Chandi, sits and rules on the heart of the ancient city. She is worshiped as Bhuvaneswari. Maa Chandi is worshipped in various incarnations of Durga during the puja. In Cuttack, people strongly believe Maa Katak Chandi as The Living Goddess . The largest Pujas are held in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Rourkela. Shaheed Nagar, Nayapalli and Rasulgarh spend the most on the idols, decorations, lighting, and other elements. One reason for the wide acceptance of Durga Puja is the importance of Maa Tarini, who is considered one of the embodiments of Shakti in Odia culture. In addition, the state is close to Bengal and the peoples share a common socio-cultural history spanning millennia. Odisha is home to many important shrines dedicated to the Goddess; great festivities are organized there on Durga and Kali Puja. It is thus one of the prime festivals of Odisha as well. People in Odisha celebrate it on a large scale. The Goddess Durga is among the sacred goddesses of Odisha. The celebrations are quite similar to the neighbouring state of West Bengal.

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