Dasara turns 400 this year

The grand celebrations was started by Raja Wadiyar in 1610
Last Updated 18 September 2010, 17:26 IST

It was exactly four centuries ago, the then ruler Raja Wadiyar started ‘Navarathri Utsava’ in 1610, besides acquiring the throne (earlier made of fig tree that later saw many modifications, finally adding gold covering now displayed at the Palace during Dasara).

Till then the Vijayanagar rulers were celebrating the festival. Soon after defeating Srirangaraya, the ‘Mandaladheeshwara’ (governor) of Srirangapatna owing allegiance to Vijayanagar empire, Raja Wadiyar who was ‘samantha dore’ (king paying royalty to them) took over the reins of Srirangapatna.

He also shifted the capital from Mysore to Srirangapatna. Raja Wadiyar who was also a witness to Dasara celebrated with all grandeur by Vijayanagar rulers decided to continue it. Thus began Dasara festival under the banner of Mysore Wadiyars. Barring a few occasions, where ‘Navarathri’ was restricted to the precincts of the Palace due to some reasons, the festival has become an integral part of the masses, making it ‘Naada Habba’.

Low-key affair

Historian Prof P V Nanjaraj Urs told Deccan Herald, Dasara was a low-key affair between 1777 to 1779 till the fall of Tipu Sultan. Except these two years in the past and also in the following years owing to few reasons, the festival has been attracting huge number of people with every passing year. However, no major changes have been undertaken without losing its charm.

The only  change was that of golden throne. During the reign of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar the throne had only five steps to climb, and that was increased to seven during the rule of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar. Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, 25th and last ruler of then Mysore State, extended the seating portion, besides ordering for writing the significance of ‘yaduvamsha’ the royal lineage.

Even now, a silver plaque bearing the lineage is affixed to the throne. Keeping alive the legacy inherited from his ancestors, royal scion Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar ascends the throne to conduct ‘khasgi durbar’ (private durbar) for nine days.

The speciality of the throne is; it is detachable at parts. The steps, umbrella and also ‘peetha’ (the central portion) are removed and fixed every year on auspicious occasion. The throne is also kept for public view during that period and it is the only time, one does have the privilege of savouring its royal attraction.

(Published 18 September 2010, 17:26 IST)

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