Mysuru: It is that time of the year again, when this palace city gets decked up for the annual ten-day-long celebrations, playing host to a plethora of religious and cultural events to keep up the traditions of celebrating the Dasara or Navaratri festival that began in 1610.
Celebrated as ”Nada Habba” (state festival), the festivities will be a grand affair this year depicting Karnataka’s rich culture and traditions, coupled with reminiscence of royal pomp and glory, after muted celebrations for the last two years in view of the covid-19 pandemic.
Dasara, considered to be one of the biggest and most important festivals of the region, grew as a festival of masses and the Mysuru dynasty under the royal patronage; continuing with the traditions, is now being celebrated under the auspices of the Government of Karnataka, after India became independent and republic.
President Droupadi Murmu will be inaugurating the festivities during the auspicious ”Vrushchika Lagna” between 9.45 AM and 10.05 AM on September 26, by showering flowers on the idol of goddess Chamundeshwari, the presiding deity of Mysuru royals, amid chanting of vedic hymns, at the premises of Chamundeshwari temple atop the Chamundi Hills here.
Murmu, who will be the first President to take part in Mysuru Dasara, will be accompanied by Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, and several of his cabinet colleagues among others at the inaugural.
The President is also likely to visit the Chamundeshwari temple and offer prayers to the goddess, who is referred to as ”Naada Devate” (state deity), ahead of the inaugural.
The 10-days event, like every year, is likely to showcase Karnataka’s cultural heritage resplendent with folk art forms and attracts large crowds and tourists. It was scaled down for the last two years due to the pandemic.
CM Bommai earlier announcing that the Dasara this time will be ”grand” had said, the festival will be used to promote tourism. It will be a combination of tradition, new things and will be meaningful. Various programmes will be held during these auspicious days of Navrathri, during which the palace, major streets turnarounds or circles and buildings of Mysuru will be beautified by illuminating them with lights, fondly known a ”Deepalankaara”.
In all, nearly 290 cultural programmes will be held during Dasara this year at eight venues — Amba Vilas Palace, Jaganmohan Palace, Kalamandira, Ganabharathi, Nadabrahma Sangeetha Sabha, Kirurangamandira, Chikkagadiyara and Town Hall.
Also, dozens of events that attract people like- food mela, flower show, cultural programmes, farmers’ Dasara, women’s Dasara, Yuva Dasara, children’s Dasara, poetry recital are also conducted.
However, cultural events in front of the illuminated Ambavilasa palace will be the main attraction, as it will be the main venue for performance by acclaimed artists from both state and national level. This is the very venue where the Chief Minister will confer the prestigious State Sangeetha Vidwan Award.
Other than these events, the famous Dasara procession (Jumbo Sawari), Torch Light Parade, and Mysuru Dasara Exhibition are the ones that attract a large number of people, turning the city into a carnival of sorts, during the ten day.
The Navaratri include various decorations and celebrations in households across Mysuru and surrounding areas, namely Gombe habba (arrangement of traditional dolls), Saraswati Pooja, Ayudha Pooja and Durga Pooja, among others.
While at the palace too, the royal family will celebrate the festivities as per their traditions.
The Navaratri celebrations at the palace include several rituals, most remarkably Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the scion of Mysuru royal family, dressed in grand attire, conducting Khasagi durbar (private durbar) by ascending the golden throne, amid chanting of vedic hymns.
‘Vajramushti Kalaga’, a special duel between Jetties (wrestlers) armed with a ‘Vajramushti’ or a knuckle-duster, is also part of the celebrations at the palace.
World famous ‘Jambusavaari’, a procession of caparisoned elephants carrying the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwai in a golden Howdah on Vijayadashmi on the 10th day of the festival, marks the culmination of celebrations on October 5.
The procession will start from the Amba Vilas Palace premises, after the Nandi Flag Puja at the auspicious Makara Lagna from 2.36 pm to 2.50 pm and offering floral showers on Chamundeshwari placed in a golden Howdah by the Chief Minister and other dignitaries on October 5. It will end at Banni mantapa, after covering a distance of roughly 6-km.
Tableaus of different districts and cultural teams from across the state will add splendour to the procession.
Elephants, which were brought from their camps, are prepared for the procession by making them walk along the streets of the city, so that they get used to the crowd, and are also put to firecrackers and cannon tests to ensure that they don’t get disturbed by the sound. Elephant named ‘Abhimanyu’, who has been carrying the golden howdah since 2020, is likely to perform the duty this year too.
For the last two years, the procession was restricted to the Amba Vilas Palace premises, due to covid-19.
Dasara was celebrated by the rulers of the Vijayanagar empire and the tradition was inherited by the Wadiyars of Mysuru.
Festivities were first started in Mysuru by the Wadiyar King, Raja Wadiyar I in the year 1610. It became a private affair of the royal family following the abolition of the privy purse in 1971 and the discontinuation of the privileges of the erstwhile rulers.
However, a low-key Dasara used to be held on the initiative of the local people until the state government stepped in and the then Chief Minister D Devaraja Urs revived the Dasara celebrations in 1975, which is being followed till date.
Tourism and hotel industry of Mysuru is hoping for a revival in business this year, after two years of lull due to covid-19.
”All the preparations are on for the Dasara to be a grand success this year… Preparations are on for the President’s visit too and elaborate security arrangements have been put in place,” Mysuru District in-charge Minister S T Somashekar said.