Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kullu Dussehra: The festive week begins


Celebration of the traditional Dussehra festival started off in Kullu on Sunday, with Governor Urmila Singh inaugurating the international-level festival by participating in the Rath Yatra of Lord Raghunath at Dhalpur ground.

The weeklong festival observes the centuries-old tradition where about 200 local deities from across the district and neighbouring districts are brought to the festival ground in decorated palanquins.

Records in the historical documents and old scriptures show the festival has been organised in the same manner since 1660.

In a statement released on Sunday, an official spokesperson of the state government said additional attractions had been added to the celebrations, such as cultural performances by local and international troupes, over the years.

Speaking on the occasion, Urmila Singh stressed upon the need to preserve the culture of Himachal, which had emerged as one of the major religious tourism destinations in the country.

Kullu Dussehra attracts a lot of foreign tourists to the valley.

The continuing superiority tussle between the followers of two local deities — Shringa Rishi and Balu Nag — over the order in which they will get positions during the celebration processions has added a dramatic twist to the festival for the last two years.

The rivalry dates back to 1970s and the government has been unable to end the discord.

The festival acts as a platform for deities to display their power, through their followers.

Traditionally, the palanquin and idol of the superior deity is carried on right side of the chariot of Lord Raghunath (Lord Ram) on the opening and closing day of the festivities. And this is the subject of dispute between the two deities — Shringa Rishi, who was Lord Ram's teacher, and Balu Nag, who is considered an incarnation of Lord Ram's brother Lakshman.

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