Dussera Festival Season in Karnataka


Read this article to know about the Dussera festival, one of the important festivals of Karnataka. It is very important to us because it is connected with the deity of our State, Sree Chamundeswari Devi. The festival is more religious than social unlike the other festivals. Read on to know the essence of the festival, the legends about the festival and the various aspects of the festival.

Festivals in General

Festivals of India

Throughout our country the festival season falls between the periods from late August to early November. Most of the Major festivals fall within this period. All these festivals come one after the other. Karnataka is no exception to this. Except for one or two festivals like the Ugadi all others fall within the period mentioned. The festivals start with the Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesha Habba, Navarathri (Durga Pooja – Dussera – Saraswathi Pooja – Ayudha Pooja) and the Deepawali. Most of these are celebrated to mark some victory or other b y the good over the evils, by the light over the darkness. The Krishna Janmashtami and the Ganesha Chathurthi festivals are just over and we have entered the festivity of Navarathri, the longest festival celebrated by us for 9 nights and 10 days. Next is the major festival Deepawali. The probable reason for the major traditional festivals occurring during this particular period may be due to the reason that our country being a predominantly agriculture county celebrations will take place around or after the main harvest season. In the olden days there used to be only one crop. Due to the increase in population, reduction in available agricultural land for cultivation, improvement in technology etc the one crop was converted as twice and now it is about 3 or 4 crops. For the agriculturists the happiest period will be after a good harvest. Anyway there are legends about the reasons for the celebrations of the festival concerned. Let us consider them.

Legends About Dussera


Since this article is about the Dussera festival, we will consider about the Dussera festival.

Dussera Celebration on Victory of Sri Rama over Ravana

RamlilaOne of the legends is connected with the Ramayana. All of us know the portion where kaikeyi forced Dasaratha to send Sri Rama to exile so that her son Bharatha can become the king of Ayodhya. To honour the word of his father, Sri Rama went to the forest accompanied by his wife Sitha and brother Lakshmanan. During the period of stay in the forest, Ravana the Demon king of Lanka abducted Sitha and took her to Lanka. When Rama came to know of the abduction by Ravana, a battle was waged against Ravana with the help of the Vanara army. Sri Rama won the war against Ravana, killing Ravana in the battle. According to this legend Dussera is celebrated of the defeat of the demon by Sri Rama. This legend is popular in North India.


Dussera Celebration of Victory of Durga Devi over Mahishasura


MahishamardhiniThis is popular legend in our State. Mahishasura (buffalo headed demon) was an asura who was tormenting everyone including the gods. Since he had boon that he cannot be defeated by any male of human, demon or god races, the gods had to find out a way. Then they hit upon the idea of creating a female deity and give the powers and weapons of all the major gods so that she can fight and vanquish Mahishasura. In a fight between the demons headed by Mahishasura and the gods lasting for about 9 days, Mahishasura was killed and in commemoration of this victory the Navarathri - Dussera is being celebrated.


Celebration Part of Dussera


Navarathri is celebrated in different ways in different part of the country. For us in Karnataka the 9 nights and 10 days are a religious cum social festival. The ladies celebrate this festival more than the males. Every house will be doing special worship of the goddesses of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi – the goddesses of sakti (power), prosperity and knowledge respectively. The ladies observe vratha by observing partial fast and avoiding the main staple food with some other substitution etc. Every house special Pooja will be conducted at least in the morning and evening. In some houses there will be a Pooja in the noon also. The last three days of the festival is most important. During these three days all members of the families and all members of the business, trade and industry will take part in the celebrations. This part of the celebration is known as the Ayudha Pooja. Ayudha Pooja means worship of the weapons. In the beginning centuries back, people were living on animals like goats, cows before the agriculture became more important than the dependence on cows or buffalos. In those days people have to wander with their cattle for their fodder. Later when agriculture became the mainstay also there used to be fights over the pasture areas and later the territories etc between the various neighboring groups. The main implements at that time naturally will be weapons. During rainy season there will be usually truce. Immediately after the rainy season, the war has to start and before the war everyone will respect their weapons by cleaning and making it ready and do some poojas from Ashtami (8th day) evening to Dasami (10th day) morning. Poojas of 4 or 5 times will be done during these three days. On the 10th day, the weapons will be taken out after the final Pooja and practice of their use will be started before going to war. The essence of this is still valid. Due to the change in the conditions of life Ayudha Pooja also changed. Weapons will be kept for Pooja in the military, police and security forces etc. At other places the implements of the work, trade, industry etc will be kept for the Pooja. These may be different in different walks of life. In agriculture hoses, ploughs, yokes, spades etc will be washed cleaned and decorated with the sandal, haldi, kum kum paste etc with the paste of a\sacred ash paste. In offices, the typewriters, Computers, printers, books, pen etc will be cleaned and kept for Pooja. Similarly every other trade will keep its tools/implements after cleaning for Pooja. At homes the items will be holy books and other books of the students, laptops, computer, some kitchen items etc. will be the items for Pooja. After the Pooja on the Dasami day morning these items kept for the Pooja will be taken out and the same will be used the respective concerned persons. On all the 10 days all members of the house will take bath early in the mornings and take part in the Pooja proceedings. The Ayudha Pooja is also known as the Saraswathi Pooja, Durga Pooja in different parts.


Legend about Ayudha Pooja


It is related to the epic Mahabharata. The Pandavas had to go in exile for 13 years out of which the last year (13th) the Pandavas (5 brothers) are to spend incognito (without being able to be identified by anybody). If they are identified by anybody, the Pandavas were supposed to go in exile again 13 years. During the last year all the five kept their tools hidden in the places of their choice. Arjuna kept his weapons in the hollow portion of a Samee (Vanhi) tree. Just after the 13 year their enemies, the Kauravas got some doubt about the hiding place of the Pandavas as to be the place of the King Virada. They were not aware that the time is over. So they thought a plan to bring out the 5 brothers so that the Pandavas will be forced to go in exile for another 13 years like the one just completed. They went with an army and captured the cattle of the king Virada. From the opposite side they arranged to engage the Virada's sena (army) in fight. Since persons of warrior community (Kshatriyas) cannot be mute spectators, the Pandavas will come out of hiding if they are in Virada's place. While Bheema went with the army to fight, Arjuna with the son just entering youth and inexperienced in the war fare went to fight those who stole the cattle which included all the stalwarts of the Kauravas. Before the fight Arjuna took out his weapons and fought single handed with the stalwarts of the Kauravas, defeated them and brought back the cattle. To mark this Victory, he cleaned and kept the weapons and offered poojas to Durga Devi and took out on the Dasami day. Some people believe that his incident is the predecessor of the Ayudha Pooja being observed by all now.


Ayudha Pooja and Gombe Habba


Golu 2011During the Navarathri festival, some communities used to have the practice of keeping dolls arranged in steps. The steps will be odd in numbers like 5, 7, 9, 11 etc. depending the space available. In the earlier days the dolls used to be themes from epics like Bhagavatha, Ramayana and Devi Bhagavatha etc (of Mythological themes). The practice keeping the dolls has spread and now the doll arrangements may be found in more than 50% houses in Bengaluru. The themes also have changed. Now the themes include the social activities, modern scientific and technical models etc have come in along with the traditional themes. This will be kept in many cases from the Prathame thithi (1st day after the Mahalaya Amavasya) to Dasami. Some people keep only for 3, 5, 7 days etc. When the dolls are kept, pooja is offered at least two times in the morning and evenings with some offerings as naivedyams. Each day the neivedyam will change. The neivedyam will be distributed to all the ladies and children who will be vesting the house to see the arrangements of the dolls. On the Vijayadasami day night one or a few dolls will be kept in the lying position symbolically putting the dolls to sleep. Next day morning the dolls will be packed and kept safely for the use next year. This is also known as the 'Bomma Kolu', 'Bomma Golu'


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