Tuesday, 11 October 2016

A liitle bit of royalty and a lot to rejoice!

Called Nadahabba or the festival of the state, Dasara is truly a festival that is celebrated with pomp and gaiety throughout Karnataka and also the southern part of the country. Among the various places where Dasara is celebrated in South India, the Mysore Dasara stands out as much as for its royal connections as for the abundance it brings to the common man.

Visiting the Royal palace in the city of Mysore, one is literally transported back to the era of kings and queens! Where else would you expect to see elaborately decorated elephants, horses and camels march in harmony with the dressed up senapatis, even as the whole city and visitors from the country and abroad cheer the royal processions! Added to that is the grand Durbar that the King of the palace from the Wodeyar dynasty, holds each year, chairing the gem studded throne and worshipping the royal sword. Even if it is just for ten days, the whole atmosphere metamorphoses into one of grandeur and splendor!

Goddess Chamundeshwari, the incarnation of Durga, the slayer of the buffalo demon Mahishasura and the demons Chanda and Munda, is brought down from her abode in the hills and taken in a huge procession around the city. As the Goddess majestically sits in a mantapa made of a whooping 750 kilos gold, carried atop a bejeweled elephant – the Jumbo Savari – as it is called, the audience cannot help but be dazzled by the exuberance of piety mixed with pizzazz! The colourful tableaux, dances, and music bands add color to the festivities.

Elsewhere in Karnataka and also in her sister states of TamilNadu, AndhraPradesh and Kerala, decorating the house with dolls, called Gombe, Golu, Kolu, or Gullu respectively, is a part of the ten day celebration. Articulately arranged dolls sit smug on steps made with wooden planks and covered with white cloth, giving vent to individual creativity and the art of story-telling, passed over to them as a part of their traditions. Gods and goddesses vie for place on the pedestal with toys depicting everyday scenes, court life, puranas, royal processions, rath yatras, and weddings.

An interesting and must have pair of dolls made of teak or sandal wood are the Marapachi Bommai or Pattada Gombe, which are an elegantly dressed couple, the bride and the groom, probably signifying Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. What makes the festival fun are the contests, where households participate in a friendly competition for best decorated Golu and most delicious prasadams!
Saraswati puja marks the seventh day of the festival where books and musical instruments are worshipped and Ayudha puja on the ninth day when the tools used in individual professions are worshipped. The most important day is Vijayadashami, which is celebrated on the tenth day. Little children who are ready to begin schooling are inducted into writing their first alphabets on a plate of rice using a root of turmeric.

As much fun as this festival of dolls is, it also has its spiritual significance. It is a means of invoking the divine into our houses. It is a message that everything from the animate to the inanimate is connected to the Supreme. It also evinces your strengths and urges you to get rid of your inner demons.

May this festival shower you with abundance in every aspect of your life!

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