Kullu Dussehra: Let’s know the festival of God’s better
Kullu Dussehra is the renowned International Mega Dussehra festival observed in the month of October in Himachal Pradesh state in northern India. Wherein more than 1 to 1.5 lac people visit the fair from all across the Globe. The population in Kullu Dussehra is approximately 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh. It is celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan in the Kullu valley. Dussehra at Kullu commences on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on ‘Vijay Dashmi’ day itself and continues for seven days. Its history dates back to the 17th century when local King Jagat Singh installed an idol of Raghunath on his throne as a mark of penance. After this, god Raghunath was declared as the ruling deity of the Valley. The State government has accorded the status of an International festival to the Kullu Dussehra, which attracts tourists in large numbers
The Lord Raghunath Idol was brought in Kullu in 1651
In the 16th Century, Raja Jagat Singh ruled over the prosperous and beautiful kingdom of Kullu. As the ruler, the Raja came to know of a peasant by the name of Durgadatta who apparently possessed many beautiful pearls. The Raja thought he should have these treasured pearls, even though the only pearls Durgadatta had were pearls of Knowledge. But the Raja in his greed ordered Durgadatta to hand over his pearls or be hanged. Knowing of his inevitable fate at the hands of the king, Durgadatta threw himself on the fire and cursed the king, “Whenever you eat, your rice will appear as worms, and water will appear as blood”. Doomed by his fate, the Raja sought solace and searched out advice from a Brahmin. The Holy man told him that in order to eradicate the curse, he must retrieve the deity of Ragunath from Raam’s kingdom. Desperate, the king sent a Brahmin to Ayodhya. One fine day the Brahmin stole the deity and set out on his journey back to Kullu. The people of Ayodhya, finding their beloved Ragunath missing, set out in search of the Kullu Brahmin. On the banks of the Saryu river, they approached the Brahmin and asked him why he had taken Raghunath. The Brahmin recounted the story of the Kullu king. The people of Ayodhya attempted to lift Ragunath, but their deity became incredibly heavy when headed back towards Ayodhya, and became very light when headed to Kullu. On reaching Kullu Ragunath was installed as the reigning deity of the Kullu kingdom. After installing the deity of Ragunath, Raja Jagat Singh drank the Charan-Amrit of the deity and the curse was lifted. Jagat Singh became Lord Ragunath’s regent. The idol brought from Ayodhya was placed at different places (Makarsa, Manikaran, Vashishth, Haripur to name a few) before it was finally installed at Sultanpur in 1651.
It is celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan in the Kullu valley. Dussehra at Kullu commences on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on ‘Vijay Dashmi’ day itself and continues for seven days.
While the rest of India celebrates Dussehra after the 9 days of Navratri are over, Kullu Dussehra is different, it commences on the 10th day itself unlike anywhere else.
In first 15 days of the Hindu calendar month of Aswin, the king invites all devtas to come forward for a yagya in honour of the Lord Ragunath ji. More than 100 Gods come in their beautiful palanquin. This invitation to the festival is to be treated like a Royal Command and ‘absentees’ were penalized by the Royal deity. Hundreds of Gods are brought on the temple grounds on the day of Dussehra, including Hadimba (the prime deity of the Kullu kings) and Jamlu Rishi(the deity of Malana village) among others.
The Rath Yatra
Finally, when Devi Hidimba has arrived, the King Deity is surrounded by hundreds of devtas in their decorated palanquins, everybody waits for the flag signal from Bhekhli Temple located atop a hill overlooking the Dhalpur ground, with bated breath. A saffron flag is waved from Bhekhli Temple and the much-awaited signals from heavens mark the beginning of Rath Yatra of the King Deity.
The Royal assembly
Matters related to land rights, territorial disputes were discussed in the Royal Assembly held on the sixth day of the festival.
The procession (jaleb) observed a fixed pattern of deities occupying the space around the chief deity. Whenever this fixed pattern was disturbed, skirmishes were inevitable. The immediate left and right positions to Lord Raghunath have often remained a bone of contention.
Territorial disputes and supremacy battles have often led to devtas boycotting the festival as a mark of protest. Once a dispute lasted 11 years when Shringa Rishi, the presiding deity of Banjar Valley, withdrew from the festival. The immediate right position is called dhur, which is known to have occupied by Shringa Rishi since long. On the other hand, Balu Nag, believed to be the incarnation of Lakshman, claims to be the rightful heir of the dhur position.
In 2014, it was for the first time that Kullu Dussehra ended with no animal sacrifice.
A month before 2014 Kullu Dussehra, Himachal Pradesh High Court banned the practice of animal sacrifice. Though, Dev Samaj, a body of caretakers of local deities, had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court but did not get any relief as the case came up for hearing on Wednesday ( after the festival) leaving no option for the oracles and caretakers to abide by the HC order.
The world record natti
Mega Kullu “Nati”, phrased as “Pride of Kullu”, which was conducted during the Kullu Dasehra on October 26, 2015, had made it to the Guinness World Records Book.event was organised under the aegis of “Beti Hai Anmol” and mostly females participated in the mega “Nati”. Then DC Mr Kanwar revealed that though around 13,000 women had participated in the event, only 9,892 were registered by the authorities. The event also made it to the Limca records book by registering 8,540 participants in Kullu Dasehra Festival 2014.
The Stolen Idol
In December 2014, when the idol of Lord Raghunath was stolen from the temple within Maheshwar Singh’s residence, the entire valley was desolate. For whom would the gods gather on Dussehra now? Happily, though, the idol was found soon after, and the thief caught.
No dummy of Ravana is burnt
Unlike rest of India, no Ravana dummy is burnt here. On the last day, a pile of wood is collected and devotees put fire to it; the practice is symbolic of destroying and burning the home of Ravana, Lanka.
Nari Garima 2018
Though it already holds a Guinness world record for the greatest number of people performing Natti together, in 2018, at 11 AM on 23rd Of Oct, a lot of 3500 Kullu women will do Kullavi Maha Natti. The administration has started ‘Nari Garima’ initiative to end the hardline discriminatory practices against women.
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