Kullu Dussehra begins

November 14th, 2007 - 2:41 am ICT by admin  
Kullu, Oct.22 (ANI): As the Dussehra festival was celebrated across the country on Sunday with the burning of the effigies of demon King Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and his son Meghnath, people in Himachal have begun celebrating the week-long Kullu Dussehra.

Tens of thousands of people congregate in Kullu to participate in the event.

Kullu’s royal Pal family, dressed in their finest, perform the rituals associated with the festival that is marked by traditional dances and massive processions.

Kullu Dussehra dates back to the 17th century when the local King Jaganand installed an idol of Raghunath (Lord Rama) on his throne as an act of penance, after which the Lord Raghunatha came to be known as the ruling deity of the valley.

“Ravana was vanquished on a full moon night. There used to be a time when Dussehra would finish on the full moon night. During British times, it was agreed to have a seven-day event,” said Maheshwar Singh, a descendent of Kullu’s erstwhile royal family.

Over 250 to 300 deities are said to descend from their temples to pay obeisance to Lord Raghunatha, the presiding deity of the Kullu Dussehra. Idols of these deities are brought from different parts of Kullu and adjoining Mandi District and are kept at a camp at Dhalpur area. And, the people who carry the deities here also camp along with them.

These people are then formally invited to come for the Dussehra festivities by the State Government, which pays them an incentive which range from Rs.10, 000 to Rs.70, 000.

The grand festival also draws a lot of tourists.

“It’s very different. We have rituals too but you know they are… and we have big rituals. But I think all the people here are more (involved) with the rituals than in our country. There is more distance between ritual and feelings there,” said Beatrix, an Austrian tourist.

In 1972, the Kullu Dussehra was declared an “international festival”. Since then it has assumed a multi-lingual dimension and cultural troupes from abroad and various parts of the country also perform during the festival.

The festival, which symbolises the triumph of good over evil, is marked by prayers, processions and musical programmes based on the Ramayana.

The week-long Kullu Dussehra festival concludes with the sacrifice of a buffalo, a rooster, a lamb, a fish and a crab. Simultaneously, a huge pile of grass is set on fire symbolising the burning of Lanka, the kingdom of Ravana. (ANI)

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