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Elephants March into Mysore for Dasara

The first contingent of elephants has arrived in Mysore for participating in the 10-day-long Dasara festival, commencing from September 26. The six elephants is led by tusker Balarama, who will carry the golden howdah in the Vijaya Dasami procession on October 5, the last day of the age-old festival. The arrival of the jumbos from their camp in the Nagarahole National Park has set into motion the arrangements for the famous Dasara celebrations.

A past tradition was revived in bringing the elephants to Mysore from the forest. Instead of bringing them in trucks as was being done in the recent years, the elephants trekked 70-km distance from their abode in the Nagarahole National Park to Mysore, villagers greeting the sacred animals all the way with rejoice. As the party of 10 pachyderms arrived at the Veerana Hosahalli forest checkpost in Hunsur taluk, from the forest, on August 11, the guests were received by the Mysore District Minister, Mr. H.Viswanath, a host of officials and prominent persons from Mysore and people from nearby villagers. The villagers performed folk dances, and beat drums and sang songs and welcomed the elephants. This was in keeping with the royal tradition of the Mysore Maharajas.

Resting at a few places on the way, the pachyderms arrived in Mysore on August 16 and camped at the Aranya Bhavan (Forest House) premises of the Forest Department. Of the ten elephants, the first batch of six was given a traditional welcome at the Mysore Palace Main Entrance, Jayamarthanda Gate, on the next day by the Minister, the Mayor, and host of others. They were worshipped and offered with coconut, jaggery, and sugarcane. They were taken in procession from the main gate to their temporary shelter in the Palace premises with band sets and music. The elephants were gorgeously decorated in the same style as on the Vijaya Dasami procession day. The six guests are headed by the star attraction of the contingent, Balarama, and consist of Arjuna, Gajendra, Bharata, Kanthi and Sarala.

Plans are being worked out to make Dasara this year a major attraction. The celebrations had suffered during the last few years owing to one reason or the other, including scarcity conditions due to inadequate rainfall, though the Government had initially announced that the celebrations would go ahead in a big way. "However, this year the Government is determined to see that the festivities regain their importance and glory, as it would give a big boost to tourism. It will be in keeping with the past tradition. The celebrations will not be scaled down", the Minister has announced.

Besides reviving the old tradition of elephant march, the Minister has officially called on the scion of Mysore royal family, Mr. Narasimharaja Wodeyar, Congress MP, and invited him to participate in the State-organized festivities, making another first move for organizing the celebrations. Mr Wadiyar was requested to part with his golden howdah for the Vijaya Dasami procession on the concluding day of the celebrations. Private companies are being drawn to sponsor some major attractions during the ten days and turn them into mega events with a fee.

At a preliminary meeting, it was decided to invite renowned scientist of India, Dr. C.N.R.Rao, to launch the celebrations from atop Chamundi Hills on the morning of September 27. A decision was also taken to invite popular Karnatak musician, Dr. J.Jesu Das for a music performance on October 4 in front of the Mysore Palace. Music programmes would be arranged at Jaganmohan Palace and Kala Mandira also, on the evenings of first nine days. Besides a tourist committee for the first time, a few other sub-committess like the reception, procession, tableaux, wrestling and publicity were proposed to be set up to supervise the arrangements.

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