The 10-day long Dasara festivities began on a traditional note atop the Chamundi Hills on Saturday with special prayers being offered to Goddess Chamundeshwari, the presiding deity of Mysore.
Sri Sri Ravishankar, founder, Art of Living Foundation, Bangalore, inaugurated the celebrations by lighting a traditional lamp and offering flowers to the idol of the goddess. Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, Minister in-charge of Mysore Shobha Karandlaje and Minister for Information Technology Katta Subramanya Naidu were among those present.
The highlight of this year’s inaugural function was the participation of over 500 foreign devotees of Sri Ravishankar.
In his address, Sri Ravishankar said it was not right to oppose celebrating festivals such as Dasara owing to the price rise. “Festivals are a part of our culture and tradition, and they give us the strength to overcome difficulties in life,” he said.
He said festivals brought in a spirit of enthusiasm and happiness among the people and that there seemed nothing wrong in celebrating them.
Appreciating the organisers of the show, Sri Ravishankar said he was happy to learn about the “Rural Dasara” concept that was being implemented. “Most people in rural areas cannot afford to come here to witness the festivities. An opportunity has been given to them to celebrate the occasion. It is a sign of development if people in rural areas can participate in such celebrations,” he added.
Describing Mysore as the centre of art and culture, he said people visited this city as a mark of appreciation of its history and culture. In fact, India had been successful in drawing visitors from all over the world because of its diverse culture. Specifically, the culture in old Mysore region had been a major attraction for tourists, he said.
“I pray to Goddess Chamundeshwari to bring happiness to the people and the State. I wish more people participate in this year’s celebrations,” he said. Before his address, Sri Ravishankar rendered a poem written by him in Kannada on the goddess.
The Chief Minister said his government had made sincere efforts to hold the celebrations in a meaningful way. “Mysore Dasara is being promoted in a big way to boost tourism in the region. The festivities have been publicised across several nations to draw tourists. The modernisation of the Mysore airport at Mandakalli will help further in developing tourism in the region,” he said and added that airports were being developed in various districts that had tourism potential.
Rs. 100 crore for tourism
Declaring that he would set aside Rs. 100 crore for tourism development in his next budget, Mr. Yeddyurappa said impetus had been given to the sector and that Rs. 170 crore had been earmarked in the budget for various tourism projects.
He reiterated his Government’s plan of holding “utsavs” on the lines of the Mysore Dasara, in the districts, to spread awareness about the Dasara tradition. He said new and special events were being added to Dasara schedule regularly in an effort to scale up the grandeur of the festival. New events such as “Yoga Dasara” had been included in this year’s celebrations, he added.
Mr. Yeddyurappa also hinted at making yoga education compulsory in schools from next year.
The Chief Minister took the opportunity to explain the efforts made to build relations between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, with the recent unveiling of the statues of saint-poets Thiruvalluvar and Sarvagna in Bangalore and Chennai respectively.
He said the Government planned to rope in more technocrats and creative people in the planning process in an effort to take the State forward.
Ms. Karandlaje, in her welcome address, said 380 events had been organised at 23 venues in this year’s celebrations. Satyanarayana, MLA, presided over the function.