Shimla: The centuries-old Kullu Dussehra festival, the annual congregation of over 200 deities in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, will be celebrated from Oct 14, an official said here yesterday.
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the state-level Kullu Dussehra Organising Committee presided over by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh held in Shimla Saturday, a government spokesperson told.
Kullu Dussehra is a festival whose celebrations begin on ‘Vijaya Dashami’, the day when the festivities end in the rest of the country.
Unlike other parts of the country, effigies of Ravan, Meghnad and Kumbhakarna are not burnt in the festivity.
However, the ‘evil empire’ will be destroyed during the Lankadahan ceremony on the bank of the Beas river Oct 20, the last day of the festival, he said.
The chariot of Lord Raghunath, the chief deity, accompanied by palanquins of other deities will reach the historic Dhalpur Maidan amid beating of drums and playing of ‘shehnais’ on the first day of the festival.
The origin of the Kullu Dussehra dates back to 1637 when Raja Jagat Singh was the ruler of the valley. He invited all local deities to perform a ritual in Lord Raghunath’s honour. Since then the assembly of the deities has become a custom.
Thousands of devotees, including foreign tourists, are expected to participate in pulling of the sacred rath (chariot) of Lord Raghunath.
The Kullu Valley is known for its local demigods and ancient shamanistic traditions that govern the lives of the ethnic communities inhabiting the lower Himalayan slopes.
The valley is also popularly known as the “Dev Bhoomi – The Land of Gods”.
Every village has several resident “gods” and “goddesses” – who are invoked as living deities.
The conduit between the mortals and the deities are the “gur” – the traditional shamans of Himachal, who form the core of the communities’ spiritual sustenance. The “gur” mediates between the people and the gods.