Kannada, Kannadiga, Kannadigaru, Karnataka,

Kannadigarella ondaagi Kannadavannu ulisona, kalisona and belesona

MYSORE — THE CITY OF NITYOTSAVA

MYSORE — THE CITY OF NITYOTSAVA

Mysore is not only a city of lights. It is a Nityotsava city, a city where a number of festivals and festivities are celebrated all round the year. The crowning glory of them all is the Dasara festivity. It seems as though all others lead to this ‘mother of all festivities.’ A significant feature of these is the fact that people of all communities, irrespective of their social status, participated in them and shared the joys with others.

The year begins on a happy note of Sankranthi or Uttara-yana Punyakala, when the sun is supposed to turn around and begin his northward journey. Scholars may opine that the real Uttarayana begins on some other day. The common folk are not mindful of all those niceties. When there is a conflict between belief and truth, belief wins, whether it is right or wrong is unimportant.

Harvest season

Sankranthi is supposed to usher the people into the new year. The harvest season is just over. It is the beginning of bright sunshine. The people celeb-rate the festival at home, prepare special eatables and exc-hange them with one another.

All those who own cattle wash them, apply attractive colours to the horns and hoofs and feed them sumptuously. In the evening, when the sun is setting in the west with bright red eyes and multi-coloured feathers, a long line of fire is created before the Palace. The cattle are driven towards the fire and made to cross it. Thousands of people gather before the Palace to witness this bonfire. I don’t think anybody has taken photographs of this scene. If wide publicity is given to this celebration, it is possible to attract more crowds.

Rathasapthami

The next big occasion is Rathasapthami. The sun continues his northward journey on his golden chariot. Early in the morning the temple deities are beautifully dressed and decorated with flowers and ornaments and taken in processions on chariots. They all assemble along the road before the Palace and continue their journey. A joyous part of this celebration is that boys and girls install idols on small chariots and draw them in front of the Palace.

One may or may not believe in God. But we have the right to be happy and joyful. One who generates joy worships God thereby. Wise people indulge in this, says the Bhagavadgita. If there is God we should exist here! Needless to say that this also attracts huge crowds.

Kama festival

Kamadahana (Holi) is another occasion which the people observe in large numbers. In olden days young people would go from house to house heralding the arrival of Kama festival. Their rhythmic song was very pleasing: Kama has come. Bhima has to part with money. If you have no money, never mind. You may give us old things, mats, sieves, broom sticks and so on.

It is an occasion for cleaning the homes, by getting rid of old things. The young people thankfully collect these and also money, if you are blessed to give and carry the other things to big square or circle in the city. They fill them in an attractive way like a tower. In the evening they go in a procession along the main roads and gather round the pile of old things. A unique feature of this celebration in olden days was that both Hindus and Muslims were participating in the procession. They both were dressed like tigers and were dancing to the chorus of others surrounding them.

Bonfire

Finally, they would set fire to the pile of garbage and make a bonfire and dance round it, singing bawdy songs. They would sprinkle coloured water on one another. Kite-flying and Ganesha festival are also celebrated in the city in other places.

Mohurram was an occasion when Hindus would reciprocate the fine sentiments expressed by Muslims by participating in the Kama festival. They would act like tigers, side by side with Muslims, in the procession. Mysore is a city where Hindus and Muslims lived together amicably over the years.

Krishna Jayanthi literally announces the arrival of Dasara occurring just about a month before Navarathri, its celebration was veritably like a mini-Dasara. Krishna’s idol is taken out in a procession within the four walls of the Palace fort.

In good old days it was a dress-rehearsal of the Dasara procession. If Jumboo Savari is for a day, the Krishna procession is taken out daily in the evenings for about eight or ten days. If the Maharaja was the cynosure of all eyes in the Dasara procession, Krishna is here the hero. His boyhood leelas (adventures) like slaying Puthani, shattering the cart-demon or Shakabasura subduing the wild Kalinga snake, His pranks with Gopikas and so on.

While the Dasara procession is on a big scale, this is on a small scale, but more enchanting. The fairly long winding procession had also elep-hants, camels, Palace cow (quite a large number) and people dressed in colourful robes and dancing to the sweet tune of Nagaswara. A large number of dedicated devotees would follow the procession dancing and singing songs in praise of Lord Krishna and distributing milk to the assembled people. Lady employees of the Palace, and others, dressed as damsels of Gokula accompanied the procession adding glamour to devotion. The quiet bea-uty of the procession is a sight for Gods to see their own dear idol heading the procession.

Joy-ride

If an elephant were to roam in the streets today, children come out of their homes to eye it. In those days rows of elephants walking along the streets were a daily sight. Housewives were offering coconuts and jaggery to the elephants. The mahouts were kind enough to take them on to the back of the elephants so that they could have a joy-ride. The mahout would be pleased if a copper or two is offered to them.

In between these festivals and festivities, the Maharaja’s Vardhanti (birthday) would arrive. The Maharaja, dressed in attractive robes, with turban, would go in a procession rid-ing a horse, with modest pomp and pageantry. Navaratri dur-bar and procession as a finale to the festivities need not be described here. The University Convocation with the Maharaja presiding, proceeded and followed by a small proce-ssion, was another attraction. The car festival of Chamundi attracts huge crowds.

Deepavali, the festival of lights, is followed by long darkness. Andhakasura is the villain, who else can slay him, if not Parameswara? If these festivities could be spruced up and presented to bigger crowds, the glory of Mysore can be publicised.

– HSK

http://www.starofmysore.com/main.asp?type=specialnews&item=2871

December 21, 2007 - Posted by | EKAVI MYSORE

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