Mysore Dasara

A coin minted during the rule of Tipu Sultan representing the Mysore Elephant.
Mysore Dasara procession[1]

Mysore Dasara (Kannada: ಮೈಸೂರು ದಸರ) is the Nadahabba (state-festival) of the state of Karnataka. It is also called Navaratri (Nava-ratri = nine-nights) and is a 10-day festival with the last day being Vijayadashami, the most auspicious day of Dasara. Dasara usually falls in the month of September or October. According to a legend, Vijayadashami denotes the victory of truth over evil and was the day when the Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura is the demon from whose name; the name Mysore has been derived. The city of Mysore has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival and the festivities there are an elaborate affair, attracting a large audience including foreigners. The Dasara festival completed 400th anniversary in year 2010.[2]

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Festivities

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A lit up Mysore Palace, the epicenter of all Dasara festivities held in Mysore

The Dasara festivities were first started by the Vijayanagar Kings in 15th Century, after the fall of Vijayanagar Kingdom, The Wodeyar's of Mysore continued the Dasara Festival by, Raja Wodeyar I (1578-1617 CE) in the year 1610 at Srirangapatna[3]. The Mysore Palace is lit up on all the 10 days of Dasara. The festivities begin with the Wodeyar royal couple performing a special puja to Goddess Chamundeshwari in the Chamundi Temple located on the top of Chamundi Hill at Mysore. This would be followed by a special durbar (royal assembly). It was during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in the year 1805, when the king started the tradition of having a special durbar in the Mysore Palace during Dasara; which was attended by members of the royal family, special invitees, officials and the masses. This tradition has been continued even now with the current scion of the Wodeyar family, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar holding a private durbar during Dasara. The ninth day of Dasara called as Mahanavami is also an auspicious day on which the royal sword is worshipped and is taken on a procession involving elephants, camels and horses.[4]

Procession

Jamboo savari in Mysore, Karnataka
Mysore Palace in all its majesty and glory during Dasara

On Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jumboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore city. The main attraction of this procession is the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari which is placed on a golden mantapa on the top of a decorated elephant. This idol is worshipped by the royal couple and other invitees before it is taken around in the procession. Colourful tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels form a part of the procession which starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantap where the banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped. According to a legend of the Mahabharata, banni tree was used by the Pandavas to hide their arms during their one-year period of Agnatavasa (living life incognito). Before undertaking any warfare, the kings traditionally worshipped this tree to help them emerge victorious in the war[4]. The Dasara festivities would culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with an event held in the grounds at Bannimantap called as Panjina Kavayatthu (torch-light parade).

In Mysore, India Vijayadashami Elephant procession during Mysore Dasara is called as as Jumbo Savari (referred to as Jumbo Savari by the British during their control of Mysore State). The original name to this procession is Jumbi Savari (going to the Banni(Shami)tree). Now Goddess Chamundeshwari is taken in procession on an Elephant. But the "Jumbo" name is still intact.

Exhibition

Another major attraction during Dasara is the Dasara exhibition which is held in the exhibition grounds opposite to the Mysore Palace. The exhibition was started by the Maharaja of Mysore Chamaraja Wodeyar X in 1880 with the sole aim of introducing timely developments to the people of Mysore. The task of holding the exhibition is now entrusted with the Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA).[5] This exhibition starts during Dasara and goes on till December. Various stalls which sell items like clothes, plastic items, kitchenware, cosmetics and eatables are set up and they attract a significant number of people. A play area containing attractions like Ferris wheel is also present to provide entertainment to the people. Various Governmental agencies setup stalls to signify the achievements and projects that they have undertaken.

In the year 1981 Karnataka Exhibition Authority was constituted to organise the exhibition besides looking into the proposed construction of Karnataka Kalamandira, Vishwa Kannada Sammelana guest house and shopping complex. The construction of afore said buildings were completed in 1985 and were handed over to Kannada and Culture Department and PWD Department respectively following the government order on April 1,1989. The task of conducting Dasara exhibition was entrusted to Karnataka Exhibition Authority in 1987. From 1987 to 1993 the exhibition was conducted under the banner of Information, Tourism and Youth Affairs Departments, and from 1994 to 2003 under the banner of Kannada and Culture, Information and Tourism Departments.

Other programmes

On all the 10 days of Dasara, various music and dance concerts are held in auditoriums around Mysore city. Musicians and dance groups from all over India are invited to perform on this occasion. Another attraction during Dasara is the Kusti Spardhe (wrestling-bout) which attracts wrestlers from all around India 2011 Dasara celebration was inaugurated by Sri Pejavara Swamiji. It is a 9-day celebration.[6]

See also

  • Dasara (disambiguation) - uses of the term in other Indian states

References

  1. ^ http://www.mysoredasara.gov.in mysoredasara.gov.in
  2. ^ "400th Mysore Dasara begins today". The Times Of India. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-10-07/bangalore/28256260_1_jumboo-savari-dasara-elephants-theatre-festival. 
  3. ^ Detailed account of the Dasara festival celebrated at Mysore is prvided by Ravi Sharma. "Mysore Dasara: A historic festival". Online Edition of The Frontline, Volume 22 - Issue 21, dated 2005-10-08:2005-10-21. 2005, Frontline. http://www.flonnet.com/fl2221/stories/20051021005611300.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  4. ^ a b Detailed account of the Mysore Dasara festival is provided by Prabuddha Bharata. "Mysore Dasara - A Living Tradition". Webpage of eSamskriti.com. Shri Sanjeev Nayyar. Archived from the original on 2007-03-07. http://web.archive.org/web/20070307104723/http://www.esamskriti.com/html/inside.asp?cat=441&subcat=440&cname=mysodasa. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  5. ^ "All roads lead to the expo". Deccan Herald. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/114895/all-roads-lead-expo.html. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Details regarding Dasara Wrestling competition held in Mysore is provided by Shankar Bennur. "Dasara wrestling to offer ‘thunder’ bouts". Online Edition of The Deccan Herald, dated 2005-09-30. 2005, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd. http://archive.deccanherald.com/Deccanherald/Sep302005/district1752292005929.asp. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 

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