Kullu, Oct 11 (IANS) Over 200 deities of gods and goddesses assembled in this Himachal Pradesh town for the week-long Kullu Dussehra festivities that began on Tuesday.
Kullu Dussehra, a centuries-old festival, begins on ‘Vijaya Dashami’, the day when the festivities end in the rest of the country.
Governor Acharya Devvrat inaugurated the festival by participating in the ‘rath yatra’ or chariot-pulling ceremony of Lord Raghunath, the chief deity, at Dhalpur ground here.
Speaking on the occasion, the Governor felicitated the people on the festival, which symbolizes the victory of truth over evil.
The culture of Himachal Pradesh was unique and had a distinct identity. The fairs and festivals celebrated here round the year, provide a glimpse of rich traditions and beliefs of the people, the Governor said.
Nearly 245 deities from various parts of the Kullu Valley are participating in the festival.
Unlike other parts of the country, in Kullu the effigies of Ravan, Meghnad and Kumbhakarna are not burnt.
However, the ‘evil empire’ will be destroyed by the assembled deities during the Lankadahan ceremony on the bank of the Beas river on October 17.
The chariot of Lord Raghunath, accompanied by palanquins of other assembled deities reached the historic Dhalpur ground amid beating of drums and playing of ‘shehnais’.
Thousands of devotees pulled the sacred rath (chariot) of Lord Raghunath.
The festival dates to 1637 A.D, when Raja Jagat Singh ruled Kullu and invited all the local deities to perform a ritual in honour of Lord Raghunath during Dussehra.
Since then, the annual assembly of deities from hundreds of village temples has become a tradition.
After the abolition of princely states, it is the administration which has been inviting the deities.
According to tradition, the devotees bring the idol of their deity in a beautifully decorated palanquin amid the sounding of trumpets and drums from the respective temples dotted across the picturesque Kullu Valley to this historical town.
Here, the assembled deities participate in the Dussehra procession led by the chariot of Lord Raghunath on the first and the last day of the festival.