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What Is Dasara Festival Celebration?

Updated on October 27, 2020
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Lakshmi Menon has been writing articles on and offline for a number of years, Her work has been published in magazines and newspapers.

Illuminated Mysore Palace

What is Dasara Festival

Dasara festival is also known as Vijaya Dasami, which is celebrated on the 10th day of the holy Navratri. This is one of the most important festivals of India, and also called as Dusserha is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Dasara festival has an important place in the culture of India. It is a festival of pooja, joy, lights, music, songs, Ramlila and happiness.

When is Dasara Celebrated

Dasara Festival is celebrated in the month of Ashwin, the Hindu month, which falls in September-October. It is an extravagant festival and is celebrated for 10 days. The first nine days are called Navratri (‘Nav’ meaning 9 and ‘rathri’ meaning night), and the 10th day is Vijayadasami, the grand celebration day. Each day of Navratri is celebrated with different rituals in different parts of the country. Vijayadasami is the celebration of the destruction of demon Mahishasura by Goddess Chamundeswari.

Demon Mahishasura

What is Navratri

The first nine days of the Dasara Festival is called Navaratri and is celebrated to mark the destruction of evil, and the 10th day is known as Vijaya Dashami.

Indians have been celebrating the Navarathri festival from ancient times as a mode of worship of Devi, the Divine as mother. They worship Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati during those nine days.

What is the legend of Dasara

Dasara is celebrated in different ways in the different parts of the country. In the northern part of India, it is celebrated as the successful return of Lord Rama to his kingdom, after killing Demon Ravana. In Bengal Dasara is called as Durga Pooja. In the southern part of India, it is celebrated as Dasara and the main celebration is at Mysore, the cultural capital of Karnataka, for the victory of Goddess Chamundeshwari over the demon Mahishasur.Though the stories and celebrations are different, the theme of all the places is victory over evil.

How is Dasara celebrated at Mysore

In southern part of India in the city of Mysore, it is celebrated with great pomp and fanfare since the time of the rulers of the medieval Vijayanagar Empire, and is continued to celebrate with great festivities. Earlier the place was known as Mahishapura which was later anglocised as Mysore by the British, and now renamed as Mysooru. Dasara festival is synonymous with Mysore .

During the reign of Wodeyar Kings, Mysore was developed into a beautiful city with excellent planning, laid with beautiful parks, wide roads, and magnificent buildings. During the festival the entire city is dressed up in a festive look. The festival has become a tradition of the royal household and reached its zenith during the rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1902-1940). The name 'Dasara' stands for ten days of celebrations. Today it is a state festival of Karnataka, and also called as Nadda habbe.

In Mysore this grand festival is celebrated for the victory of Goddess Chamundeshwari over the demon Mahishasur. Goddess Chamundeshwari is also called by different names like Durga, Mahishasura Mardini, Maha Kali, Ambe etc.

The main venues of the festival are Mysore Palace, Jaganmohan Palace and Kalamandira. Mysore Palace is illuminated on all the ten days. The royal throne is displayed in the durbar hall of the palace for public view. The Mysore royals (Wodeyars) follow centuries old tradition and perform all the rituals and celebrate the festival. Special poojas are held in all the temples in the city especially in the Chamundeshwari temple atop the Chamundi Hills. Goddess Chamundeshwari is also the family deity of the Wodeyars.

The main attractions of the Dasara festival at Mysore are the illuminated Palace and other buildings, the colorful royal procession, caparisoned elephants, torch light parade, cultural programs, sports competitions, literary programs, food festival, film festival, air show etc.The renowned musicians of Karnataka and from outside perform their artistic skill in front of the palace. Preparations for these start many days ahead.

The elephants play an integral part of the Dasara festival in Mysore. The chief elephant is followed by a row of five elephants. They are caught by the elephant trainers in the Khedda operation and many factors go in the selection and training of these elephants.

The chief caparisoned elephant, lead by the royal, carries the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari inside the mounted 'golden howdah' during the Dasara festival procession with all its glory, into the city to reach the sacred tree Banni at Bannimantapa. Goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped by the royal couple and other invitees before it is taken around in the procession, which is accompanied by colourful tableaux,dance groups, music bands.

In the evening a torch light parade is held, with military and the police taking part in a disciplined manner showcasing their daredevil skills on horses and bikes. They also perform a drill holding torches and hence the name. The festivities end with a grand display of fireworks.

People decorate their pooja rooms with dolls handed over by their ancestors, and every year new dolls are bought to add to their collection. These dolls are arranged with new themes and utmost interest, called Bommai Kolu, and the elders watch it with a nostalgia. Friends and neighbors are invited to visit Bommai Kolu.

Special Food for Dussehra

The special food prepared during Dasara are a sweet pudding called payasa, holige, kosambari, chitranna (lemon rice) or puliyogare (tamarind rice) etc.

Illuminated Chamundi Temple

Dasara Procession

Shopping for Dasara

The main shopping streets are Sayajirao Road, Dhanvanthri Road, Devaraja Urs Road and shops around K.R.Circle. They can also go on a joy ride on one of Mysore’s heritage transport system, the tonga. Eating and shopping during Dasara are great fun.  Locals and tourists who attend to witness this festival enjoy eating of various tasty foods and shopping for ethnic goods at this time.


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