Ayudha Pooja is a celebration during Dasara. On this day the weapons used during war were worshiped in the palace. The common people worship machines, implements and vehicles at home, factories and offices. This is a grand celebration, and a time to thank the various manmade things for making life easy.
It falls on the 9th day or Navami in the Hindu month of Ashwina, September-October of the Gregorian calendar. This year (2012) it is on 23rd October.
Mysoreans love gardening and every house will have at least a Tulasi and Money plant growing in a pot. To encourage this wonderful hobby, a flower show on a grand scale is held by the Horticulture department during Dasara at Curzon park adjacent to Mysore Palace. Corporates and public sector companies showcase their might in the art of gardening and win prizes. Thousands of people visit the flower show. This year the show will start from 8th October and various other competitions like Ikebana, Flower Rangoli and Bonsai are organized.
Mr. Dinakar has written a wonderful post on Mysore Dasara Flower Show in his blog. Here is the link for the same – http://mysoreanmusings.blogspot.com/2010/10/mysore-dasara-horticultural-show.html
This is in continuation of the post “Traditional Dolls Arrangement”. The custom of arranging dolls during Navaratri / Dasara is also followed in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. In these states it is known as Golu or Kolu or Bommai Koluvu. The dolls are arranged on 7, 9 or 11 steps.
A Kalasha is kept in front of the Pattada Gombe and lights are lit and the dolls are worshipped on all the 9 days. An Aarathi is performed in the evening after all the people invited assemble in the hall accompanied by devotional songs. Delicious snacks are prepared and offered to the dolls and are distributed among the children and ladies.
I have taken these pictures in Janapada Loka near Ramanagara during Dasara. They have a very huge collection of dolls given away by people, who have discontinued the tradition of arranging dolls during Dasara.
Here are some Dolls that are handed over from generations to generations for arranging during Dasara. Dolls in a marriage party complete with the bride / groom sitting in a car, the snake charmer, mythological dolls, Gana (traditional form of Oil extraction from seeds) and so on are arranged on steps. Enjoy the visuals!
During Dasara, many households had the ritual of arranging dolls in the house for 9 days in Mysore region. This would bring out a lot of creativeness among the people. The preparations for the doll arrangement would start two weeks before the commencement of the Dasara. Decorating the Pattada Gombe, Polishing and painting dolls, Thermocol and Cotton work, and so on. A week before Dasara, we used to grow Wheat in trays to make a forest arrangement.
Trays made of potting material, Tin or Plastic
Mud + Sand + Manure mixture
Broken pieces of Pot
Fengshui Bamboo Plants
Pattada Gombe in Kannada means, the royal dolls and Alankara means decoration. Many households have a custom of arranging dolls during Dasara festival in Mysore. This is also known as Kolu in Iyengar households. Various dolls are arranged and the main dolls are the King and the Queen. The King and Queen dolls are made of Chandana / Rosewood. These dolls are gifted to the girl on her wedding day by her parents. You can also buy the dolls in shops in Karnataka. Every year, few days before Dasara, the Pattada Gombe / King and Queen dolls are decorated using different materials. Credit for decorating the dolls in the pictures below goes to my mom.
Pattada Gombe / King and Queen dolls
Colored Papers or Cloth
Gold and Silver papers or lace
Mysore Dasara procession during the Maharajah’s rule used to be on a larger scale and grander. My grandparents and parents generation go on and on narrating the grandeur of the procession during “those days” when the Maharajah would sit on an elephant in the golden howdah. A 21-gun salute would be sounded just before the start of the parade. The paintings in Mysore palace also brings alive the pageantry of Dasara procession celebrated during the royal bygone era. The procession was known as Jamboo Savari, “Jamboo” means elephant and “Savari” means to ride on an elephant.
Picture2 – Jamboo Savari
The dasara procession would mark the end of the 9-day festivities in the city. Households in Mysore would host a multitude of guests from different places to witness the procession. The procession route was through Doddapet/Ashoka road during that time. The dewan/minister would receive the king near the elephant gate and offer a garland. The durbar bhakshi had the honor of walking in front of the elephant with the howdah. Bhakshi used to be the master of ceremonies. My grandfather’s uncle was a bhakshi in the Mysore palace and hence my grandfather would narrate about how the Mysore royals celebrated Dasara.
This tree is also known as Shami tree and is very sacred to Hindus. This tree comes into prominence during Dasara festival. The botanical name of this tree is Prosopis spicigera. Every Hindu warrior before going for war would offer prayers to Banni tree and then proceed. They believed that they would emerge victorious in the war. The legend behind is rooted in the great epic Mahabharatha. When Pandavas were in exile for 14 years, they had to spend one-year incognito. During this period they had to hide their precious weapons lest they give away their identity. They chose the Shami tree to hide their weapons. After a year, they came back to the tree and found their weapons intact. They worshiped the tree and asked for power and victory in the ensuing battle between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Pandavas won the battle and hence it is believed that the Banni tree gives power and victory to those who pray to it.
Thus on Vijayadashami day people exchange the Banni/Shami leaves and greet and wish each other. This custom is followed in North Karnataka and Maharashtra.
In Mysore, the Dasara procession would reach Bannimantap, and the Maharaja would perform pooja/prayer to Banni tree and carry a branch of this tree back to his palace.
Vijayadashami being the last day of the celebrations, a grand Jamboo Savari/procession passes through the streets of the city. The main attraction here is the idol of the goddess Chamundeshwari placed in the golden howdah on top of the Ambaari aane/elephant seat. The golden howdah is made using 80Kgs of gold. In the glorious past, when the kings ruled the state of Mysore, the kings used to sit in the howdah during the procession.
The procession will be inaugurated in a traditional way by worshipping the Nandi Dhwaja (a sacred pole) at the Balarama Gate of Mysore Palace. A 21 gun salute booms at the palace grounds.