Dasara in Mysore– a Royal festival celebrated with grandeur

Dasara (a.k.a. Dusharah) is celebrated typically in October. The mode and the fervor vary by a great deal across the subcontinent.

Different parts of India celebrate the festival in different ways. Some celebrate it as Navaratri, some as Vijaya-Dashami, and some as Dussehra, in worship of Goddess Durga or celebrating Rama's victory over Rawana. The celebrations vary from a day to nine days (for Navaratri) to a month (for Mysore Dasara).

Known for its magnificent Palaces and Majestic buildings, sprawling gardens and tree lined boulevards, shimmering silks and Sandalwood, the ‘City Royale’ – Mysore, always figures in the tourist’s itinerary. It conjures up visions and memories of the resplendent glory of the illustrious Wodeyar Kings. This former state capital is a seamless blend of the old-world charm and modernity. It retains tradition in music and dance, art and literature.

I hail from Mysore in Karnataka where Dasara is a festival the whole city celebrates. The entire city is decked up and ready to bring on the festivities and pomp associated with this popular festival.

The festival falls in September/October every year and comprises nine nights of worship and celebration, called Navaratri. The tenth and concluding day is called Vijayadasami, signifying the slaying of the demon Mahishasura by Mahishasuramardini, the Goddess Chamundeswari or Durga, the principal deity of the maharajas. Legend has it that Mysore city derived its modern name from Mahishasura.

Goddess Chamundeswari Temple on Chamundi Hill

Mahishasura

Nandi atop Chamundi Hill

Dasara became a Naada Habba (or people's festival) in the 14th century, during the reign of the Vijayanagar kings (1336 A.D. to 1565 A.D.).

On the first day of the Navratri, the king, after a ceremonial bath, worships the family deity in the palace and enters the durbar to the accompaniment of sacred chants and music. He worships the navagrahas (nine sacred deities) and the sacred `kalasa'. Then he ascends the throne at an auspicious moment after going around it three times. The palace lights are lit and a 21-gun salute is given as the royal insignia and sword are presented to him.

Srikantadutta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, the scion of the royal family, on the throne during Dasara celebrations

This year Dasara is being celebrated from the 12th October to the 21st October. During Dasara, the entire City is decorated and illuminated. Cultural programmes by famous artists are arranged in the Palace along with Sports, Wrestling, Poet's meet, Food Festival, Film Festival witnessed by a large number of people. Every year a colourful and unique Flower show is also for public display.

The king worships the Goddess Saraswathi on the seventh day and Mahisasuramardini on the eighth. On Mahanavami, the royal sword is worshipped ceremoniously and all the weapons are taken out in a procession of the army, elephants, horses, camels and the royal retinue. Ceremonies are held on the Chamundi Hill.

Navaratri culminates in grand Vijayadasami celebrations, also known as Jambu Savari. The grandeur and magnificence of this event has popularised the Mysore Dasara the world over. On this day, the king worships the royal sword, places it on a palanquin and offers an ash gourd smeared with vermilion as sacrifice to it. He heads the grand procession, seated in the historically famous 75-kg golden howdah bedecked with rare gems and pearls, which is carried by the royal elephant.

Royal elephant Balarama carring the Golden Howdah

Dasara procession

But the most significant change in the Dasara celebrations now is that the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari has replaced the king in the procession. Also absent is the royal procession comprising soldiers. The entire procession comprises of the royal elephants (which come from Nagarhole National Park), horses and tableaus depicting the State Government’s achievements for the year.


Mysore Palace by Day

Mysore Palace illuminated by Night

Temple inside the Palace

Rose Nandi --At this year's Flower Show – made with 40,000 roses

At the Flower Show

Prominent Circle illumination

Decked up streets

Colours shop inside the main market

Flower Vendor in the market

I miss Mysore especially at this time, but these pictures bring back good memories of past Dasara celebrations.

Wishing all of you a very Happy and Joyous Dasara!!

This is my entry to the Jihva Special Edition: The Festive Series hosted by Vee of Past, Present and Me


27 comments:

  1. wonderfull photos Namratha! its such a pleasure to see them! :)

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  2. Hi Namratha, first time in ur blog.. nice blog u hv.. very useful information with the nice photos.. thank you

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  3. Beautifull photos and very well presented.Missing Mysore so so much. Thanks for the pictures..Happy Dasara to you too.

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  4. What beautiful pictures...very informative post... thanks for sharing...happy dussehra to you and your family.

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  5. Great Photos, lots of new info for me. thanks for sharing

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  6. Wonderfil pictures.
    Year ago i visited Mysore.

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  7. Beautiful! I haven't seen Mahishasura in yrs!! I miss it too. Thanks Nammu for so many beautiful pics. Now I am going to go and sniffle!!:D

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  8. happy dasara to u namratha...i miss seeing piles of colors mounted high here...everything is so bland

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  9. Good One Namratha...Yup...Mysore Dasara is very famous....Nice to see all the pics.....Good post...Good post :-)

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  10. Thanks Roopa, I'm glad you liked them:)

    Thanks smn, nice to have you over:)

    Thanks Madhu, I know how you feel..we miss Mysore!! :(

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  11. Thanks Sunita!:)

    Thanks Saju, I'm glad to have shared this information:)

    Thanks Happy, did you like Mysore?

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  12. happy dussehra to u!
    40,000 roses, wow must be a sight to treasure :)

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  13. Ohh Asha dear, I'm glad you liked these pics..come on over, let's reminisce together!:)

    So true Rajitha dear, its hard to celebrate Dasara here, no fanfare at all right?!

    Thanks Sirisha dear:)

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  14. Yeah Love Mysore. But have not gone back. My sister lives in B'lore and everytime when we visit her we plan to go there but then her kids are in school and something comes and it never happened.
    Next year we are planning to go to India so we've planned to go back to mysore even without my sis and family. We've decided if they want they can join up in the weekend but we'll go earlier.
    Wow this is not a comment it is a whole letter :-)))

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  15. Thanks for sharing those pictures, It's always fun to learn something new!

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  16. Such grandeur!!! thanx for sharing the awesome pix!!!

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  17. Oh you really should go to Mysore, and hope when you go I'm there too, would love to have you over:) Loved every bit of your 'letter' my dear:)

    Thanks Meeso:)

    Thanks Manasi:)

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  18. Happy Dasara Namrata. Missing Mysore so much. Wonderfull pics and a nice write up. Feeling nostalgic.

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  19. Thanks Lakshmi, I'm missing Mysore too! :(

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  20. :Beautiful pictures...!!I hav been twice to Karnataka..and once to mysore..:))Thanx for sharing...:))

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  21. All pictures of Mysore Dasara are great!:)) Living so near never saw the procession live fearing the crowd!:)) Happy dasara namrutha!:))

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  22. Such a nice post with beautiful pics Namratha, Happy Vijaya Dashami

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  23. nice pics and beautiful writup. I have visited chamudi temple countless times:)

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  24. Nice Pics.
    Everyday sun rise to give us a message that darkness will always be beaten by light. Let us follow the same natural rule and enjoy the festival of good defeats evil. Happy Dussehra….!!!!
    Dussehra SMS.

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  25. hi dear,
    I like to visit Resort and spa during my vacation.Im looking out for a good resort to visit this weekend.planing for Bandipur resorts and kgudi resort

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  26. If at all possible, time your visit to Mysore to coincide with the Dussehra festival. The city is then at its beautiful best, clothed in color, light and joy... Mysore City

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  27. Loved your blog! the pic of mahishasura you have posted is my favorite part of dussera.

    Here is a link for detailed reviews of great food in Mysore:

    http://whimsytummy.blogspot.in/2013/08/go-italiana.html

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