History Of Dasara
Wodeyars of Mysuru (1578-1947)
With founding of Mysuru dynasty in 1399 AD by Yaduraya, Mysuru has seen 25 rulers. Till emergence of Raja Wodeyar in 1578 AD, the Mysuru Kingdom was a small feudatory Kingdom under the Vijayanagar Empire. With the fall of Vijayanagar Empire in 1565 AD, the Wodeyars inherited and perpetuated the traditions of Vijayanagar Empire. Raja Wodeyar ascended the throne in 1610 AD, in Srirangapatna, the erstwhile capital and inaugurated the Dasara Festivities which are still celebrated with all grandeur. The most celebrated Kings after Raja Wodeyar who contributed to the cultural heritage of Mysuru are Ranadhira Kanthirava Narasaraja Wodeyar (1638 -1659 AD), Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673 -1704 AD), Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (III) (1799 – 1868 AD), Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (IV) (1902 -1940 AD) and Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar from 1940 till the establishment of the Republic of India.
Between 1761 and 1799, Hyder Ali along with his son Tippu Sultan ruled the State. With the defeat of Tippu Sultan by the British at Srirangapatna in 1799, five years old Prince Krishnaraja Wodeyar (III) was installed as the King of Mysuru, on the throne of his ancestors. Wodeyars contributed a great deal towards arts and culture. Palaces, temples, the Mysuru school of traditional painting, women’s schools and colleges and music maestros bear witness to the liberal grants and patronage of Mysuru kings. Mysuru was the only highly industrialized and progressive native state in India in steel, silk, soaps and hydro-electricity. The kingdom was benefited from visionaries like Sir Mirza Ismail and Sir M. Visveswaraya who served under the Wodeyars as Dewans.
Mysuru, or Mahishur as it was called in the past, traces its history back to the mythical past, when Goddess Chamundeshwari of Chamundi Hill, killed the wicked buffalo-headed demon, Mahishasura. This event that marked the victory of Good over Evil is the inspiration behind the Dasara festivities.
Mysuru’s most famous festival is the 10 day Dasara, in September or October, when the entire city gets itself up to celebrations that include a majestic procession, dance, music, varieties of cultural activities and a torch light parade.
Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped. The 10th day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami. According to a legend, Vijayadashami denotes the victory of truth over evil and was the day when the Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura is the demon from whose name, the name Mysuru has been derived. The city of Mysuru has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival and the festivities here are an elaborate affair and attract a large audience from all over the world.