Vijayadashmi, also known as Dasahara, Dusshera, Dasara, Dussehra or Dashain is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navratri (9 nights) every year. It is observed on the tenth day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin or Kartik, the sixth and seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar respectively , which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.
Dussehra is one of the major Hindu festivals. It is celebrated because Ravana, the demon king had kidnapped Sita the wife of Lord Rama and kept her in captivity. Lord Rama killed the demon king Ravana after a 9 day battle and freed his wife, Goddess Sita. Also on this very day, Goddess Durga, killed the demon Mahishasura, and therefore, the day is also celebrated as VijayDashmi.
Different parts of the country celebrate this festival in different ways. While Dussehra of kullu is very famous, Dussehra of states like Chhatisgarh, West Bengal and Tripura are also very popular too. Vijayadashami is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of India. In the southern, eastern and northeastern states of India, Vijayadashami marks the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to restore and protect dharma. In the northern and western states, the festival is synonymously called Dussehra (also spelled Dasara, Dashahara). In these regions, it marks the end of “Ramlila” and remembers God Rama’s victory over the Ravan.
Vijayadashami celebrations include processions to a river or ocean front that carry clay statues of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya, accompanied by music and chants, after which the images are immersed into the water for dissolution and a goodbye. Elsewhere, on Dasara, the towering effigies of Ravan symbolizing the evil are burnt with fireworks marking evil’s destruction. The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the a composite of two words “Vijaya” (विजय) and “Dashami” (दशमी), which respectively mean “victory” and “tenth,” connoting the festival on the tenth day celebrating the victory of good over evil.
SOURCE : WIKIPEDIA (the FREE Encyclopedia)