The mesmerizing city of Mysore transcends one into the glorious past of the grand kingdoms of southern India. The very air of the city is filled with the rich fragrance of age-old customs, traditions and festivals. Besides being the ancient capital of the ruling clan of the region “Wodeyars”, Mysore is filled with opulent monuments and magnificent temples, which allure lakhs of tourists every year. The extravagant celebration of various festivals also adds immensely to its charm and beauty. Dasara is, indeed, celebrated here with such ostentatious revelry that people from all over the world descend upon this fabulous city to view its festivities. Other than this, the people of Mysore celebrate a wide range of festivals, details of which are elucidated in the following lines.
The festival of Dasara is celebrated with unparalleled gusto, devotion and extravagance in Mysore, since the festival holds great mythological and historical significance for the people of this city. This sacred occasion commemorates the triumph of good over evil. As per the legend prevalent in this region, it was on this day that Goddess Chamundeshwari vanquished the mighty demon Mahishasura and saved the people from his oppression and cruelty. The festivities of Dasara are celebrated for a period of 10 days. As per the auspicious Hindu calendar, it usually falls somewhere in the months of September and October. During Dasara festivities, the Amba Vilas Palace of Mysore, along with the entire city, is bedecked with glittering light bulbs. On the day of Vijayadashmi, a grand procession led by the royal family is taken out. This massive procession has many beautifully ornamented elephants, horses, folk dancers and colorful tableaus. However, the center of attraction is the elephant with a golden seat on which the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed.
As the name Deepavali itself means “rows of diyas”, illumination remains the most significant part of this festival. Deepavali, also known as Diwali, Kaumudi Deepam or Dipalika, is celebrated with great pomp and show by Hindus across the length and breadth of India. The festival, in Mysore, commemorates the mythological legend according to which a vicious demon named Narakasura was vanquished by Lord Krishna on this day. It is a festival that teaches one and all to have faith in the power of good. In Mysore, preparations for this festival commence in advance with houses and business establishments getting a fresh coat of paint and thorough cleaning. People shop for new clothes and gifts to present to near and dear ones. On the festive day, lamps and candles are lit, whereas the sound of firecrackers livens up the atmosphere of the city.
As per the Kannada tradition, Yugadi is considered the New Year’s Day. This day is observed at the end of the month of March or during the beginning of April as per the Georgian calendar. However, the exact date is finalized based on the Kannada calendar. The festivities of the day include early morning ritualistic bath, which is followed by a prayer that continues till the wee hours of the night. The preparations for this festival begin weeks in advance throughout Mysore that include people cleaning their homes and shopping for new attires. The entrances of the homes are adorned with colorful rangoli patterns and fresh mango leaves are hung over the gateways. Elaborate evening meal includes dishes made of various interesting ingredients, such as jaggery, neem leaves, tamarind juice, salt, and green pepper. All these represent various good, bad, joyous, and painful experiences of life. People of Mysore gather together on the day of the Yugadi festival to listen to Panchangam and other horoscope forecasts of the coming year.
This is a splendid religious festival which is celebrated in the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple on the fourth day of the ten-day Brahmotsava with great splendor. During this festival, devotees not just from Mysore, but throughout the country, visit this temple. On this day, Lord Cheluvarayaswamy is adorned with a diamond crown brought from the Mysore Palace. During this festival, the whole area is bedecked with lights, whereas the main shrine shimmers with thousands of lamps and candles. This festival provides one with a wonderful opportunity to experience the rich religious and cultural heritage of Karnataka.
Makar Sankranti (Pongal)
This festival is celebrated with fervor every year in the month of January in Mysore and all of Karnataka, Maharashtra and some parts of Andhra Pradesh. The day marks the celestial ascent of the sun towards the north. This phenomenon is traditionally known as Uttarayana. This is also a major harvest festival that celebrates prosperity and spring. People are in very congenial mood on this day and embrace family as well as friends with pure hearts and all bygone hurts as well as misunderstandings are forgotten. The localites distribute sesame ladoos and sugar drops as a sign of kindness for one and all. Various religious rituals are also observed on this day to appease various deities. On this day, women don vibrant new attire, paired with matching decorative glass bangles, and organize get-togethers to exchange sweets and gifts. Another interesting tradition followed on this day includes gifting of sugar-drop ornaments to the new brides, while her new relatives organize haldi kumkum ceremony to welcome her into the new family.