Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lord Rama’s chariot rolls out, weeklong Kullu Dussehra begins

KULLU: With ending of Dussehra festival across the country on Vijayadashmi after burning effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath, a weeklong historic Dussehra has begun in Kullu with rolling out of the chariot of Raghunath (lord Rama) to the Dhalpur Dussehra ground on Wednesday. All other deities paid their obeisance to lord Raghunath who is the presiding deity of the festivity.
Kullu Dussehra
Palanquins of over 225 deities along with their thousands of followers are taking part in the festivity. Lakhs of people including tourists flocked to pull the chariot as they have an immense belief that pulling or just touching the holy ropes brings them prosperity and blessings. Police had a tough time negotiating with the devotees imbued with devotion. According to the tradition, palanquin of Goddess Hadimba and Bijli Mahadev scattered the crowd and made way for chariot. Chariot would rest in the lower ground till the seventh day when it would be again wheeled to the bank of river Beas where some shrubs would be burnt as symbol of burning of the Lanka. But unlike other places, no effigies are burnt here.
Thousands of domestic and international tourists throng Kullu Dussehra to witness the unique blend of culture, tradition and devotion. A group of students from England had reached here for research and capture the Dussehra. The group leader, Chadwick, said, “We are staying in Shimla but we reached here to see the Dussehra. Our experience is unexplainable. Students have got lots to explore and understand the Indian culture.”
Ramanuj Rai, another tourist from Karnataka said he had never seen so many deities together ever in his life. “People here have strong faith in their own deity but respect the others. The modernization has no effect on the cultural faith of hill people. Most of the palanquins are identical but I’m trying to capture as much as I can in my camera,” he added.
Royal family of Kullu
Royal family of Kullu -- Maheshwar Singh and family -- was dressed in their traditional royal attire to perform the rituals associated with the Dussehra. Every year, palanquins of hundreds of deities are brought from different parts of state and they stay in camp around the festival place for seven days which remains the attraction for devotees and tourists.
Also, the cultural programs started at Lal Chand Prarthi Kala Kendra of Kullu where several artists from various countries would perform for seven days. For its uniqueness, Kullu Dussehra was declared an international festival in 1972. Dussehra festival, which conveys the message of victory of good over evil, is marked by gathering of deities, their prayers, processions and cultural programs, not by burning effigies.
Dussehra celebrations in Kullu started in the year of 1661 during the reign of the then ruler Raja Jagat Singh. Since then, idols of hundreds of deities from different parts of Kullu gather here and celebrate for a week. Dussehra is an important event for local residents as they do lots of shopping to tackle the winters.

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