K’taka gears up for Mysuru Dasara, elephants accorded grand welcome

Karnataka began its preparations for the celebration of Mysuru Dasara, regarded as ‘Nada Habba’ (state festival), with eight elephants, which will figure in the festivities, accorded a ‘Poornakumbha’ (traditional welcome) into the Mysuru Palace on Thursday.

The team of elephants will be led by 55-year-old Abhimanyu, who will be carrying the 750 kg golden howdah in which a statue of goddess Chamundeshwari will be placed on Vijaydashmi day.

The bedecked elephants, also including Ashwathama, Dhananjaya, Vikrama, Kaveri, Chaitra, Lakshmi, and Gopalaswamy, made a grand entry through Jayamarthanda Gate to music from saxophonists, the mounted police, and the police band, while district-in-charge minister S.T. Somashekar and other dignitaries showered flowers on them.

Abhimanyu, flanked by Chaitra and Kaveri, was in the first line, Gopalaswamy, Dhananjaya, and Lakshmi came next, followed by Ashwathama. Vikrama came last.

However, Ashwathama, groomed to be the future howdah-elephant, panicked during the guard of honour, and broke the line, causing a commotion, and the policemen and others ran away. However, the mahout and kavadi managed to rein it.

The mahouts and kavadis were given welcome kits as a token of happiness and they will stay in the Mysuru Palace premises in makeshift tents.

Authorities have announced the simple itinerary of Dasara festivities amid the Covid crisis. It has been decided to illuminate the 100 kilometre length of Mysuru streets, spanning 150 roads and 77 junctions and roundabouts.

The Mysuru Palace will be illuminated from 7 p.m. to 9.30 pm on all days between October 7 and October 15, and it has also been decided to hold cultural activities in the evenings for six days.

The festivities began with the launch of ‘Gajapayana’ (the journey of elephants selected for Dasara from forest camps to Mysuru Palace) on September 13 at Veeranahosalli in Mysuru district.

The Dasara festivities will be inaugurated after performing puja of the presiding deity Chamundeshwari atop Chamundi hill on October 7, and then it will brought in a procession from Chamundi hill to Mysuru Palace to enable people to have ‘darshan’.

The famous ‘Jumbo Savari’ will be held on October 15 with Abhimanyu carrying the golden howdah and he will be accompanied by seven other elephants.

The 10-day Mysuru Dasara, which spans the nine days of Navaratri and then Vijayadashmi, observed on the tenth day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, which typically falls in September/October.

Celebrating the victory of good over evil, the Vijayadashmi is the day when Goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) killed the demon Mahishasura, after whom Mysuru is named.

The Mysuru tradition celebrates the warriors and the state fighting for the good during this festival, ritually worshipping and displaying the state sword, weapons, elephants, horses along with the goddess in her warrior form. The ceremonies and a major procession is traditionally presided by the Maharaja of Mysuru.

The city of Mysuru has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival with grandeur and pomp to mark the festival, and it marked its 409th anniversary in 2019.