As India celebrates the auspicious festival of Dussehra, people across the nation are enjoying the festival by visiting places best known for burning effigies of Ravana along with his brother Kumbhkaran and his son Meghnath. Vijayadashami, which is the festival of celebrating the victory of good over evil, is practiced in multi-cultural ways in different states of India. One of the place in the country which is known for its unique Dussehra celebrations is the Kullu valley in Himachal Pradesh, as celebrations are grand here.
Kullu Dussehra was declared an international event in 1972 and is witnessed by around 4-5 Lac people across the globe. Kullu Dussehra is the renowned International Mega Dussehra festival observed in the month of October in the north Indian state.
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 international festival to the Kullu Dussehra, which attracts tourists in large numbers.
Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of Navratri which is on Vijay Dashmi day, around the month of October according to the Gregorian calendar. Kullu Dussehra is slightly different because its celebrations begin when the rest of the country closes the nine-day long festival. This year, the festival will commence from September 30, 2017, and will continue for seven days. Dussehra in Kullu is a week-long festival, which is famous for its large number of visitors and grand celebrations.
This legendary festival has various myths, stories and anecdotes attached; each tale beautifully capturing the symbolic importance of the festival. There are two varying legends attached to the grand festival of Kullu Dussehra. The first one goes something like this. Maharishi Jamdagni, while returning from Kailash carried a basket with images of eighteen different Gods. While he was crossing the Chanderkhani pass, a fierce storm scattered all the images across the Kullu valley and the people living in these hills saw these images taking forms of Gods. Thus, this beautiful place came to be known as the “Valley of Gods”. And this is why the people living worship these scattered images with great pomp and show.
Kullu Dussehra is yet another most-sought after Dussehra celebration in India. However, instead of burning the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarana and Meghnada, the locals perform Lanka-Dahan by burning a consortium of dry leaves and twigs. In rest of the country, Dussehra marks the end of celebration of Navratri, but in Kullu the festivities begin with Dussehra.
The main attractions of Kullu Dussehra are the dances performed on the beats of dhadaks and notes of Narsingha trumpets.