All of India celebrates Dussehra with grand fervour, with different names and traditions.
There are the Dasha-hara celebrations in North India wherein the main deity of worship is Lord Ram, Kullu Dussehra celebrated in the Kulu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Vijayadashami celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Madikeri Dasara celebrated in Mariyamman Temples, Navrathri celebrations in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Durga Puja celebrated in Kolkata and Odisha, and so on.
However, it is the majestic town of Mysore, that leads the coup in Dussehra celebrations. The festival is celebrated with a pomp and extravagance in Mysore, that the royal town has become synonymous with the 10-day festival, which celebrates and commemorates the victory of the Goddess Chamundeshwari over the demon Mahishasura and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
During the 10-day festivities, the normally calm, slow, peaceful Mysore city erupts into life and every street and corner bustles with activity.
As a part of the celebration, houses, shops and other buildings in the city will be decorated and illuminated for the entire duration of the celebrations. During these 10-day celebrations, renowned musicians from and around Karnataka will perform in front of the Mysore Palace, which has been completely illuminated with LED bulbs at a cost of ₹77 lakhs this year.
One of the major attractions of the Dussehra festivities is the traditional Dussehra procession or the Jamboo Savari held on Vijayadashami, during which the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed in a golden howdah on the top of a decorated elephant. This idol is worshipped by the royal couple and other invitees before it is taken around for the procession.
Colourful tableaux, dance groups, music bands, armed forces, folklores, the royal identities, decorated elephants, horses and camels form a part of the procession, which starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantap, where the Banni tree is worshipped.
Although the Dussehra festivities were initially started by the Wodeyar King, Raja Wodeyar I in the year 1610, it was during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1805), that the tradition of having a special Durbar in the Mysore Palace, which was attended by members of the royal family, special invitees, officials and the common masses, began.
Mysore Dussehra is now the "Nadahabba" or the state festival of Karnataka, and as a part of the celebrations, the Mysore Palace remains open to the public and the royal throne will be proudly displayed. The State Government also arranges dance performances, doll shows, wrestling matches and other sports competitions.
In 2014, the official Mysore Dussehra celebrations began on 25 September around 8:37 am, in the presence of actor-director Girish Raghunath Karnad, with special puja offered to the Goddess Chamundeshwari at the famous Sri Chamundeshwari Temple in Chamundi Hills.
Post the Puja, a host of activities were held on Thursday, including the inauguration of the Dussehra film festival, food mela, Nadaswara performance, Holi dance by Uttar Pradesh team, traditional Coorg dance performance by Coorg Gowda Youth Forum, performance of the play "Shri Krishna Sandhana", aero-adventure sports, tug-of-war, wall climbing and much more.
Mysore has always played host to a range of celebratory activities such as the Dasara cycle competition, Women's Dussehra, Adventure Yoga, Performance by District Professional Artists' Association, Mandolin and Dwandva Violin performances, Odissi Dance and Bharatanatya performances.
Also, water sports competitions, Shehnai performances, Children's Dasara, Farmer's Dasara Procession, Apiculture state-level workshop, mass Surya Namaskara, state-level cow milking competition, cooking competition, sxophone performance, dance performance by the Dumb & Deaf Teachers' Training Center, grain recognizing competition, Bendre Dance performance, Indian flower art competition, and so on.
The detailed schedule of programmes from 30 September to 4 October, when the celebrations conclude, has been listed in the official website of Mysore Dussehra 2014 and colourful photos can be viewed at the gallery.
Watch below "Janatha Savari - Mysore Dasara 2014", a video compilation of messages and greetings of Dussehra from Mysore public and tourists.