Here’s a look at the famed Mysuru festival, packed to the brim with exhibitions, processions and grandeur.
It is Nadahabba time in Mysuru. Nada Habba or Dusshera is the state festival in Karnataka, and no city celebrates it with more fervour. Called the Mysuru Dasara Festival, it is one of the most flamboyant and extravagant festivals in the country and is over 400 years old.
Dusshera celebrations in Mysuru are lavish and go on for 10 days: The first nine being Navratri and the culmination of the festival on the 10th day of Vijayadashami.
Legend has it that Mysuru was originally called Mahisasura Ooru (town of Mahisasura), after the buffalo-headed demon who ruled the city. The Goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) killed him after nine days of combat. Her victory on day 10 is celebrated as Vijayadashmi. The hill near Mysuru is named Chamundi Hill after the Goddess.
The Wodeyar rulers of Mysuru established this practice in 1610. This year marks the 419th anniversary of the festival. Though under the Indian Constitution, the kings and queens have lost all their political powers, the tradition of the erstwhile rulers of Mysuru playing a central role in Dasara celebrations continues.
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The ten-day festival commences with the royal couple, King Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar and his wife, organising a special puja at the Chamundi Temple on the hill. A special royal assembly is organised in the royal palace after the puja every year where special guests of the king convene. The tradition hasn’t changed in over four centuries.
The Mysuru Palace is illuminated with 100,000 bulbs from 7 pm to 10 pm for all the ten days which is a sight to behold. The first nine days are filled with festivities, dance and music programmes where artists from all over India visit the city just for the festival. A major attraction of the festival is the kusti spardhe or the wrestling bouts where the best wrestlers across India showcase their skills.
The highlight of the festival is the final procession on Vijayadashami. The procession includes horses, camels, swordsmen, dancers, and the grand finale: A beautifully decorated elephant on whom the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is mounted in a temple-like structure called the mantapa. It is said that the whole temple-idol combo is made of 750 kg gold apart from wood and steel. The destination is the Bannimantap where the royal couple worships the Banni tree. After the procession, called Jambo Savari, a torchlight parade takes place at the Bannimantap Palace Grounds.
Another attraction that marks the start of the festive season in Mysuru is the exhibition that starts during Navratri and lasts until December. Handicrafts, clothes, eatable stalls are set up during the exhibition. There is also a ‘mela’ that is organised alongside the exhibition with Ferris wheels and other forms of entertainment for the people.
The Mysuru Dasara festival is one of the most spectacular celebrations in the country and is not to be missed. While planning a trip to Mysuru to witness this festival, don’t forget to use your Axis Bank Credit Card to get exciting deals on travel and stay.
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