Celebrate Dusshera in Kullu

This is the land of the gods and goddess, the city of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh comes alive and starts bustling with the divine fervour and ardent devotion with the commencement of a seven day long International festival of Dussehra. At the very mention of the name of Kullu, on the wings of our imagination, we are magically transported into the lush green landscape of snowcapped, lofty mountains, verdant valleys, meandering rivers, sounding cataracts, breathtaking dense groves and captivating meadows. However, the region of Kullu valley has also gained worldwide recognition on account of its splendiferous International festival of Dussehra, which can aptly be designated as the Summit of Cultures. In this confluence of indigenous cultures, a vast multitude of the spectators from all across of the globe congregate at the local Dhalpur Maidan near the city bus stand to have their audience with a host of gods and goddesses. Every year the estimated footfall is more than five lakhs now.

Dwelling on the genesis of Kullu Dussehra, a popular mythological version associates it with the king Jagat Singh, who was the ruler of the region in the 17th century. It is believed that the king unintentionally becomes the cause of a Brahmin priest and his family's death. Thereon, in order to expiate for his sin, the king abdicates his throne and surrenders it ceremoniously to Lord Raghunath by putting his idol on the royal seat. The king dispatches his minister all the way to the city of Ayodhya, the birthplace of Rama, to fetch the idol of lord Raghunath. On his minister's arrival back to Kullu with the pious idol, the autocratic monarch takes a vow to become the viceroy of the lord and proclaims that thereafter only the lord and his successors will rule the Kingdom of Kullu. As the legend goes, Lord Raghunath sends his cordial invitation to many other gods from heaven to arrive and celebrate Dussehra in Kullu.

Since then, Lord Raghunath has loomed large in the consciousness of Kullu. Amidst the mellifluous sounds of the sacred conches and beats of drums, the beginning of Dussehra festival is marked with the pulling of the artistically and aesthetically bedecked chariot of lord Raghunath along the Dhalpur ground. Devi Hadimada graces the occasion with her distinguished presence and arrives from her hallowed seat from the Hadimba Temple of Manali to join the galaxy of gods.

Jamlu Devta, the presiding deity of the village Malana, is majestically brought at the venue in his bejewelled velvety palanquin. All around one can behold to one's delight a vast glittering spectacle of elegantly decorated palanquins in which sit the multicoloured mighty gods and goddesses. Each god is as richly attired as the villagers can afford, otherwise, they believe the gods will become jealous of their counterparts and unleash their wrath on the people.

The nimble and rhythmical moves of the local 'Nati' dancers warm the cockles of every heart and roll out a red carpet welcome to the coterie of deities with utmost dedication. As the sun gives way to the moon, the festival becomes all the more enthralling with a bedazzling spectacle of fancy lights, spreading rich refulgence all around. The pallet tickling buffet of local cuisines and delicacies like 'Sidu' attract the foodies with a magnetic pull. The mellifluous notes blended with the beats of drums and Shanknad (sound emanating on blowing the conch) present a soul-soothing medley of music.

The divine bliss of Kullu Dussehra festival is really beyond imagination unless it is experienced. Its sights and sounds are unfathomable, the rituals that puzzle and perplex yet amaze and enthral. Throughout this weeklong Festival, solemnity is expressed joyously. This year the gala event will commence from October 8 and conclude on October 15.

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