Mysore : Mysore hosted its famed Dussehra pageantry Sunday with thousands of people, including tourists, crowding roads to have a glimpse of the Jamboo Savari or elephant procession that commenced from the royal palace in this cultural capital of Karnataka.
The annual event, marking the 10th day of the Dussehra festival, drew an estimated 500,000 people, including thousands of domestic and foreign tourists to the grand finale that culminates in a torchlight parade and fireworks after sunset at the Bannimantap grounds across the city of palaces.
Celebrating the triumph of good over evil on the day of the Vijayadashmi, the pageant rolled out from the Mysore Palace, with the caparisoned jumbo ‘Balarama’ carrying deity Chamundeshwari on the 750kg golden howdah (throne).
Dozens of decorated elephants, camels and horses, forming the main cavalcade with mounted mahouts and royal guards put up a dazzling show, beckoning spectators to join the celebrations in Mysore, about 150 km from state capital Bangalore.
Scion of the royal family Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, his consort Pramodha Devi and other royal members were the star attractions, recreating the grandeur of the Mysore maharajas who ruled the princely state from the 18th century till Independence.
With the state under the president’s rule, Governor Rameshwar Thakur had the honour of inaugurating the grand ceremony by invoking goddess Chamundeshwari, amidst hymns and devotional songs renting the air.
A 21-gun salute by the state police and home guards heralded the four-km victorious parade, passing through the town hall and central thoroughfares of the illuminated city.
Thousands of people lined up on both sides of the procession to view the rich art, culture and heritage of Karnataka through 28 tableaux, while about 80 troupes from across the state performed folk dances with religious songs, enacted street plays and displayed martial arts.
Mysore deputy commissioner N.S. Chennappa Gowda told IANS that security arrangements were in place to ensure no untoward incident took place during the grand procession and to regulate the crowd en-route.
“In view of the security alert for such events, the royal palace has been fortified and about 2,000 police personnel deployed across the city for the Jamboo Savari and maintain order,” Gowda said.
The Dussehra celebration committee also set up 10-12 giant screens across the city to relay live the grand event through closed-circuit television (CCTV) network. The entire procession was video-graphed by the state police for security reasons.
Elaborate arrangements were made at the palace entrance and en route to seat about 6,000 VIPs, special invitees and ticket-holders for watching the colourful proceedings.
Mysore Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said a three-layer security cover had been put in place at the royal place, for the procession and at the Bannimantap venue, with mobile patrolling in other parts of the city.