Declared as an international event in 1972 and celebrated in the valley of Gods, a week-long Kullu Dussehra celebrations in Himachal begins on the Vijaydashmi day when the nine-day long festival of Navratras ends. It attracts number of visitors from all over India as well as the world. This year, Kullu Dussehra 2020 celebrations, which had commenced from October 25, comes to an end with the Lanka Dehan (burning) on Saturday. Every year this festival is celebrated with utmost religious fervour when people enjoy dancing, singing and feasting for a whole week, but there were controlled celebrations due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic this year.
Organised in the Dhalpur maidan, Kullu Dussehra starts with a long procession of idols of Lord Raghunatha and other local deities, which are carried on a Chariot (Ratha) across the town of Kullu, also known as Kulanpitha. On this auspicuious occasion, the Kala Kendra festival is also held at night where several activities and cultural events take place. Also, the different cultural processions from across the world are invited during this festival.
A worth watching sight of assembly of the village dieties Devtas takes place on the sixth day of Kullu Dussehra. On the last day of the celebrations, sacrifices of a fish, a crab, a rooster, a buffalo and a lamb are conducted along with a huge bonfire. Then the idol of Ragunath Ji is brought back to its original place through a grand procession. About 300 idols of deities from the adjoining villages of Kullu are worshipped during the celebrations.
Tales behind this grand festival
The people here believe that Maharishi Jamdagni was once crossing the Chanderkhani pass with a basket of eighteen idols of different Gods while returning from Kailash. Then suddenly a fierce storm scattered all those idols across the Kullu valley. The people in these hills witnessed these idols taking forms of Gods and started worshiping them since then. Consequently, Kullu came to be known as the “Valley of Gods”.
According to another legend, during 16th century, there was a regime of Raja Jagat Singh in Kullu who heard about a peasant owning a treasure of pearls of knowledge. Out of wickedness and greed, he threatened the peasant and demanded those pearls from him. So the peasent jumped into the fire taking away his own life. While commiting this, he had cursed the Raja. Consequently, out of guilt, Raja Jagat Singh saw worms instead of rice and blood in the pot of water.
The spirit of that peasent continued to haunt him. A panic-stricken Raja slowly began to fall ill. Then a holy brahmin namely Krishan Datt came for his recue and advised him to carry the idol of Lord Raghunath from Ayodhya to Kullu, which would uplift the curse on him. Raja followed his advise and the Lord Raghunath became the reigning deity of the Kullu valley.
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