A coin minted during the rule of Tipu Sultan representing the Mysore Elephant.
Mysore Dasara procession
Mysore Dasara () is the Nadahabba (state-festival) of the state of Karnataka. It is also called Navaratri (Nava-ratri = nine-nights) and is a 10-day festival with the last day being Vijayadashami, the most auspicious day of Dasara. Dasara usually falls in the month of September or October. According to a legend, Vijayadashami denotes the victory of truth over evil and was the day when the Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura is the demon from whose name; the name Mysore has been derived. The city of Mysore has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival and the festivities there are an elaborate affair, attracting a large audience including foreigners. The Dasara festival completed 400th anniversary in year 2010.
The Dasara festivities were first started by the Vijayanagar Kings in 15th Century, after the fall of Vijayanagar Kingdom, The Wodeyar's of Mysore continued the Dasara Festival by, Raja Wodeyar I (1578-1617 CE) in the year 1610 at Srirangapatna. The Mysore Palace is lit up on all the 10 days of Dasara. The festivities begin with the Wodeyar royal couple performing a special puja to Goddess Chamundeshwari in the Chamundi Temple located on the top of Chamundi Hill at Mysore. This would be followed by a special durbar (royal assembly). It was during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in the year 1805, when the king started the tradition of having a special durbar in the Mysore Palace during Dasara; which was attended by members of the royal family, special invitees, officials and the masses. This tradition has been continued even now with the current scion of the Wodeyar family, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar holding a private durbar during Dasara. The ninth day of Dasara called as Mahanavami is also an auspicious day on which the royal sword is worshipped and is taken on a procession involving elephants, camels and horses.
On Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jumboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore city. The main attraction of this procession is the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari which is placed on a golden mantapa on the top of a decorated elephant. This idol is worshipped by the royal couple and other invitees before it is taken around in the procession. Colourful tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels form a part of the procession which starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantap where the banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped. According to a legend of the Mahabharata, banni tree was used by the Pandavas to hide their arms during their one-year period of Agnatavasa (living life incognito). Before undertaking any warfare, the kings traditionally worshipped this tree to help them emerge victorious in the war. The Dasara festivities would culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with an event held in the grounds at Bannimantap called as Panjina Kavayatthu (torch-light parade).
In Mysore, India Vijayadashami Elephant procession during Mysore Dasara is called as as Jumbo Savari (referred to as Jumbo Savari by the British during their control of Mysore State). The original name to this procession is Jumbi Savari (going to the Banni (Shami) tree). Now Goddess Chamundeshwari is taken in procession on an Elephant. But the "Jumbo" name is still intact.
Another major attraction during Dasara is the Dasara exhibition which is held in the exhibition grounds opposite to the Mysore Palace. The exhibition was started by the Maharaja of Mysore Chamaraja Wodeyar X in 1880 with the sole aim of introducing timely developments to the people of Mysore. The task of holding the exhibition is now entrusted with the Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA). This exhibition starts during Dasara and goes on till December. Various stalls which sell items like clothes, plastic items, kitchenware, cosmetics and eatables are set up and they attract a significant number of people. A play area containing attractions like Ferris wheel is also present to provide entertainment to the people. Various Governmental agencies setup stalls to signify the achievements and projects that they have undertaken.
In the year 1981 Karnataka Exhibition Authority was constituted to organise the exhibition besides looking into the proposed construction of Karnataka Kalamandira, Vishwa Kannada Sammelana guest house and shopping complex. The construction of afore said buildings were completed in 1985 and were handed over to Kannada and Culture Department and PWD Department respectively following the government order on April 1, 1989. The task of conducting Dasara exhibition was entrusted to Karnataka Exhibition Authority in 1987. From 1987 to 1993 the exhibition was conducted under the banner of Information, Tourism and Youth Affairs Departments, and from 1994 to 2003 under the banner of Kannada and Culture, Information and Tourism Departments.
On all the 10 days of Dasara, various music and dance concerts are held in auditoriums around Mysore city. Musicians and dance groups from all over India are invited to perform on this occasion. Another attraction during Dasara is the Kusti Spardhe (wrestling-bout) which attracts wrestlers from all around India 2011 Dasara celebration was inaugurated by Sri Pejavara Swamiji. It is a 9-day celebration.