Kullu: World famous week-long International Dussehra festival Kullu commenced with traditional fervour at Dhalpur ground today in the presence of more than 331 deities of district. Governor Bandaru Dattatraya inaugurated the festival by participating in the Rathyatra of Lord Raghunath.
The Governor felicitated the people of the valley on the auspicious occasion of Dussehra, which symbolizes the victory of the truth over evil. He said that the culture of Himachal Pradesh was unique and had a distinct identity. The fairs and festivals celebrated here round the year provide a glimpse of rich traditions and beliefs of the people, he added.
Emphasizing upon the value of ancient traditions he said that the people of the state deserve appreciation for preserving their rich culture, age-old customs and traditions in the present era of modernization. Which needs to be carried for future generations in an unhindered way.
Later, the Governor inaugurated the exhibition put up by various government departments, boards, corporations and other non-government organizations. He also visited the stalls and appreciated the exhibits. Earlier, the Governor has accorded warm welcome on his arrival at Bhuntar Airport.
Govind Singh Thakur, forest, transport and youth services & sports, Justice Sanjay Karol, Chief Justice of High Court of Tripura, Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary, Judge of Himachal Pradesh High Court, MLAs, Dr. Richa Verma Deputy Commissioner Kullu, Gaurav Singh Superintendent of Police Kullu, all officers of the district administration were present on the occasion.
The Dussehra festival of Kullu is internationally popular today. It has great value whether looked from religious point of view, commercial aspect or the cultural aspect. Many international troupes come here to put their performances in the stage named Lal Chand Prarthi Kalakendra.
Above 300 deities across the district come here to pay their obeisance to Lord Raghunath (presiding deity of area) on the occasion. Thousands of people visit Dussehra festival everyday making administration plan and prepare well for peaceful and successful event every year.
Dussehra event has an interesting history behind it. As everyone knows that the festival begins with the arrival of esteemed deity of Kullu Lord Raghunath (Rama) at Dhalpur ground which is also known as Dussehra ground. There is a story behind the Lord Raghunath’s idol brought from Ayodhaya, UP, a place where Lord Rama was born. Festival dates back to the year 1660.
Dr. Sita Ram Thakur, former language officer and a renowned intellectual of district Kullu throws light on the history behind the festival and says, ”In ancient days (1637-1662) King Jagat Singh used to rule Kullu estate, during those days Naggar was the capital of Kullu. One the other hand, a poor brahmin Durga Dutt used to live with his family at a small village Tippari falls in Manikaran valley. King got a false information about brahmin Durga Dutt about having ‘mann’ (one and half kg) pure pears in his house. This (false) information somewhere hurt the ego of Raja as he thought that the royal palace is the appropriate place to have such big amount of pure pears.
Thus Raja warned the brahmin to deposit those pears in Rajmahal ( royal palace) as soon as possible otherwise be ready to face the dire consequences. Poor and feared brahmin found himself helpless when he got the warning from the king. Though the brahmin tried to convince the king about the truth but all his efforts proved to be fruitless.” Thakur further adds, ”Finally feared brahmin did self immolation with his entire family which lead king Jagat Singh to repent later about the warning he gave to that brahmin.
Historians also say that royal family had to suffer from the skin disease leprosy as a curse. It is said that a saint namely Kishan Dash advised king to bring idols of Lord Rama, goddess Sita and Hanuman from Ayodhya, UP and dedicate his entire empire to the Lord, if he wants to get rid of the curse. Following his advice the king sent Damodar Das, a pupil of that very saint Kishan Das to Ayodhya for the purpose.
Idols of Lord Rama, goddess Sita and Hanuman was brought in 1651 to Kullu. These idols are said to the very idols made by Lord Rama Himself during the ‘Ashvamegh Yagya’ during Tretayug (ancient days when Rama used to rule Ayodhaya Himself). Initially (1653) these idols were kept at Manikaran temple but later in 1660 to Kullu with proper religious process. Where king dedicated his entire empire to Lord Rama and declared himself a care taker of Lord Ragunath and finally got rid of leprosy caused by the curse of compelling a poor brahmin to commit self immolation.
After getting rid of that curse, in 1660, King invited the deities of district for Dusshera celebrations . It’s said that all local deities to started respect Lord as esteemed deity of Kullu.
Undoubtedly, Dussehra festival of Kullu is celebrated every year where Lord Raghunath’s presence is must but there are around 46 others celebrations also in district especially in Raghunathpur (place in town where Raghunath temple is situated) every year including Basant Panchami, Holi and Annakut.