Mysuru, or Mahishur as it was called in the past, traces its history back to the mythical past, when Goddess Chamundeshwari of Chamundi Hill, killed the wicked buffalo-headed demon, Mahishasura. This event that marked the victory of Good over Evil is the inspiration behind the Dasara festivities. Mysuru’s most famous festival is the 10 day Dasara, generally in October, when the entire city gets itself up to celebrations that include a majestic procession, dance, music, varieties of cultural activities and a torch light parade. The Cauvery dispute may however dampen the celebrations.
The theme of this year’s Dasara is Water Conservation. The Mysuru District Administration is proactively engaged itself in water conservation. Under the jurisdiction of Mysuru City with the help of many C.S.R (Corporate social responsibility) projects, 27 tanks have been identified for water conservation. In order to promote sustainable water usage, Jalkranthi Abhiyan is being celebrated in association with all the departments. Low watershed areas are being identified under this project in order to increase water level at such places.
Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped. The 10th day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami. 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 Mysuru has been derived. The city of Mysuru has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival and the festivities here are an elaborate affair and attract a large audience from all over the world.
Festivities were first started by the Wodeyar King, Raja Wodeyar I (1578-1617 CE) in the year 1610. The Mysuru 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 Mysuru. 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 Mysuru 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, Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar 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.
This year’s events:
*Torch Light Parade on Oct – 11th, Venue at the Bannimantap Grounds; The Torch Light Parade includes Shwetahswa team, tent pegging, laser show and other cultural programmes
*Mysore Dasara Procession Jamboo Savarion Oct – 11th Nandi Dhwaja Pooja will take place, which marks the start of Mysore Dasara Procession. Multiple teams of artists from all over the state are going to be a part of it.
*Yuva Dasara from Oct 2nd – 9th at the Maharaja Grounds – Yuva Dasara is yet another major attraction of Mysuru Dasara celebrations. Being one of the most anticipated part of the festivities, Yuva Dasara, as the name might itself suggest, is a grand show of energy & dynamism that symbolize today’s youth. Many popular celebrities come together & share the stage with some young talents to put on a show that will you enthralled!
*Dasara Wrestling from Oct 5th – 6th at the D. Devraja Urs Multipurpose Stadium. Dasara Wrestling is one of the highly reputed & popular wrestling tournaments that happen across the country. Professional wrestlers from all over India converge here to compete for the top spot.
Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar to lead the celebrations
Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar is the 27th and present titular Maharaja of Mysuru and head of the former ruling Wadiyar dynasty. Following the sad demise of the previous Maharaja of Mysuru, Yaduveer Gopal Raj Urs was adopted as the natural son of Sri Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar and Smt Pramoda Devi Wadiyar and he was formally renamed Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar. He will be performing all the religious ceremonies and rituals as per the tradition during this year’s Dasara festivities.
On Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jamboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysuru city. The main attraction of this procession is the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari which is placed in a golden howdah 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, armed forces, folklores, the royal identities, decorated elephants, horses and camels form a part of the procession which starts from the Mysuru Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantap, where the Banni tree (Prosopisspicigera) 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. The Dasara festivities would culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with an event held in the grounds at Bannimantap called as Panjina Kavayithu (torch-light parade).
Another major attraction during Dasara is the Dasara exhibition which is held in the exhibition grounds opposite to the Mysuru Palace. 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 amount of people. A Game 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.
What’s New this year
Palace on Wheels
Mysuru is also known as the City of Palaces and rightly so. Apart from the iconic Mysore Palace (Amba Vilas Palace), some of the other famous palaces of Mysuru are the Jaganmohan Palace, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Jayalakshmi Vilas Palace etc. To make it convenient for people to visit all these major landmarks, the Government of Karnataka, in association with K.S.R.T.C & K.S.T.D.C is introducing Palace On Wheels – a special & exclusive bus tour that takes people to all the famous palaces of Mysuru, along with other facilities.
Torch Light Parade on Giant Screens
The Torch Light Parade is the last major event of every year’s Mysuru Dasara celebrations. Thousands of people watch the ceremony and enjoy the various performances. However, owing to the limited seating capacity of the Bannimantap Grounds, thousands more miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the electrifying stadium atmosphere. Thus, the Mysuru District Administration has decided to showcase the much sought after Torch Light Parade event live on giant screens at the Chamundi Vihar Stadium. Entry is free!
Think you have seen the Mysore Palace from all directions & all possible angles? Well, think again! During this year’s Dasara festivities, people can enjoy a completely breathtaking aerial view of Mysuru courtesy the Hot Air Balloon Rides / Helicopter Rides. Rise up to the skies and enjoy this unique Mysuru experience that you will remember for a lifetime!
Wi-Fi Hotspots spread across Mysuru
Internet has become a highly integral part of people’s routines nowadays. In view of the same, the District Administration has decided to install several Wi-Fi hotspots that are spread all across Mysuru city, to make it convenient for the people to stay connected, while on the move!
Mysuru Dasara 2016 Souvenirs
Visitors and tourists coming to Mysuru to witness the pompous Dasara celebrations this year, can take back the wonderful memories in the form of a souvenir. In an attempt to promote the skilled craftsmanship of local artists, the Mysuru District Administration has decided to come up with an Official Mysuru Dasara Souvenir. This year’s Dasara logo will be crafted into a grand souvenir of different sizes.
(This article was published in the recent issue of Karnataka Today Magazine)