Mysore or Mysuru Dasara – A 10-day extravaganza has been practiced since the Vijayanagara days in the 16th century. This ten-day spectacle is a magnificent festival that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Karnataka and reflects the essence of India’s unity in diversity.
This article talks briefly about festivities during the Mysuru Dasara and the exciting places to visit.
The royal city of Mysore or Mysuru has known the world over for many things – Ashtanga Yoga, Mysuru Palace, Mysuru pak, Mysuru sandalwood oil, incense sticks, Mysuru silk sarees, Mysuru railway museum, and last but not least, Mysore Dasara (MD). Mysuru Dasara is called the Nadahabba (state festival) of Karnataka state. It is the Vijaya Dashami day (the last day of Navaratri) that Mysuru will see the state-sponsored cultural procession.
Navaratri – the Victory of light over dark, good over evil
Navratri is the 9-day festivities during which various forms of the goddess Durga are worshipped commemorating the victory of light over dark. The 10th day, called Vijayadashami day is assumed to be the day in which the Goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) killed the demon Mahishasura. It is also presumed that the Mahishasura, the demon, was slain by the Goddess Chamudeshwari in Mysuru, hence the name Mysuru for the city.
Audha puja & Vijayadashami
ಮೈಸೂರು ದಸರಾ ಎಷ್ಟೊಂದು ಸುಂದರ – Iconic song of the 1970 movie “Karulina Kare” beautifully depicts the celebrations during Ayudha Puja.
Ayudha puja – The ninth day marks puja (reverence) for all household implements, vehicles, and weapons – in the olden days, wars used to be very frequent. They (implements) are worshipped and revered because it is they who make our lives get going. The inner spirit which indwells in every object is worshipped and is termed Ayudha puja. A glimpse of the ceremonial puja that was performed by the Wadiyars in 2022 is Here
Vijayadashami Procession – The ceremonies culminate with the major procession on Vijayadashmi day which has traditionally been presided over by the kings of Mysuru since the 15th century. The rituals are still being followed to date with only one exception, Goddess Chamundi presides over the procession instead of Mysuru kings.
The Goddess is placed on a golden mantapa (which is made of 750 kilograms of gold) on the top of a decorated elephant and taken around in the procession. Colorful tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses, and camels form a part of the procession which starts from the Mysore Palace and ends at a place called Bannimantap where the banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped. A peek into the 2022 Vijayadashami procession is Here
The Dasara festivities conclude on the night of Vijayadashami with an event held on the grounds at Bannimantap called Panjina Kavayatthu (torch-light parade).
The Mahabharata connection – According to a legend, the Pandavas of the Mahabharata, hid their weapons on the banni tree during their one-year period of Agnatavasa (living life incognito). Before undertaking any warfare, the kings traditionally worshipped this tree to help them emerge victorious in the war.
Dance & Music show
The 10-day extravaganza involves cultural programs featuring classical music, dance performances, folk arts, and traditional crafts. Numerous music and dance concerts are held in many auditoriums around Mysuru city. The festival hosts various Renowned artists from across the country performing on various stages, offering a visual and auditory feast to the spectators.
Kusthi spardhe (Wrestling bout)
Another attraction during Dasara is the Kusti Spardhe which attracts wrestlers from all around India.
Spectacle at Bannimantap
There are events, for example, Daredevil stunts on motorcycles and acrobatics by Indian Military personnel and Police officers, breathtaking fireworks, the laser light show, and Torch-Light-Parade at the Bannimantap stadium, where various groups demonstrate their skills.
Dasara exhibition (DE) has been the talk of the season as it is very colorful, with a lot of entertainment value. Every year, the Dasara exhibition is held on the exhibition grounds opposite the Mysore Palace.
History of Exhibition
The DE was started by the Maharaja of Mysuru Chamaraja Wodeyar X in 1880 with the ultimate aim of introducing to the subjects of his kingdom the various developments happening around the world. Like developments in Camera technology, writing instruments like pens, pencils, modern paper, photography, print technology, automobiles so on and so forth.
Currently, the task of holding the exhibition is entrusted to the government-owned Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA). This exhibition starts during Navaratri and goes on till December end.
Entertainment & Info galore
In the 19th century, there was a need for more avenues for entertainment, so people were eagerly waiting for DE to start. Since its inception, the DE with a play area containing attractions like a Ferris wheel providing real entertainment to the people has been a roaring success.
Also, the kings since 1880 wanted to tell the people what various government agencies under his kingdom were doing. So, they got various Governmental agencies to set up stalls to signify the achievements and projects that they have undertaken. This was to educate people about governmental works.
Mysore Dasara flower show
Like Bengaluru, Mysore also organizes her flower show during Dasara. People who love well-bloomed, beautifully curated flowers flock to the show, which takes place at Kuppanna Park. The park displays decorative plants and flowers of various hues and varieties, planted in over 50,000 flower pots. The Department of Horticulture cultivates those plants and flowers.
Flowers flowers everywhere
During the flower show, the Kuppanna Park premises gets decorated with a variety of flowers including Coxcomb, Celosia, Marigold, French Marigold, Button Chrysanthemum, Daliya, and turnip apart from specially procured plants and flowers from different places in India.
In the evenings, Kuppanna Park hosts cultural programs enthralling visitors. The kiosks installed at the park can provide information on how to grow flowers at home. Visitors can purchase seeds, manure, fertilizers, and the necessary implements needed for growing flowers.Here is a glimpse of the flower show.
Dasara festivities are not complete without one dedicated to the youth. Youth are our tomorrow and the Dasara should cater to the changing times. Hence, every year during Navaratri there is one cultural festival dedicated to youth. The singers and musicians from different places in India descend and perform gigs in Mysuru. Big MNCs like “Coke Studio” sponsor the event and make the youth relate to Dasara culture.
Mysore Palace’s Dazzling Illuminations
The illumination of the Mysuru Palace and during Dasara is a breathtaking sight to behold. During Dasara, the entire palace complex is adorned with nearly 100,000 light bulbs. This illumination creates a mesmerizing spectacle that attracts tourists from all over the world.
Mysore Dasara Sports
Dasara festivities are not complete without sports. The Royalty of Mysuru has always been the patron of sports. The first recorded sports in the Mysuru kingdom was in 1805. Since then throughout history, Mysuru has always had connections with sports. At present Karnataka Sports Ministry organizes Dasara sports at various stadia in and around Mysuru. Following sports competitions are generally held during Dasara, and the winners take away prestigious Mysuru Dasara cups.
- KHO KHO
- LAWN TENNIS
- TABLE TENNIS
- BALL BADMINTON
- THROW BALL
Ahara Mela (Food festival)
How can the Dasara festivities be complete without eating the food of our choice? Yes, for foodies, the Ahara Melas offer the widest variety of food to gorge on. The Mela is organized on open grounds to allow visitors to easily come and feast on their favorite food to their hearts’ content. It emphasizes introducing food from villages so that urban India can taste what rural Bharath enjoys.
Interesting place to visit
- Mysore Palace
- Jagan Mohan palace
- Krishna Sagar dam (Brindavan gardens)
- Mysuru Zoo
- Ranganathittu bird sanctuary
- Chamundeshwari temple
- Venugopala swami temple
- Somanathapura temple
- Ranganatha Swami Temple
- Mysuru Rail Museum
The beauty of the world-famous Mysuru Dasara is only seen to be believed. Mysuru has many good hotels, but most of them fill up even a week before the beginning of Navaratri. It’s better to book rooms in advance to ensure a pleasant stay in Mysuru.