Fabulous celebration of a major Hindu festival, with beautifully decorated elephants and other colourful participants.
Every year at the end of September or early October Mysore celebrates the Dasara Festival, also called Dussehra in other parts of India. This major Hindu festival recalls the killing of the demon Ravana by Lord Rama, or the victory of the Goddess Chamundeshwari over the demon Mahishasur, many different mythologies all essentially related to good prevailing over evil.
Although other areas celebrate Dasara, nowhere is this done as vigorously as in Mysore. The palace and other buildings in the city are lit, and in various places food festivals, music and dance, film, poetry and other cultural and sports programs are organized. But the absolute highlight is the parade on the last day, a display of caparisoned elephants accompanied by dance troupes, music bands and a whole range of other colourful elements. The roads are lined with stands, and those who can’t find a seat, find any other place to witness the spectacle.
In true Indian fashion, police with long wooden sticks ensure that the order is maintained, and they do not restrain themselves if they think individual spectators infringe on the part of the street that is reserved for the parade. In many countries their behaviour would be classified as police brutality, but here everybody accepts the occasional bash-up, which certainly does nothing to diminish the overall celebratory atmosphere.
If you plan to visit Mysore, make sure you do it during the end of Dasara!