Mysuru: Amid the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, the famous 10-day Dasara festival commenced here on Saturday with religious fervour but sans the grandeur.
Dasara is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by the people of Karnataka after Ugadi and it is considered as 'Nada Habba' (state festival).
The festivities began with Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, Bengaluru, Director Dr C.N. Manjunath, who is chief guest for Dasara and Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa showering flowers on the idol of goddess Chamundeshwari, the presiding deity of Mysuru royals, atop Chamundi Hill.
The state government annually invites a leading personality from various fields to kickstart Dasara festivities. This year, the state government chose Dr Manjunath, who is also the nodal officer for COVID-19 testing for Dasara inauguration, in recognition of the service of doctors and frontline COVID-19 warriors.
Dr Manjunath who is the son-in-law of former prime minister Deve Gowda, has also earned his place not just because he comes from a very highly influential family, but among poor people as a "good natured doctor" and "people's doctor".
Along with Dr Manjunath, the state government has also picked six Covid warriors who were also honoured at the ceremony to recognise their service in the fight against the pandemic.
With Mysuru registering a large number of cases ever since the pandemic broke out, the state government had been emphasising more on strict enforcement of SOPs for controlling the spread of virus and to mark safe Dasara.
With COVID-19 pandemic casting a shadow, the government had decided to organise the 410th Dasara festivities in a "subdued" manner, by restricting it to keep up with the traditions.
The 10-day event that every year showcases Karnataka's cultural heritage resplendent with folk art forms, and attracts large crowds and tourists, has been scaled down this time due to the pandemic.
The Mysuru administration has restricted people at most of the events and has arranged for live telecasts.
The elephant procession "Jumbo Savari" carrying the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari placed in a golden Howdah on Vijayadashmi or the 10th day of the festival, which marks the culmination of celebrations on October 26, has been restricted to the palace premises.
At the palace too, the royal family has decided to hold the celebrations in a simple way with select gathering, due to the pandemic.
The Navaratri celebrations at the palace include several rituals, most remarkably Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the scion of Mysuru royal family, dressed in grand attire, conducting Khasagi Durbar (private durbar) by ascending the golden throne, amid chanting of Vedic hymns.
The royal palace and several parts of Mysuru city will be illuminated with thousands of bulbs glowing during the evenings, all through the festival.
Dasara was celebrated by the rulers of the Vijayanagar empire and the tradition was inherited by the Wadiyars.
Festivities were first started in Mysuru by the Wadiyar King, Raja Wadiyar I in the year 1610.
However, with the abolition of the institution of the kings and privy purse, the state government took over the mantle of celebrating Dasara.
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