Legend of Shami Tree
Associated with Dussehra is the legend of Shami tree found in our epic Mahabharata. The Pandavas who were on their 14 years of exile in the forests, were to spend another year in disguise. They possessed many divine and distinctive weapons due to their skill as well as penance.
A lesser-known tradition associated with the festival relates to the Mahabharata, specifically to the one year incognito exile period the Pandavas underwent following a preceding 12 year vanvas, or forest exile, that was imposed on them. Disguise being indispensable, they found it necessary to lay aside the many divine and distinctive weapons that they possessed. They secreted these in a â€˜Shamiâ€™ tree (Prosopis spicigera) near their incognito residence.
When the year ended, they returned to the spot, found their weaponry intact, and worshiped (in thanksgiving) both the Shami tree and the Goddess Durga, presiding deity of strength and victory. Meanwhile, the Kauravas had invaded that area, suspecting the residence of the Pandavas there. Upon finishing their devotions, the Pandavas made straight to battle, and won the contest comprehensively. The day that all these events occurred on has since been known as â€œVijayadashamiâ€, where â€œVijayaâ€ is the Sanskrit word for â€œVictoryâ€. The fact of the comprehensive success of the Pandavas in their endeavour has been extrapolated to the everyday ventures of the common man today. People exchange Shami leaves and wish each other victory in their own ventures and efforts.