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Vijayadazaami (विजयादशमी)

Hindi. ‘Victorious tenth’. The climax of the ancient Indian festival of Navaratri (Dushera) that extends nine nights and ten days. ‘Victorious tenth’ refers to this tenth day on which the triumph of Good over Evil is celebrated, commemorating the victory of Rama over Ravana and the defeat of the demon Mahishasura by Chamunda, a form of Durga. On this last day of this event a grand chariot procession is held through the streets accompanied by brahman priests. People erect alters with Indian deities, often adorned with Aum signs made with flowers, lemons and lemon garlands called puang manao (fig.) are displayed everywhere, coconuts are piled up and coconut candles (fig.) are lit, and in front of the altars the street is strewn with, mainly yellow and red, torn flowers without the stems and petals. Since coconuts are fruits that grow in midair they represent frigidity, and their juice is seen as immaculate, thus they are lined up in piles along the street to provide an immaculate path for the gods when the procession passes by. Lemons are a medium or go-between of the gods, used to eradicate ominous spirits or ghosts and bad things. Spiritualist mediums can be seen dancing in the street, whilst others are in trance and go from altar to altar, blessing them by scattering powder (fig.), and people visiting may receive a red tilaka (fig.). It coincides with the end of the Thai-Chinese nine-day Vegetarian Festival (Thetsakahn Kin Jae) to which it bears many resemblances, e.g. both have the same duration, both observe vegetarianism, both have a goddess procession on the last day, both make small altars (fig.) and both feature spiritualist mediums chastising themselves whilst in a trance (fig.). It is celebrated exuberantly in the vicinity of Bangkok’.s Wat Phra Sri Maha Uma Devi on Silom Road. Typical offers and attributes during the festival are: lemons, used to eradicate ominous spirits and ghosts, as well as bad things; coconuts, midair fruits representing frigidity and containing unadulterated juice which are seen as immaculate and piled up along the street to provide a pure path for the gods when the chariot procession passes by; gluay naam wah (kind of banana), a symbol of fertility; sugarcane, representing refreshing sweetness and thriving growth; and kaanboon (camphor), which symbolizes consciousness and is burned to bring about purity as it burns without leaving an ash residue. When the procession is over followers return to the temple where a lion flag is raised on the pole in front of the main bot, i.e. the main temple hall. The final conclusion however, is about three days later when followers gather at the temple once again to sprinkle water on the image of Brahma and wind it with a dai mongkon sih daeng (ด้ายมงคลสีแดง), a ‘red auspicious string’, akin to the sai sin and mongkonlasut, white auspicious strings used in Buddhism. Throughout the festival the colours yellow and red are prevalent. This is reminiscent to the Vegetarian Festival, where yellow and red banners in restaurants indicate the availability of vegetarian food (fig.). In Hinduism, red is sometimes described to symbolize the activity in the world and yellow to symbolize purity, peace and truthfulness. According to the Thai system of sih prajam wan, in which each day of the week corresponds with a certain colour, red stands for Sunday and yellow for Monday, it could perhaps also refer to the ten days (or suns) and nine nights (or moons) of the festival. Besides this, these colours closely resemble those of the flag of Hinduism in Thailand. Sometimes transcribed Vijayadashami and in Thai referred to as Vichaithasami (วิชัยทัสมิ).