Kullu Dussehra - The Festival of Triumph of Good Over Evil

Dussehra festival is celebrated in all parts of India with great sanctity as it symbolizes the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana and infect victory of good over evil in the world. But Dussehra celebration in Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh is famous for its uniqueness. It is celebrated over a period of seven days and local deities from all parts of Kullu valley visit the Dussehra venue and participate in the celebrations. It falls in the month of October. Kullu Dussehra begins on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on ‘Vijay Dashmi’ day and goes on for seven days.
Kullu Dussehra
The festival begins with the arrival of deities from all parts of the valley. The number of local deities may vary from 200-250 with some deities may not be participating in the festival. The deities arrived at Dhalpur ground-the venue of the festival in Kullu city and from here,the deities leave for Sultanpur-the temple where Raghunathji, main deity, representing lord Rama, reside and took the idol to Dhalpur Maidan on the banks of River Beas. The Dussehra celebration began historically in the seventeenth century when the idol was brought from Ayodhya by the ruling dynasty of that time. It is said that the idol of Raghunathji  was brought from Ayodhya in 1651 by Damodar Dass a Brahmin and was originally installed at Manikaran and later on shifted to Sultanpur in Kullu town. The ruler of that time was Raja Jagat Singh.

The idol is then taken in the Rathyatra procession to the venue of weeklong celebrations. The Rathyatra procession begins from one part of the Dhalpur ground to other part and the Rath or chariot is pulled by devotees and is accompanied by procession of local deities. The procession is a beautiful sight. The deity is taken to the allotted place along with the local deities who occupied their allotted places. Then begins a number of activities. The face of Dussehra is also changing with the change in the social setup. It is now a venue of business activities. Initially, the Dussehra celebration involves Ram Lila-story telling by drama about the life of Lord Rama but this is now almost disappeared as modern cultural acts like music shows have now the main activities during the week long celebrations. However numerous cultural activities like local dances named Nati, local songs, cultural themes of the Kullu valley are performed and is witnessed by numerous people from all parts of India as well as globe. The Dussehra of Kullu is now an international event. The end of Dussehra is marked by taking idol of Raghunath ji to the bank of river Beas on the last day where pile of wood and grass is burnt as symbol and then animals are sacrificed. Unlike rest of India, no effigies of Ravana and other representations of evils are burnt here. The venue of Dussehra witness’s huge crowds as various companies installed their stalls and a brisk business is made by them. The face of Kullu Dussehra is changing with time though the faith and belief in local deities remains intact in the hearts of people of this religious valley.
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