Showpiece event to be inaugurated between 10.44 a.m. and 11.07 a.m. at Chamundeshwari temple today

A slice of the royal orient will unfold with a blend of the traditional and the modern as Mysore ushers in its showpiece event Dasara on Saturday.

The origin of the 10-day celebrations is rooted in mythology but in Mysore it is a continuation of a cultural legacy inherited by the Wadiyar dynasty from the rulers of the Vijayanagar (1336 AD to 1646 AD).

Underlining both continuity and change, Dasara has in the recent years emerged as a fulcrum to promote tourism and hard sell Mysore in a brand building exercise as a favourable investment destination.

While Dasara is a national festival celebrated across the country, in Mysore it has a historical legacy associated with royalty. It has evolved from being purely a religious event to a carnival showcasing the diversity of the State’s culture. The progress registered on various socio-economic parameters is depicted through exhibitions and tableaux that roll out during the Vijayadasami procession (on October 14 this year).

A tradition linked to the Navaratri celebrations at Vijayanagar, medieval travellers, Domingo Paes and Fernao Nuniz of Portuguese and Abdur Razak of Persia, have written about it and their descriptions seem to echo the events that unfold in modern times.

As the feudatories of Vijayanagar rulers, the Wadiyars controlled vast province of Mysore and it was Raja Wadiyar, who, ascending the throne at Srirangapatna in 1610, ordained that Dasara be celebrated on a grand scale; a practice that has continued till the present times lending Dasara the epithet as Nada Habba or the State festival.

What began as a thanksgiving to the Gods for nature’s bounty assumed new metaphysical connotations and came to symbolise the triumph of the good over the evil across the country.

In Mysore, Dasara is equated with the slaying of demon Mahishasura by Goddess Chamundeshwari. While the festival’s philosophical underpinning remains unchanged — of the triumph of the good over the evil, it has included components to underline Dasara as a continually evolving festival over the years.

So the scope of the festival has become more broad-based in recent times to infuse an element of vibrancy and hence, Dasara has moved on from being purely a traditional affair with classical music and dance programmes to incorporate elements that have drawn the new generation to it like never before.

From adventure sports to rural sports, film shows, food mela, rangoli contests, theatre festival, heritage walk, poetry recitation, paintings… new events are lined up each year broadening the festival’s appeal and scope.

The introduction of Yuva Dasara in 2000 drew youngsters to the celebrations like never before. Also, corporate sponsorship began to pour in.

With over 150 cultural programmes scheduled across seven major venues (programme schedules are available on www.mysoredasara.gov.in), the visitors will be spoilt for choice.

But for connoisseurs it is the cultural programme in the backdrop of the illuminated palace that provides the perfect setting to soak in the best of classical music and dance from across the country.

The grand finale is the Vijayadasami procession, popularly called the Jamboo Savari, and the images of the caparisoned elephants, the 750-kg golden howdah with the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari and the procession of folk artistes and tableaux that leave behind lingering memories.

Truly, it is said that Mysore Dasara is not a one-off event to be witnessed, but an experience to be savoured and hence, described as a living heritage of the people of the State.

The celebrations will be officially inaugurated by Jnanpith award winner Chandrashekar Kambar at the Chamundeshwari temple between 10.44 a.m. and 11.07 a.m. on Saturday. Folk artiste Yenagi Balappa will inaugurate the cultural events on the palace premises at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, athlete Milkha Singh, who was scheduled to inaugurate the Dasara Sports Meet, is not arriving here due to health reasons.

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