Mysore has become synonymous with the extravagant Dasara celebrations and the festival is celebrated with a great pomp every year. The 10-day festival ends with its last day being Vijayadashami.
According to historians, Mysore Dussehra became a nada habba (a state festival), in the 14th century, during the reign of the Vijayanagar rulers. Later, after their fall, the Wodeyars of Mysore turned it into a spectacle of unparalleled grandeur. In 1610, at Srirangapatna, Raja Wodeyar I, reintroduced the Vijayanagar tradition of celebrating Navaratri, ensuring that the nine days were an amalgamation of piety and festivity. It was during the rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in 1805, that the king started the tradition of holding a special durbar in the Mysore Palace during Dussehra, which was attended by members of the royal family, officials and the people.
On the first day of Dussehra, the king takes a ceremonial bath, worships the family deity in the palace and enters the durbar where he worships the navagrahas (nine planets). He then ascends the throne after which the royal sword and insignia are presented to him. Conches and trumpets are blown to announce that the parade has started.
The royal elephant showers petals on the guests while the royal horse kneels to salute the throne. Once the assembly departs, the king leaves the durbar after praying to the goddess and dines with guests.
All nine evenings of Navaratri are marked with these ceremonies and are followed by acrobatic feats, wrestling, fireworks and more. On the seventh day, the king venerates goddess Saraswati and Mahishasuramardhini, on the eight, On Mahanavami, or the ninth day, the royal sword is worshipped.
The 10th day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami. According to a legend, Vijayadashami denotes the victory of truth over evil and was the day when the Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura is the demon from whose name, the name Mysore has been derived.
Mysore Palace begins its day with a puja. Then begins the Jamboo Savari, the procession that begins from the Mysore Palace with Goddess Chamundeshwari's idol perched on a well-decorated elephant and ends at the Bannimantap Ground.
The royals worship the Banni tree here which has its own history. It is believed that the Pandavas used this very tree to hide their weapons during their final year of their exile. The conclusion of the festival starts with the torch light parade at the Bannimantap Ground at about 7 pm (simultaneously, the palace is illuminated) that includes fireworks and laser shows too.
The city of Mysore has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival and the festivities here are an elaborate affair and attract a large audience from all over the world.