This deity gets Guard of Honour every day

This deity gets Guard of Honour every day

Two policemen offer guard of honour to the deity of Chamundeshwari, atop the Chamundi Hill in Mysuru, during a special occasion. Member of the erstwhile royal family Pramoda Devi Wadiyar and chief priest Shashisekhara Dixit are seen. Credit: Photos by Special Arrangement

Guard of Honour is offered to the top executives of the nation, as mark of respect. However, a similar state honour is offered to goddess Chamundeshwari by the Police department in Mysuru, claimed as state deity, everyday.

A police personnel offers guard of honour to the deity everyday. On special occasions like mantapotsava and rathotsava two personnel perform the guard of honour. The police pay respects at 9.30 am and 8.30 pm, during mahamangalarathi, every day.

It is believed that Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, the 22 maharaja of the Yadu dynasty of the erstwhile Mysore state, who ruled between 1799 and 1868, started to offer Barjit, paying respect, to the deity. However, there is no sufficient document on why and when the guard of honour to the goddess commenced.

According to sources, the then Maharajas of Mysore started to offer daily respect, since 1799, after Tipu Sultan was killed in the Fourth Anglo Mysore War. British East India Company took indirect control of Mysore and restored the Wadiyar rule. The Kingdom of Mysore became a princely state, a subsidiary to British India.

Historians claim that there is no mention of the guard of honour to Chamundeshwari Devi in either books or official documents. Eachanur Kumar said, "There is no much supporting documents about the history of the guard of honour to the devi. Chamundeshwari devi was declared as ‘National Deity’ and Dasara was declared as ‘National festival’ in the Mysore Legislative Assembly in 1957."

After unification of Karnataka, Dasara was declared as a national festival and Chamundeshwari, also the deity of Maharaja's clan, obtained statehood because of the unification, he said.

Kumar said, "There is a need for research on the guard of honour to the goddess. I have not found any document, which has mention about the guard of honour to the deity. The Mysuru Administration report, which exist since 1868, is authentic. But, it has not mentioned about paying respect to the goddess."

"Documents such as Mysore State Handbook, Mysore Gazetteer, police manual and Police department material have not mentioned about the guard of honour. But, circulars about the pujas, others rituals conducted in the temple are available. Chamundeshwari is decorum and dignity to the state and guard of honour to it is commendable,” he said.

However, there are documents about guard of honour offered to VIPs at Mysuru Palace and Government guesthouse since the days of the Maharajas. “Guard of honour was offered to VIPs, such as guests from foreign nations or governor general, at Mysuru Palace and the same tradition is followed at Government guesthouse since 1805. The guard of honour is still in practice at the guesthouse,” he said.

According to Chamundeshwari Devi temple chief priest Shashishekara Dixt, he is witness to the police offering guard of honour since his childhood. "Earlier, during the period of the maharajas, soldiers used to offer ‘Barjit’ to the goddess and the police have continued the tradition, by offering guard of honour.  Chamundeshwari Devi is the only deity in the nation to get a salute from the police. It is a matter of pride," he said.

A police personnel, who has offered the guard of honour several times, said it is not self-pride, but pride for the entire Mysuru Police. "Though the procedure of offering guard of honour is simple, it has its own significance. Paying respects to the state deity needs more caution and dedication," he said.