Mysore Dasara is the Nadahabba of India’s state of Karnataka. It’s a ten-day festivity that begins with Navaratri and ends with Vijayadashami. The Hindu carnivals of Dasara, Navratri, and Vijayadashami commemorate the triumph of good over wrong. It was the day in Hindu tales when Goddess Chamundeshwari slew the demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura is the monster whose rubout by the Goddess gave the megacity the name Mysuru.

During this event, the Mysuru tradition honors the dogfaces and the state fighting for the good by ritually worshipping and flaunting the state brand, munitions, mammoths, nags, and the Hindu Devi goddess in her legionnaire form( generally) and the Vishnu icon Rama. The king of Mysuru customarily presides over the events and a large procession.

The megacity of Mysuru has a long tradition of commemorating the Dasara jubilee with majesty and splendor. In 2019, the Dasara festivity in Mysuru celebrated its 409th time; still, substantiation shows that the fests were first observed in Karnataka state by the Vijayanagara Empire monarchs in the 15th century.

Dasara festival began with the Vijayanagar monarchs in the 14th and 15th centuries. The event played literal significance in the 14th- century Vijayanagara Empire, known as Mahanavami. There was known as Mahanavami, and the fests are shown in relief artwork on the surface wall of Hampi’s Hazara Rama tabernacle. Durga was recognized as the legionnaire goddess during the form. Athletic events, singing and dancing, fireworks, a noble military march, and public charitable donations were all part of the fests.

The metamorphosis of Mysuru during Dasara

During Dasara, the entire city comes to life with various festivities. Unoccupied locations are brought back to life during the festivities, and a cultural revolution occurs. A special durbar was part of the fests (royal assembly). During the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in 1805, the monarch established the practice of holding a special durbar in the Mysore Palace during Dasara, which is attended by members of the royal family, unique companies, officers, and the general public.

After Srikanta Wadiyar’s death in December 2013, this tradition was carried on by placing the “Pattada Katti” (royal brand) on the golden throne. The ninth day of Dasara, known as Mahanavami, is also an auspicious day on which the royal brand is worshipped and carried in a procession involving mammoths, camels, and nags. On this day, everything comes to life; on other days, the golden throne is kept inside, and only the darbar hall is seen.

The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet1
The View of Mysore palace on normal days  _©Star of Mysore.
The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet2
The illumination of Mysore palace  _©Star of Mysore.

The prominent point of the ten-day Mysore Dasara festivity is the Mysore Palace, which is illuminated daily with 10,000 light bulbs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on all jubilee days. In front of the lit Palace, colorful artistic and religious shows featuring Karnataka’s cotillion, music, and culture are performed.

Tangible and Intangible Aspects 

The traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jumboo Savari) is held on the thoroughfares of Mysore on Vijayadashami. The central point of this procession is the statue of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, carried on top of a decked giant on a golden mantapa( 750 kg of gold). The royal couple and other guests worship this hero before it’s carried around in the procession. The whole route of the procession is decorated and lit.

The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet3
The statue of the Goddess Chamundeshwari carried on top of a decked giant on a golden mantapa _©Star of Mysore.

The procession includes various tableaux, cotillion groups, music bands, decked mammoths, nags, and camels that begin at the Mysore Palace and end at Bannimantap, where the banni tree is revered. According to a Mahabharata tale, the Pandavas employed the banni tree to hide their munitions during their one-time Agnatavasa period (living life incognito). Before engaging in combat, monarchs have historically worshipped this tree to crop victorious.

The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet4
The Festivities inside the Mysore Palace  _©Star of Mysore.

The Dasara festival would conclude on the night of Vijayadashami with a Panjina Kavayatthu form offered on the grounds of Bannimantap (arsonist- light cortege ). The Vijayadashami Elephant cortege at Mysore Dasara is known as Goliath Savari in Mysore, India (from the British during their control of Mysore State). This procession was initially known as Jumbi Savari, which means “going to the Shami (Banni) tree.” Goddess Chamundeshwari is now being carried in procession atop an Elephant. Still, the “Goliath” moniker remains.

The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet5
The illumination of the dasara route night view  _©Somika vishwas.
The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet6
The view of the same circle during normal days _©Times of India.
The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet7
The illumination of road _©faizan Shariff.

Following the Jamboo Savari, an arsonist-light procession is held in the Bannimantap Parade Grounds in the evening. Another essential magnet during Dasara is the Dasara exposition, which is hosted on the exhibition grounds near the Mysore Palace. The exhibition was innovated in 1880 by the Maharaja of Mysore, Chamaraja Wodeyar X, to bring current developments to the people of Mysore.

The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet8
The cultural event in Bannimantap Parade Grounds _©Times of India.

The Karnataka Expo Authority is presently in charge of organizing the exhibition. This show opens during Dasara and runs until December. Colorful alcoves dealing apparel, plastic products, housewares, cosmetics, and food are put up, attracting numerous callers. A play area with lodestones similar to a Ferris wheel is also available to keep the kiddies entertained. Colorful government realities set up booths to punctuate their accomplishments and systems. When the Dasara does not occur, the entire ground is devoid of life.

The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet9
The exhibition grounds during normal days _©Times of India.
The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet10
When the Karnataka Expo Authority organises the show, the ground view _©Times of India.

Around the ten days of Dasara, multitudinous music and cotillion events are conducted in amphitheaters throughout Mysore. On this occasion, musicians and cotillion groups across India are invited to perform. Another Dasara highlight is the Kusti Spardhe (wrestling match), which draws wrestlers from around India. Other events at Bannimantap include bike processions and other conditioning.

The Majestic Mysuru Dasara: A tradition for centuries - Sheet11
The 21- gun salutation shows respect for the Chief Guest_© Alamy.

The Cannon Firing is another essential point of the Mysuru Dasara festival. The 21- gun salutation shows respect for the Chief Guest. The Goliath safari follows the sound of cannon fire and is accompanied by music bands and dancing groups.  When the National Anthem is performed, the City Armed Reserve police officers do this salutation. Practices are held before the Mysuru Dasara festival to familiarise the mammoths and nags with the loud sound. The state has kept its ancient history, adding to the jubilee’s attractiveness.

The event by jawans in the bannimantap ground during torch light parade   _© Alamy.

Reference :

  1. Karnataka Tourism. 2022. Mysuru Dasara |Jamboo Savari | Vijayadashami | Karnataka Tourism. [online] Available at: <https://www.karnatakatourism.org/mysuru-dasara/> [Accessed 7 September 2022].
  2. Paper, T., Editor, R., Page, O., 2022, B., Quotes, S., Sports, O., gardens, H. and year, M., 2022. Mysuru Dasara is to be held on a grand scale this year. [online] Thehindu.com. Available at: <https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mysuru-dasara-to-be-held-on-a-grand-scale-this-year/article65659389.ece> [Accessed 8 September 2022].
  3. En.wikipedia.org. 2022. Mysore Dasara – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysore_Dasara> [Accessed 8 September 2022].
  4. party, Incessant rains, l., hall…, pre-Independence, case, K’taka…, today…, stare…, one… and CWG…, 2022. Dasara jumbos begin their journey to Mysuru. [online] Deccan Herald. Available at: <https://www.deccanherald.com/state/mysuru/dasara-jumbos-begin-their-journey-to-mysuru-1134069.html> [Accessed 7 September 2022].
Author

Sakshi Jain is a fifth-year architecture student at the Mysore School of Architecture in Mysuru. She believes in creating experiences and exploring - big and small - which explains her love of language. With a rekindled love of reading and a desire to travel, she intends to go places and share her experiences.

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