Monsoon season is about to conclude and they say the monsoons come to an end with the celebration of Dassehra. Dassehra is celebrated with great fervor and pomp throughout India. Yet, during this time of the year it is best to visit Mysore – the Palace city, because this festival is the ‘nadahabba’ (state’s festival) of Karnataka. This place displays a distinct tradition of celebrating this fiesta, an extraordinary pageant, that draws the attention of many.
Mysore, earlier named Mysuru or Mahishur, has extravagant roots spread deep into the mythical past. Legend has it that Goddess Chamundeshwari of Chamundeshwari Temple, assassinated Mahishasura- the sinful buffalo-headed demon, after a long fierce battle. It is his name from which the name Mahishur or Mysuru came into existence. While the festival of Dassehra denotes the victory of Good over Evil, the execution of Mahishasura shared the same inspiration. Hence, Dassehra aka Vijayadashmi is celebrated here with glory and gaiety.
The celebration in the city…
The grandeur of this festivals includes different cultural activities and events. The celebration continues for 10 days, beginning with the first nine days of Navaratri (the worship of Goddess Durga for nine days) with Vijayadashmi (Dasahara – ten days) at culmination.
On the first day of Navaratri, the king takes a ceremonial bath and performs various sacred rites in front of Goddess Chamundi,his family deity. He then enters the durbar and worships the throne as per the ancient rituals. He is then presented the royal sword after which the royal 21- gun salute is announced. Following this, the king attains his kingly throne and the magnificent celebration begins with music and dance performances, a parade of uniformed soldiers, etc. Local legend says that this throne is said to have been used by Vikramaditya, the famous King of ancient Ujjain.
On the day of Mahanavmi, the royal sword is worshiped paying respect to the family deity. This tradition, first started in the year 1610 by the Wodeyar King – Raja Wodeyar I, is still continued even today with the current scion of the Wodeyar family, Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar.
On the 10th day of Dassehra, before the procession begins, the royal couple worships the Divine Mother atop the Chamunda Hill in the Chamundeshwari Temple. They perform various sacred rituals with devotion and dedication. It is then the idol of the Divine Mother is taken out for the procession. This bronze idol of mother Durga in the form of Mahisasura-mardini is believed to be found in the 5th Century.
Jamboo Savari Procession
Jamboo Savari – the traditional procession is held in the Mysore city. The highlight of this event is the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, placed in a golden howdah on the top of a decorated elephant. Once the procession begins, music bands, dance groups, tableau from the history, parades performed by NCC Scots and armed forces, the royal identities, follows the magnificently decorated elephant. This event starts from the Mysore Palace and concludes at a place called ‘Bannimantap’. Here, the Banni tree is worshiped. Legend from the epic Mahabharata narrates that Banni tree was used by the Pandavas to hide their arms while they were on their exile of incognito (Agnatavasa). In the earlier days, the kings worshiped this tree before embarking any warfare, to achieve victory in the war. An event called as Panjina Kavayithu (torch-light parade) is held in Bannimantap culminating the festival.
The city of Mysore is worth visiting during Dassehra because of the self-boasting Mysuru Palace. It is a sight not to be missed when it is illuminated for the ten-days long Mysore Dassehra festival. It daily illuminates with nearly 100,000 light bulbs from 7 pm to 10 pm during the festival. To state a trivial, a whopping amount is spent towards the maintenance of its illumination alone every year, ₹10 million to be precise!
Various cultural and religious programs featuring the music, dance, and tableau of the State of Karnataka are performed in front of the illuminated Palace.
People from various parts of India come here during this period to attend the procession and events. Flower Show is organized by the Mysore Zilla at Kuppanna Park where important seminars regarding farmer’s issue and sustainable agriculture are also conducted. Dassehra Exhibition, another major attraction, is also a part of the on-going festive celebration.It takes place in the ground just opposite to the Palace that continues untill December. Eatables, cosmetics, kitchenware, plastic items, clothes etc. are sold in this exhibition. Kusti Spardhe– is one of the many attractions of the festival where wrestlers from various parts of India come and participate. Other events include Dassehra Kite Festival, Yuva Sambhrama, Sports, and many more.