Mysore - Festivals
Mysore is synonymous with Dasara celebrations. Several religious, cultural and other programmes mark the 10-day-long celebrations, which fall generally in the months of September-October, depending on the auspicious days of the Hindu calendar. Though the nine-day Navaratri and the 10th day celebration of Vijaya Dasami have lost their original royal grandeur, the celebrations still draw huge crowds. Tourists from India and abroad come to Mysore to see the various tourist attractions and witness the special programmes arranged during the 10-day festival and in particular the last day's Dasara procession.
On all the ten days, the Mysore Palace is illuminated and renowned musicians of the State and outside give performances in front of the Palace. The Palace is also thrown open to the visitors and the royal throne is displayed. During the nine days, the State Government arranges music, dance, folk dance, doll shows, wrestling and sports competitions. A nearly two-month-long Dasara Exhibition is conducted at the Doddakere Maidan, where several business and industrial houses take part, apart from Government departments and boards and corporations setting up pavilions highlighting progress in various fields. The celebrations conclude with a colourful State-organized procession. Floats, police and their band units, mounted guards, armed police, and some traditional items of the royal family are taken out in the procession. An idol of Goddess Chamundeswari kept in the golden howdah atop a decorated elephant is the main attraction. Several elephants of the Forest Department also take part in the procession from the Palace to the Banni Mantap grounds, a distance of about 2.5 miles. Besides these programmes, special worship and religious ceremonies are conducted at several temples, the chief being the Chamundeswari Temple atop the Chamundi Hills.
Dasara fesitval has both mythological and historical background. It has its origin in the great epic of 'Mahabharata'. The legendary Pandava brothers celebrated the festival to mark the triumph of good over evil. Coming out of their hiding in exile, they took out their hidden weapons and worshipped them, now celebrated as 'Ayudha Puja'. The Navaratri is also associated with the Devi Purana and celebrated according to the rituals laid down in it, to mark the destruction of evil. Historically, the celebrations can be traced to the Vijayanagar rulers. The rulers of the glorious medieval Vijayanagar Empire celebrated it on a grand scale. The then visitors to the Vijayanagar Empire like Domingoes Paes, Fernao Nuniz and Robert Sewell have recorded in their works on the forgotten empire the majestic style in which the Vijayanagar rulers were celebrating. The Mahanavami Dibba remnant in Hampi stands as a monument to the famous celebrations. Though the celebration suffered after the destruction of Hampi, the capital of Vijayanagar Empire, the Mysore ruler, Raja Wodeyar, revived the tradition in 1610. He also prescribed the tradition in which the future rulers should celebrate the Navaratri.
Kannada poets of the period of Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar and Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar have recorded in their classics the majestic Dasara celebrations. Even during the period of Hyder Ali Khan, the Mysore Wodeyars celebrated Dasara in the then capital of Mysore kingdom, Srirangapatna. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III and the subsequent rulers till Jayachamaraja Wodeyar revived the glory of the festival. With the abolition of princely rule, Dasara began to suffer and had been even stopped for a brief period. However, the State Government as 'Nada Habba' revived it. The scion of Mysore royal family, Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, continues to celebrate the 10-day festival in the traditional form in his wing of the Palace. He holds a private Durbar and procession also.
The Kannadiga new year day of Yugadi that falls on the second half of March or early April is celebrated with devotion and delight.Mysore also celebrates the national festivals of Independence Day, the republic day and the birthday of Gandhiji. Religious festivals like Makara Samkramana, Sri Ramanavami, Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Deepavali, Christmas, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha etc. are celebrated in harmony.