Most people believe that the actual fun is in the nine days of Navratri and that Dassehra is a bit more of rituals at home and at the most watching a Raavan burn. How wrong you are! This Dassehra celebrate the triumph of good over evil, the victory of fair over unfair, with some of the most spectacular fairs in the country. Let us tell you more.
Where could you go to celebrate the victory of Lord Rama, if not to the valley of Gods? When you see Kullu draped in festivities for Dassehra, you will agree whole-heartedly with the name. The Dhalpur maidan in Kullu is where a week long fair is held to begin the festival. Then the respective deities are bought from all the temples to the fair ground with processions and bands followed by Gaddi shepherds singing and dancing in their praise. Homage is then paid to the regnant deity. There’s a ten day long celebration marked by religious and cultural programs including the enactment of the Ram Leela. The chariot of the regnant deity is brought to the banks of the river Beas wherein a heap of wood along with grass representing Raavan is set on fire. People averse to gore, animal sacrifices follow so shut your eyes and ears. The rest of it you definitely want to keep your eyes and ears wide open for. Nothing shows the culture of Himachal better.
The Kota Dassehra is really unique because it marks more than just the beginning of a festive period. Larger than life effigies of the demons Ravana, Kumbhakarana and Meghnad are burnt on Dassehra day to symbolize the victory of good over evil. Usually these effigies are filled with crackers. A young child dressed as Lord Ram is made to shoot an arrow of fire at Ravana and the huge figure is burnt. This is where you have to be to witness a classic Dassehra Raavan’s immolation.
Villagers gather here dressed in their best colors and prominent artists from all over the country are invited to participate in cultural programs to enthrall huge audiences. Rich in courtly splendor and age old traditions, the Dassehra festival here is marked by a glittering procession that is definitely worth seeing. Dramas, depicting the Armageddon, are popular. Traders come from everywhere to display their attractive wares. The Kota Dassehra fair lasts for about a fortnight.
In the south, Dassehra is known as Vijayadashami. In Mysore, the festival is popularly known as Dasra Fair or Mysore Dasra and has been declared as ‘Naada Habba’ or the state festival of Karnataka. Mysore was supposedly where the demon Mahishasura lived and the festival is celebrated here in the honor of Goddess Chamundeshwari who slayed him. The fair is celebrated on a grand scale in the city of “maharajas”- Mysore and attracts tourist from all over the world. During the ten days, the usually quiet city turns into a dazzlingly illuminated vision with dynamic festivities so that large crowds from distant places come to witness this grandeur.
Many exciting programs like film festivals, sports and wrestling, air show, food stalls and exhibitions are organized at different locations for these ten days. The festival is concluded on the last day with a mega event, the Vijayadashmi procession. The idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed in a golden howdah on the top of a decorated elephant. It is then worshipped by the royal couple and other guests before being taken around for the procession. Colourful illustrations, dancers, bands, armed forces, royal dignitaries, decorated elephants, horses and camels all form a part of the procession. It starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantap, where the Banni tree is worshipped.
While there’s still time for Dassehra, get your tickets booked in advance; because you really want to trust us when we say these are celebrations you do not want to miss! Happy Dassehra everyone!