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Mysore Dasara

India as a country, a subcontinent or a world within, has always been an interesting topic of discussion owing to its diversity and richness. Writers, poets, authors and people from all walks of life have defined this vast, vibrant, remarkably assorted, breathtakingly beautiful, cultural, spiritual, historic, unpredictable country in the choicest of words.

Brimming with stunning beaches, melodramatic temples, exotic rain forests, gigantic mountains and golden deserts India has an ultimate allure for the travelers across the globe. Vivid and paradox in culture, arts, heritage and language, India is bequeathed with rich natural beauty that adds to its sheer existence and aura.

India is famed for its festivals, ranging from Holi – the flamboyant festival of colours, to bright and sparkling Diwali that adds sparkle to every Indian heart. Surprisingly, most of the festivals are celebrated with diverse tradition in different parts of the country and hence offer a regional touch and flavor.

In contrast to North India where Dussehra is celebrated only for a day to mark the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana, the festivities in Mysore Dasara (another name for Dussehra) commemorates the victory of Goddess Chamundeshwari (another name of the divine mother Durga) over the demon king Mahishasura – for 10 days; again a symbolic triumph of good over evil. This festival accentuates the local fervor with its uniqueness and style of celebration.

Mysore Dasara is the state festival of Karnataka and is celebrated on a grand scale. It is celebrated in the month of September or October. The festival is celebrated for ten days with the last day being 'Vijayadashami', which is the most auspicious day of the festival. As per legend, the last day symbolizes victory of good over evil, as it was the day when Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the invincible demon Mahishasura. Mysore city has a very old tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival; recently in 2010 it completed its 400th Anniversary with effervescence and exuberance galore.

Each night, the Mysore Palace remains spectacularly illuminated during the Dasara. The celebrations begin with the royal couple offering a special Puja to Goddess Chamundeshwari in the Chamundi Temple which is situated atop Chamundi Hill in Mysore. After this a special private durbar i.e. royal assembly is held at the Mysore palace. During the festival several dance performances and music concerts are held in auditoriums and other venues. Wrestling competitions and food festivals are also organized. The Dasara exhibition starts during the festival and lasts till December. A plethora of stalls sell a variety of handicrafts, ornaments, clothing, cosmetics, eatables, etc. along with games and amusement rides at the exhibition.

A grand and magnificent procession, called the Jambu Savari, winds its way through the streets of Mysore on the last day providing a fitting finale to the 10-day festivities. The main attraction of the procession is the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari which is carried in a golden howdah weighing over 750 kg on top of a beautifully caparisoned elephant. Crowds greet her with loud worshipping cries, the young run after her, the elderly bow to her with eyes welling up and most offer heartfelt prayers. The pageant also features colourful floats and tableaus revolving around themes like silk production, yoga, health messages, martial arts, music, dance and culture. The audience here claps, laugh and scream at every opportunity. In the evening, there's a torch-light parade at the Bannimantap grounds on the outskirts of the city. Highlights include fireworks, daredevil stunts on motorcycles, and a laser show.

Many events that happen as part of Mysore Dasara are free. However, gold cards are also sold. These provide special privileges for tourists such as free entry into 11 tourist places, and premium seats at the grand finale, Jumbu Savari procession and torch light parade. Tickets are also sold separately for the procession and the torch light parade. The festivities are simply infectious and envelope everything –palaces, forts, temples, roads, trees, shops and people- resulting in a gala celebration of faith.

The city's royal heritage ensures that the festival is elaborately celebrated on a grand scale.

Truly an experience worth living, a visit to Mysore is highly recommended for those who love witnessing Indian culture and sub-culture in a different form altogether..!!