Shimla, Oct 19 (IANS) Over 200 ‘gods and goddesses’ assembled in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu town for the week-long Kullu Dussehra festivities that began on Friday.
Kullu Dussehra, a centuries-old festival, begins on Vijaya Dashami, the day when the festivities end in the rest of the country.
“Over 200 deities have already arrived and the arrival of the rest continue,” Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan, the chief organiser of the festival, told IANS.
He said 305 deities have been extended the invitation for the Kullu Dussehra.
Unlike other parts of the country, here effigies of Ravan, Meghnad and Kumbhakarna are not burnt.
The ‘evil empire’ will be destroyed by the assembled deities during the Lankadahan ceremony on the bank of the Beas on October 25, the last day of the celebrations.
The chariot of Lord Raghunath, the chief deity, accompanied by palanquins of other assembled deities, reached the historic Dhalpur Maidan here amid beating of drums and playing of ‘shehnais’.
Thousands of devotees pulled the sacred rath (chariot) of Lord Raghunath.
Governor Acharya Devvrat inaugurated and participated in the festivities.
The festival dates back to 1637, when Raja Jagat Singh ruled Kullu. He had invited all local deities in Kullu 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 decorated palanquin with fanfare from the respective temples dotted across the picturesque Kullu Valley to this historical town.
Here, the assembled deities participate in the Dussehra processions led by the chariot of Lord Raghunath, the chief deity, on the first and the last day of the festival.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur would the concluding festivities on October 25.
In the wake of the state high court ban on the sacrifice of animals to “appease” the gods and goddesses, the government has issued an advisory.
For centuries, the festival has concluded with a sacrifice of a buffalo, a male sheep, a fish, a crab and a chicken.
The picturesque Kullu Valley is known for its local demigods that govern the lives of the ethnic communities.
Every village has several resident ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses’ who are invoked as living deities.
The conduit between the mortals and the deities are the ‘gur’ — the traditional shamans, who form the core of the communities’ spiritual sustenance. The ‘gur’ mediates between the people and the gods.