Royal Dasara: Continuing a tradition amidst pandemic

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, scion of the erstwhile royal family, at the close of the 10-day Navaratri festival at Mysuru palace on Monday.  

The low-key Dasara of the Wadiyars held under the cloud of the pandemic concluded with the ‘victory procession’ taken out in the presence of a few select invitees but devoid of the usual paraphernalia, at the palace premises here on Monday.

The religious rites associated with Navaratri were conducted over the last 10 days amidst the imperatives of maintaining social distancing.

Though a battery of priests under the guidance of Dharmadhikaris supervised the rituals, their numbers were reduced this year in view of the pandemic and it was entirely a private affair.

Though the Khas Durbar is devoid of any significance after the abolition of the privy purse, it is conducted for 10 days in what is a throw back to a bygone era and was no different this year. It entails the current titular king Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar ascending the golden throne in the presence of the courtiers dressed in Stately attire. A large crowd, mainly invitees, witness the proceedings during Navaratri but this year the palace was out of bounds to the invitees as well and it remained a low-key affair.

Another practice of the bygone era held during the Navaratri used to be Vajra Musthi Kalaga in which the wrestlers wearing knuckledusters with spikes, engage each other and whosoever draws first blood was declared the winner.

But this form of wrestling which has long gone extinct and conducted only during the Navaratri, was dropped this year due to the pandemic. The wrestling bout used to attract people in hundreds and posed challenges in ensuring social distancing.

The last day of Dasara saw the culmination of the rites with special prayers to the Banni tree performed by Yaduveer. The ‘vijaya yatre’ (victory procession) entailed a visit to the Bhuvaneshwari temple accompanied by the caparisoned elephants, the royal cow and the royal horse in the backdrop of traditional music played by an ensemble of musicians.

Though held far from the public gaze and the media spotlight, the private Dasara of the Wadiyars marked the continuation of the tradition started by Raja Wadiyar on ascending the throne at Srirangapatana in 1610 CE. This is also the link to the Navaratri as celebrated by the rulers of the Vijayanagar empire and inherited by the Wadiyars of Mysuru.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 10:30:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/royal-dasara-continuing-a-tradition-amidst-pandemic/article32948490.ece

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