(Dussera / Dasara ) - October 14 2013
in Karnataka, India, is the most flourishing
and colourful princely states, celebrating
Dussehra in an ancient tradition style.
In the month September/October, the streets
and boulevards of Mysore are ablaze with
colour, the advent of a special season
of pomp and pageantry.
The Dussehra of Mysore, as it is popularly
known is a 10-day
long festival signifying the victory
of good over evil. Dussehra literally
means the tenth day. It marks the end
of the nine days of Navratri.
Dussera means different things to different
On the day of Dussehra, a procession of
caparisoned elephants carrying the idol
of goddess Chamundi is taken through the
city. The festival is celebrated in a
grand style with scores of cultural performances
in the great Durbar Hall of the Maharaja's
In most parts of India, especially
northern India, Dussehra is celebrated
in commemoration of Lord Rama's
victory over the ten-headed demon
king, Ravana. But Mysore celebrates
the festival in honour of Goddess
Chamudeswari who felled in fierce
battle the great demon, Mahishasur.
Chamudeswari is the family deity
of the royal house of Mysore and
during Dussehra her idol is taken
Caparisoned elephants marching together
in a procession are a unique feature of
the Mysore Dassara. The goddess
Chamundeshwari, is the Maharaja's
family deity and a procession of elephants,
courtiers and court symbols attracts tourists
by the thousands as it wends its circuituous
way to the temple, decorated splendidly
for the festival. The festival is celebrated
with a lot of pomp and show.
the 10th day of the festival, a colourful
procession featuring caparisoned elephants
winding through the gaily-decorated
streets of the city, mark the occasion.The
procession of mounted guardsmen on horse
back and decorated elephants, one carrying
the palace deity, Chamundeshwari, on
a gold 'howdah' marches from the palace
to the Banni Mantap.
There is also a floating festival in
the temple tank at the foot of Chamundi
Hill and a procession of chariots around
the temple at the top. A torch light
parade takes place in the evening followed
by a massive firework display and much
jubilation on the streets.
. Many children begin their education,
their dance or music, art or sport lessons
on this day. Adults also begin new ventures,
projects and journeys on this day.
Dussehra in other
In the northern states Dussera also
celebrates the homecoming of Sri Rama
the hero of the epic Ramayana, after
his victory over Ravana, the king of
Lanka. Dussehra can also be interpreted
as "Dasa-Hara", which means
the cutting of the ten heads of Ravana.
In vast open spaces, Ramleela, the folk
play with music and spontaneous dialogues,
retelling the story of the life of Rama,
are enacted till the wee hours. Songs
are sung to praise of Sri Rama and people
in thousands witness this traditional
theatre with its exaggerated costumes,
jewellery, makeup and drama. Larger
than life figures of Ravana and other
demons are burnt on dark nights with
fireworks lighting up the sky.
Dussera is also reminiscent of the end
of the exile and banishment of the Pandava
princes in the Mahabharata and their
return with their weapons to reclaim
their kingdom. In memory of this epic
story, people in Maharashtra worship
the implements of their professions
and distribute the leaves of the Shami
tree as gold and express their goodwill.
In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka,
families arrange dolls (Bommai
Kolu) and artefacts with decorative
displays of lamps and flower. Women
traditionally exchange gifts
of coconuts, clothes and sweets.
Dussehra and `Saraswathi
In some places it is called Dussehra,
in some other places `Kalipuja' or `Saraswathi
Puja' and in still others, `Ayudha Puja'.
It is because of the Divine Mother is
worshipped in her different manifestations
namely Durga, Saraswathi, Kali, etc.
The Puja in connection with Navarathri
is known as Bhuvaneswari puja that means
the worship of `Universal Mother'.
The last three days of the Navarathri
are called Durgashtami,
Mahanavami and Vijayadasami,
and they are considered more sacred
than the other days for Devi worship.
During these days, Saraswathi puja and
Ayudha Puja are performed. The Goddess
Saraswathi is worshipped as the Goddess
of Learning, the deity of Gayathri,
the fountain of fine arts and science,
and the symbol of supreme vedantic knowledge.
The importance of Ayudha Puja (the worship
of implements) on this occasion may
be due to the fact that on the Vijayadasami
day, Arjuna took back his weapons, which
he had hidden in a Vani tree in order
to lead a life in disguise for the promised
period of exile. It is believed that
one who begins or renovates his learning
to work on the Vijayadasami day will
secure a grand success as Arjuna did
in Kurukshetra war.
On the Durgashtami
day a ceremony called Poojavaipu
is performed in the evening.
The books and grandhas (holy books)
are neatly arranged with a picture or
an image of Goddess Saraswathi in front.
Then a Puja is performed to Saraswathi
during which fruits, beaten rice, roasted
paddy (malar), jaggery etc, are offered
to Her. These offerings are distributed
among those present when the Puja is
over. Just before the Pujavaipu, all
studies and workare suspended.
On the Vijayadasami
day after a Puja in the morning,
the Books and implements are removed
from the room and this ceremony is called
`Puja Eduppu'. The time for the break
up of the puja marks the beginning of
learning and work. Learning and work
commence at this auspicious moment.
Vijayadashami is also celebrated as
the day of victory to rejoice about
Durga's triumph over the demons led
by Mahishasura. It is essentially a
festival in honor of Durga, another
name for Parvathi, Lord Shiva's wife.
Therefore the famous 'Durga Puja' is
carried out on this day.
Ezhuthinu Iruthu' or 'Vidyarambham'
is performed at this auspicious day.
The children for the first time are
given instructions to write the first
few alphabets on rice or sand and according
to custom only after this ceremony child
becomes entitled to write or read.
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