The splendour of Mysuru Dasara is unparalleled while the majestic Mysore Palace, the royal mansions, public buildings, gardens, water bodies and planned markets are a testimony to the vision of the Mysuru Maharajas.
Though Dasara festival is celebrated with fervour in southern part of India, Mysuru has a unique aura that goes with it.
The city has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival. The festivities were first started by the Vijayanagar kings in 15th Century. After the fall of Vijayanagar kingdom, the Wodeyars of Mysuru took charge in the year 1610 at Srirangapatna. The year 2016 marks 406 years since the first Dasara of Raja Wodeyar.
The nine- day festival is celebrated to commemorate the victory of truth over evil as it is believed that this was the day when the Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura is the demon from whose name Mysore namehas been derived.
Many religious and cultural activities atop the Chamundi Hills, a symbol of Mysore adds to all the glitter.
As part of the festivities, the Wodeyar family continues the tradition of holding private ‘durbars’ at the palace on the occasion of Dasara. The titular king of Royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar will ascend the throne and perform ‘pooja’ and holds a ‘durbar’ at the palace.
If you speak to historians, they will get you the glimpse of 26 murals that take you down the memory lane of early Dusehera celebrations. The murals not only depict the celebrations but also show how they have changed over the years.
Today, more than four centuries after the festival was popularised, it retains its traditional flavour and offers something to everyone.
Usual Dasara package includes
The hundred-year-old Mysore Palace, the centre attraction of Dasara festivities, will be illuminated with LED bulbs during the festival. As part of the celebrations, renowned musicians of Karnataka and from outside perform in front of the illuminated palace. The palace is open to the public and the royal throne is displayed.
Another major attraction is the Dasara exhibition which is held at the exhibition grounds opposite the Mysore Palace. This exhibition starts during Dasara and goes on till December.
Yuva Dasara, flower show, wrestling and many more
Another important attraction is Yuva Dasara where inter-college and inter-University cultural and fine arts competitions are held. Another main attraction during Dasara is the wrestling which attracts wrestlers from all over India. Film festival, food festival and adventure sports are also held during this time.
Vijaya Dashami procession
The D-day of the Dasara celebrations is the Vijayadashami procession held on the eleventh day. This year ”Jamboo Savari” or elephant parade will be held on October 11. The main attraction is a caparisoned Ambari elephant, ‘Arjuna’, that carries the principal deity of the Mysore city, Goddess Chamundeswari in a golden howdah weighing over 750 kg in a colourful procession.
Torch light parade
The culminating program of the Dasara festivities is the ‘Panjina Kavayatthu’ or a torch light parade that takes place in the evening followed by a massive fireworks display and much jubilation on the streets.
However, the decade- old disagreement between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over sharing of Cauvery water is casting a shadow on this year’s Dasara festivities.
After violence broke out in parts of Karnataka over Cauvery crisis, the city is in a sombre mood. The situation has forced the authorities to think on the lines of scaling down the celebrations.
With barely 15 days left for the inauguration, the mood has not really set in. Though the Dasara sub-committees were formed 15 days back, the promotional activities are yet to begin. In a recently held Dasara programme review meeting, DC Randeep asked the sub-committees to start promotional work before September 20 . “Guests’ list for the programmes must be finalised soon and any change in the schedule should be brought to the notice of the district administration and the committee,” he added.
Tourists from across the world throng Mysuru, a hub of tourist spot, during the festivities because of its places like Mysuru Palace, KRS and many other destinations. This is the time the traders from all over the district and some from Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Hubli, Udupi, Belagavi and Shivamogga make their way to the heritage citiy, but but this time, traders and hoteliers are worried that the Cauvery row is forcing large number of people to stay away the city.
Not the first time
This is not the first time that the Cauvery issue has had negative impact on Dasara. In the year 2012, similar condition had forced the authorities to scale down the festivities. Most of the hotels in Mysuru reported few bookings for obvious reasons.
With drought and farmers’ suicide playing spoilsport, the district administration conducted a low key Dasara without any fanfare.
During Dasara executive committee meeting, District In-charge Minister Dr. H C Mahadevappa had said that this year’s Dasara will be celebrated in a traditional manner instead of grand affair. “In view of scanty rains in parts of the state, the festival will be held as per tradition, though the government may not use ‘grand’ while promoting it.” District administration had also announced a theme-based approach this year with focus on water conservation in a bid to go green.
The theme makes sense in the present context but the question doing rounds is the nature of the celebrations. Some of the senior citizens who have been part of Dasara celebrations in the last two decades are visibly upset that the Naada Habba is losing its glitz and glamour.
– Deepika Narayan