In the Sanskrit, ‘Vijaya’ means victory and ‘Dashama’ means the tenth; hence the day celebrates the victory of the goddess over the forces of evil in battles that continued for ten days.
People put red tika (rice grains mixed with vermillion powder) on their forehead as a token of blood-stained Durga bestowing blessings upon them after getting rid of fiendish powers bound upon destroying life. Along with tika, ‘jamara’ (the barley seedlings) are also worn, and the acquisition of blessings from the goddess is followed by the acquisition of blessings from the elder members of the family.
The jamara worn on this day stands for rich harvest and prosperity because barley is one of the most ancient crops of the Hindus. These jamaras are ritualistically grown in the altar erected on Gatasthapana, worshipped and sprinkled with holy water every morning and evening.
Beginning on Vijaya Dashami, the to-ings and fro-ings of people between their homes and their kiths’ and kins’, wearing red tika and jamara, to receive blessings from senior relatives offers a spectacle on the countryside pathways and in urban thoroughfares as well for four days. They fast on the last full moon night of the festival and end their longest celebration of the year.