Beautiful hill towns and vibrant festivals are a great combination. Here’s to one such festival in a gorgeous location, the Kullu Dussehra. This highly anticipated week-long festival is quite grand, to say the least! Held every year in Dhalpur, people of Kullu Valley celebrate and rejoice the triumph of good over evil. The Dussehra celebrations in Kullu are completely different from the rest of the country. Here’s how!
The history behind Kullu Dussehra
The history of Dussehra celebrations in the district goes back to the 17th century. According to a local legend, a Brahmin priest was accidentally killed by Kullu’s king Raja Jagat Singh. To make up for this sin, the king abdicated his crown and put an idol of Lord Raghunath (Lord Ram) on the empty throne, pledging that only the lord and his successors would rule the Kingdom of Kullu thereon. It is believed that since then, Lord Raghunath has invited other gods from the heavens to celebrate Dussehra in Kullu.
The concept of God and Demi-gods
Each kingdom in Himachal Pradesh has one main devta whose priests and caretakers are members of that royal family. The concept of demigods, or devtas, is ancient and is prevalent across the Himalayan region. Traditionally, demigod worship is based on the concept that people work for the god and in return, the god provides them with sustenance and protects them from harm. And this is where Kullu Dussehra, an internationally renowned festival, comes into the picture.
How Kullu Dussehra is Celebrated Today
The festival is truly unique in the entire Himalayan region, and it continues to grow year after year. The devotees in Kullu carry out a procession wherein they carry the idols of different gods from their home on their heads to meet Lord Raghunath in the temple. Hundreds of gods are brought to the temple grounds on the day of Dussehra, including Hadimba and Jamlu Rishi. The dancing, drinking, feasting and merriment continues for a week amidst the breathtaking views of the valley.
However, it is not just about gods and their devotees—there are other cultural activities that take place during this festival, as well as sporting events and small-scale trading. The Kala Kendra festival held at night where the king of Kullu sits on a raised platform on a Peepal tree and traditional dances are performed in front of him.
Over the years, Kullu Dussehra has evolved and changed, and it is now a more commercial event than it was in the past. Many international travelers like to visit Kullu during Dussehra to witness the grand celebrations. In fact, the festival was declared an international event in 1972 with a footfall of 4-5 lac people from across the globe. People from Ladakh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and other Himalayan states also attend and participate in the festival. The last day has a symbolic significance. Devotees collect a pile of wood and set it on fire to mark the destruction of Lanka and the eventual prevalence of good over evil.
What to expect during the COVID-19 pandemic
However, if you are planning on witnessing Kullu Dussehra 2021 celebrations, block your calendars from October 15 to 21. The four-time MP and scion of the royal family of Kullu, Maheshwar, plans to celebrate Kullu Dussehra while keeping in mind the social distancing rules. He is of the opinion that age old rituals are certainly important and cannot be broken. Hence, like previous years, this year too festivities will start with rath yatra of Lord Raghunath from Rath Maidan of Kullu and all important rituals and traditions will also be performed.
In additon to this, you also have the added advantage of exploring the beautiful hill town and its neighbouring valleys, known for its lovely gorges, wondrous waterfalls, chatty mountain streams and, curious wooden temples, all of which are certainly going to enthrall you. You can book your safe, santized Manali taxi here.
Have a Happy Dussehra!