Mysore Dasara is Karnataka’s state festival (Nada Habba). For centuries, this 10
day long festival has been celebrated with extravagance in all parts of the state.
The first 9 days of Mysore Dasara are called
Navratri, and the 10th day marks the celebration of Vijayadashmi. In 2010,
the festival completed 400 years of its celebration in Karnataka. Gatherings from
all parts of the world flock to the city for witnessing the spectacular celebrations
of Mysore Dasara every year.
When is Mysore Dasara Celebrated?
The festival begins on the first day of Shukla Paksha of the Hindu month of Ashvin,
which usually falls in September or October.
The city of Mysore gets its name from the demon Mahishasura. The festival of Vijayadashami
marks the victory of good over evil as Goddess Chamundeshwari defeated and killed
Mahishasura to end his tyrannical reign. She killed the buffalo headed monster on
the Chamundi Hill and thereafter resided there. The city and the hill still retain
their names. During the 15th century, Dasara celebrations reached its zenith under
the patronage of Vijayanagara kings. Even after their fall, the Wodeyars of Mysore
preserved the tradition. Raja Wodeyar I held an elaborate celebration of Mysore
Dasara in 1610 at Srirangapatnam.
The celebrations of Mysore Dasara begin on the sixth day of Navratra which is dedicated
to Goddess Saraswati. The eighth day is held in honour of Goddess Durga and on the
ninth day, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. During the festival, each nook and corner
of the city is thoroughly decorated and the calm life of the city is replaced of
festivities and merry making on every street. The celebrations begin with the Royal
couple from the Wodeyar family worshipping and performing special rituals to please
Goddess Chamundeshwari. The ‘puja’ is conducted in Chamundi temple, situated atop
the Chamundi Hill.
A special ‘durbar’ is also held at the Mysore Palace which is
attended by select members of the Wodeyar family and special invitees. Special ceremony
is held during which the king, Royal Highness Srikantadatta Narsimharaja ascends
7 steps to the elaborately decorated throne in his traditional attire. As part of
the celebrations, the Mysore Palace is illuminated on each of the 10 days of Mysore
Dasara and several cultural events to showcase the culture of Karnataka are held
in front of the palace. The palace remains open to the masses during the festival.
The Karnataka State Government organizes several music, folk dance, flower, film
and food competitions. A major attraction is the wrestling tournament held at Devraj
Urs Stadium which is attended by renowned wrestlers from all parts of India. Another
highlight of the festivities is the beginning of the Dasara exhibition in Doddakere
Maidan which lasts for around two months.
The grand finale of Mysore Dasara celebrations is the Vijayadashmi procession called
the “Jumboo Savari” which is held on Mysore’s streets. An idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari
graces the streets, placed on a golden “mandapa” over a decorated elephant. The
Goddess is worshipped by the Royal couple and then the procession begins from the
Mysore Palace. The festival culminates with a spectacular show of fireworks.