The famous 10-day long Dasara festivities commenced in this palace city of Mysuru on Saturday with religious fervour, amid the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic. Incidentally, a notification on the closure of tourist places in Mysuru from October 17 to November 1 issued by Mysuru Deputy Commissioner was overruled by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. This withdrawal of notification was announced by Mysuru-district-in-charge Minister ST Somasekhar.
Celebrated as 'Nada Habba' (state festival), the festivities began with Dr CN Manjunath, Director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, Bengaluru and Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa showering flowers on the idol of goddess Chamundeshwari, the presiding deity of Mysuru royals, atop Chamundi Hill.
Dr Manjunath, who is also the nodal officer for COVID-19 testing was chosen for Dasara inauguration, in recognition of the service of doctors and front line COVID-19 warriors. Six coronavirus warriors were also honoured at the inaugural to recognise their service in the fight against the pandemic.
With COVID-19 pandemic casting a shadow, the government had decided to organise the 410th Dasara festivities in a "simple" way, by and large restricting it to keep up with the traditions.
The 10-day event that every year showcases Karnataka's cultural heritage resplendent with folk art forms, and attracts large crowds and tourists, has been scaled down this time due to COVID-19.
The Mysuru administration has restricted people at most of the events and has made arrangements for live telecasts. With Mysuru reporting a large number of cases, the focus is on strict enforcement of SOPs for controlling the spread of the virus and to mark safe Dasara.
'Jumbo Sawari' or the procession of well-decorated elephants carrying the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari placed in a golden Howdah on Vijayadashmi or the 10th day of the festival, which marks the culmination of celebrations on October 26, has been restricted to the palace premises.
At the palace too, the royal family has decided to hold the celebrations in a simple way with select gathering, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Navaratri celebrations at the palace include several rituals, most remarkably Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the scion of Mysuru royal family, dressed in grand attire, conducting Khasagi durbar (private durbar) by ascending the golden throne, amid chanting vedic hymns.
The royal palace and several parts of Mysuru city will be illuminated with thousands of bulbs glowing during the evenings, all through the festival.
Dasara was celebrated by the rulers of the Vijayanagar empire and the tradition was inherited by the Wadiyars. Festivities were first started in Mysuru by the Wadiyar King, Raja Wadiyar I in the year 1610. However, with the abolition of the institution of the kings and the announcement of privy purses, the state government took over the mantle of celebrating Dasara.