400th year of Dasara, and we can’t remember?

GOURI SATYA writes a small epitaph for our sense of history, in Business Standard:

“Dasara 2010 in Mysore due shortly will be historic. It was 400 years ago that the 10-day celebrations was conducted for the first time. After annexing Srirangapatna in the battle of Kesare, now a part of Mysore, one of the early and prominent rulers of the Wodeyar dynasty conducted the celebrations for the first time in AD 1610.

“But, the Karnataka government was caught napping. By the time the administration realised the significance of the event, it was too late.

“After annexing Srirangapatna, which was part of the Vijayanagar domain, Raja Wodeyar continued the tradition of the Vijayanagar rulers of Hampi-fame in this historic town near Mysore for the first time. Raja Wodeyar defeated Vijayanagar representative and royal chieftain Thirumalaraya at the war in Kesare and annexed Srirangapatna.

“The maiden Dasara was modeled after the Vijayanagar celebrations. It was held with great éclat of which a graphic description is available in literary records. He not only introduced the celebrations in the then Mysore province but also laid down how it should be conducted by the royal family in the days to come. The rules he laid down 400 years ago is faithfully followed till today by the Wodeyar family.

“The fact that 2010 will be historic, dawned belatedly on the organisers of the festivities and they have initiated steps to cover up their laxity.

A logo marking the 400th year, drawn by a young artist, has been accepted by Mayor Sandesh Swamy. However, the Dasara publicity posters released on Thursday in Mysore fails to take note of the eventful mark. Nowhere does it mention of the historic fact or carries the logo.

“After realising the historical significance just a fornight ahead of the Dasara celebrations, to commence on October 8, the district authorities are persuading the department of posts to issue a special stamp and a first-day envelope. Steps have also been initiated to have a silver coin specially minted for the occasion. The ‘Gandabherunda’ or the double-headed eagle, the insignia of the rulers of Mysore, is the proposed design for the silver coin of 10 gm.

“The 400th anniversary could have been turned into a significant event with grand celebrations with long-drawn planning. However, it will be again another state-sponsored Dasara just like those of the last couple of years.”

Photograph: courtesy U.B. Vasudev

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