Interestingly, after the entire country winds up the Dussehra celebrations Kullu [also known as the Valley of
Living Gods] comes alive with Dussehra celebrations. The festival begins on the 10th day of the rising moon, which falls on 'Vijay Dashmi day’ and continues for a good 7 days. Kullu Dusshehra is a beautiful amalgamation of history, art, culture and customs.
Legend has it that it all began way back in 1637 A. D. when Raja Jagat Singh ruled the Valley. One day, the Raja upon hearing that a peasant Durga Dutt of village Tipri owned beautiful pearls wanted to get his hands on them. Durga Dutt tried to convince the Raja that the he owned no pearls, but the Raja would not hear of it.
The Raja gave him a one last chance. Durga got scared of the Raja’s wrath and burnt his entire family in the house they lived in. He also cursed the Raja for being so cruel, this in turn led to the Raja contracting leprosy which is when he realised he was wrong to have suspected Durga.
Photo Courtesy: Abasar
Kishan Das [also known as Fuhari Baba] advised the King to install the idol of Lord Raghunath to get rid of the curse. He sent a Brahmin to steal the idol from Ayodhya and installed it in Kullu. The people of Ayodhya attempted to take Ragunath’s idol back, but it became so heavy and they were unable to take it back to Ayodhya, and surprisingly, the idol became very light when headed to Kullu. On reaching Kullu Ragunath was installed as the reigning deity of the Kullu kingdom. This is how Dussehra came to be celebrated in Kullu. On the 1st fortnight of Ashwini month, the Raja welcomes all 365 Gods & Goddesses of the Valley to Dhalpur to perform a Yagna in Lord Raghunath's honor.
On the 1st day- Goddess Hadimba of Manali comes down to Kullu. She is the Goddess of the royal family of Kullu. Lord Raghunath’s idol is saddled around Goddess Hadimba and they are placed in a Rath (a chariot) that has been adorned beautifully. They then wait for the signal from Mata Bhekhli, from atop the hill. All the devotees help pull the rath that has been decorated. Nearly 100 Gods and Goddesses are placed on the several palanquins and taken on procession. It is said that Gods & Goddesses have descended from Heaven to Earth.
Photo Courtesy: Creative Commons/maverickvarun
On the very last day of the festival, the chariot is taken to the banks of River Beas where grass and wood are burnt symbolizing the burning of Lanka [as told in Ramayana]. There is also the local custom of sacrificing animals that follows this ritual.
Being in Kullu during Dussehra is a surreal experience, and shows the other side of the valley, one that not many are aware of.
This post was featured on ClubMahindra's Blog