Vijayadashami is a Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navratri every year. It is observed on the tenth day of the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September or October. The festival itself is being observed for different reasons and celebrated in different ways across the world. Durga Puja as it is called in eastern and northeastern parts of India ends with goddess Durga killing the shape-shifting, deceptive and powerful buffalo demon Mahishasura. Known as Dusshera in the northern part of India, the ten-day festival ends with Ramlila(Dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Rama according to the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana). After the enactment of the legendary war between Good and Evil, the Ramlila celebrations climax in the Dussehra night festivities where the giant grotesque effigies of Evil such as of demon Ravana are burnt, typically with fireworks. Ramlila could be seen in various performance arts in places like Bali, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand too.
In the Navaratri festival, the Goddess is worshipped in three forms. During the first three nights, Durga/Parvati is revered, then Lakshmi on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Saraswati until the ninth night. Vijayadasami celebrations include processions that carry statues of Durga/Parvati, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya, accompanied by music and chants. The festival is all about the good winning over the evil accompanied by food, plays, community gathering, recitation of scriptures, etc.,
Vijayadashami is being celebrated uniquely in the town of Virudhunagar. It usually falls in the Tamil month of Puraṭṭāsi. All the three forms of Goddess Shakti are revered in the nine nights of Navaratri. Not to forget the other forms of Shakti, deities Mariamman and Veyiluganthamman are being revered all through the year in this town. Saraswati is a Hindu Goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom, and learning. Saraswati Puja is being celebrated in many households in this town known for its excellence in education. People make their homes/automobiles spotlessly clean and decorate them with flowers and leaves. Kids keep all their notebooks and books in the puja room for Saraswati Puja so that there is no need to study and they can play all day. All the business folks would pray for their growth and enrichment by keeping their ledgers in the puja. People from different professions keep their tools in the puja; A mechanic keeps his hand tools like spanner or screwdriver, while a software engineer keeps his laptop. The puja is accompanied by offerings like puffed rice, groundnuts, fried gram, jaggery, coconuts, bananas, pears, plantain saplings, etc.,
Vijayadashami is known among the town’s residents as Magara Nonbu(மகர நோன்பு) or Mānombu(மாநோம்பு). Mānombu could have been loosely derived from Muruga + Ambu(முருகா + அம்பு) and got its name over time. There is a ritual that takes place on the morning of Vijayadashami here. It’s a belief that Goddess Parvati handed over powerful arrows to her son Muruga to destroy the evil. There is a procession of Lord Muruga which starts from the Valasubramaniar temple and reaches the Nandavanam in Madurai Road via Mela Ratha Veedhi and Agraharam. The procession idol of Lord Muruga is decorated for the occasion and rides on a horse. The arrows are ritually shot in the air to symbolize the victory over evil. This is something unique that happens here. Lord Muruga is seen riding a peacock most of the time but here in a horse. Lord Muruga is not much involved in any Vijayadashami rituals elsewhere. The procession of Lord Muruga gets back to the temple by noon. Various people carry idols as a procession and leave them in the Nandavanam. The deities from temples are taken in a grand procession to the Nandavanam where people flood in the evening to worship.
There is an extravagant display of Tamil martial arts and folk dances in the evening. Puliyāttam, Silambāttam, Karakāttam, Oyilāttam, etc., are performed in Madurai road as processions. Halloween like costume parties and playing pranks are also seen here. A variety of street food and attractions for kids are available in the Kshatriya Vidya Sala Higher Secondary School. People flock to the school in the evening and stay till night. The town is a closely-knit community and you will see a lot of people socializing and having fun. The residents are also known to make use of this festival to identify brides/grooms for their friends/families. The consecutive Tamil months of Aippasi and Kārttikai are considered auspicious for weddings.
If you are in town, skip anything you got to do; Don’t miss the Mānombu!
PC: Ajeeth Kumar