What is so “world-famous” about Mysore Dasara?

DEEPAK THIMAYA writes from Bangalore: Ministers and bureaucrats, correspondents and reporters, tourist operators and hotel owners… nobody, it seems, can utter the words “Mysore Dasara” without happily slapping the label “world famous” before it.

Is it?

Is the Mysore Dasara “world famous” because we assume that it is indeed a world famous event? Is it “world famous” because we think people all over the world are aware of it? Or is it “world famous” because we think that the things we see in the procession are really world class?

Let us give a moment for yesterday’s “grand procession”.

Do we really believe that people from the world over would pay to come and watch the rolling out of grotesque structures made of cardboard, canvas and plaster of paris, passing off as exhibits representative of the great “culture” and “progress” of Karnataka?

Have we stopped even a moment to see whether the way we conduct Dasara deserves the great “world-famous” claim we so loudly and liberally grant it?

Isn’t there anyone who can ensure better tableaux and also design the whole show as a colourful and attractive pageant by still ensuring that the deliberate messages from the State can be built into the visual delight?

Apart from the Jamboosavari which is unparalleled, unquestionably unique, interesting and awe inspiring, what we see in procession after “grand procession” are the same stale choreographed folk dances, the same cliched images of the State, and the chaos and indiscipline intrinsic to our lives.

All these turn the beauty of an elephantine spectacle into a damp squib. And yet we call this “world famous”?

The procession should compliment the howdah bearing the elephant’s regality and not look like a hurried set-up to spend some money in the most unprofessional way possible.

There is so much talent in Karnataka particularly in Mysore with its numerous artists, artistes, and artisans skilled in carving and the arts—and far more can be done. Even the Madikeri Dasara and Mangalore Dasara can teach a lesson or two to the old and stagnant mindset behind Mysore Dasara.

The same money spent on the tableaux and dances can be better spent by monitoring the quality of the displays and also by encouraging the artists who create spectacular tableaux.

Unless such steps are taken, we will continue to see only a handful of white faces staring at the insipid show after having been fooled by the hype and claims for a long time to come, and our dream of making Mysore Dasara a truly world class event will remain just that, a distant dream.

Or, we could just have the Jamboosavari which is good enough by itself by any standard.

(Deepak Thimaya is the host of Udaya TV’s interview programme, Time to Talk)

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News