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The majestic Mysore dussehra

Last updated on: September 25, 2009 

The majestic Mysore dussehra

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Vicky Nanjappa in Mysore

 

Every October, tourists and locals flock to Mysore, the erstwhile princely capital city in Karnataka, to witness the pomp and pageantry of the ten-day dussehra festival.

Dussehra marks the slaying of the demon Mahishasura by the goddess Chamundeshwari, or Durga.

The triumph of Chamundeshwari over Mahishasura was first celebrated as a public festival in 1610, when the Wodeyars, the princely rulers of Mysore, sponsored it.

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Image: The Mysore royal palace

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Caparisoned elephants, carrying an idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari seated in a 750 kg golden howdah (elephant seat), lead the procession.

In the days of the Wodeyars, the king used to sit in the howdah.

Hectic preparations are on to deck up the elephants, especially Balram, the royal elephant, which will carry the golden howdah.

Till 1969, when the maharaja presided over the festivities, the canopy of the howdah sported red and green bulbs. The monarch would send directions to the mahout by flashing these bulbs.


Image: Mysore Maharaja Srikantadutta Narasimharaja Wadiyar

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The majestic Mysore dussehra

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The grand City Palace, which was built by Henry Irwin and is more than 100 years old, is illuminated with some 5,000 bulbs for the occasion.

People from across the world come to Mysore to see the royal elephant. Balram and rest of the royal elephants will traverse 8 kilometres through the city.

Balram's mahouts say that although it is a matter of routine for these elephants, they still cannot take any chances.

You never know how the elephant may react and we have to ensure that they stay calm, especially with lakhs of people cheering them along the way.

Image: The royal palace is lit up during the 10-day long celebration

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The majestic Mysore dussehra

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In all, 12 elephants participate in the jumbo savari. There is a lot that goes in for preparation for the spectacle. The elephants have a hectic schedule.

Apart from practice sessions, they also have to take part in the prayers, which will be conducted everyday, 10 days prior to the actual event.

These elephants are painted, dressed up in royal attire and prayers are offered to them.

In the evenings, the decked up elephants are taken to the Mysore Palace.

Image: People gather to witness Balram and other elephants in procession

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To deck up the royal elephants, skilled painters are called in. The painting job commences at 9.30 pm and goes on till 7.30 am. After this, the jumbos are sent to another location where they are decked up with jewels and other caparisoning.

The Ganda Bherunda, the royal emblem of the Mysore Maharaja, is also painted up on the elephants. The yellow emblem is painted on the face of the elephants.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the celebrations pass off peacefully.

The security is tight and the mood of the people in Karnataka is upbeat. Why else would lakhs of people brave incessant rains and making a beeline for Mysore.


Image: The majestic royal durbar

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