Kullu Dussehra is the renowned International Mega Dussehra festival observed in October every year in Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Kullu is one of the best places to celebrate Dussehra in India and also one of the well-known places to visit near Delhi. Celebrated at Dhalpur Maidan in the Kullu Valley, Dussehra at Kullu commences on the day of Vijay Dashmi itself and continues for seven days. The festivals celebrate the triumph of the Lord Rama over evil. Around 200 local deities including goddess Hidimba from Manali are brought ceremoniously to the Temple of Raghunathji during this time. The state government has given the status of an International festival to the Kullu Dussehra in 1972 which attracts over 5-6 lakhs devotees as part of Kullu Tour Packages. Kullu Dussehra is celebrated on 15th October this year.
There are a couple of legends associated with the origin of the Kullu Dussehra, among the prominent festivals of India. The history of this spellbinding festival dates back to the 17th century when the local king, Jagat Singh, installed an idol of Lord Raghunath on his throne to eradicate his curse, after taking it from Lord Rama’s kingdom, Ayodhya. After this, Lord Raghunath was declared the ruling deity of Kullu Valley. According to traditions, a huge statue of the deity is now installed on a beautifully designed chariot, on the first day of the Festival, in the presence of other village gods and goddesses. The devotees after offering their prayers and respects to the deity take him to different sites across the Dhalpur Maidan.
Dussehra in Kullu Valley is one of the most important festivals in Himachal Pradesh. Celebrated at Dhalpur Maidan in Kullu, it is a week-long festival that starts on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on ‘Vijay Dashmi’ day itself, and continues for seven days. The devotees in Kullu carry out a procession wherein they carry the idols of different Gods from their homes on their heads to meet Lord Raghunath in the temple. The celebration of Dussehra starts with the Rath Yatra of Lord Raghunathiji. During the festival days, parades of the Gods and Goddesses are organized in the morning and evening. The celebrations are concluded with a bonfire that signifies the burning of Lanka, and the idol of Lord Raghunath is brought back to its original position through a grand procession. Many stalls are set up in the area where the selling of household items, garments, local handicrafts, and others are done. Local artists perform dances, songs, and plays during the celebration days. People from all over India attend and take part in the festival as part of Himachal tour packages.
Highlights of the Festival
The special highlight of Kullu Dussehra is a grand procession of Lord Raghunath, along with other deities, carried on a Ratha across the town of Kullu, among the must-include places in Himachal tour. More than 100 Gods and Goddesses also participated in this journey along with Lord Raghunathji. Huge feasts are organized along with a culturally rich Kala Kendra Festival that makes the festival merrier. On the sixth day, a procession of village Devtas is carried out and on the last day, many sacrifices are made like that of a fish, crab, rooster, buffalo, or lamb followed by a huge bonfire that signifies the burning of Lanka, and the idol of Lord Raghunath is brought back to its original position through a grand procession. During this festival not only religious ceremonies are organized but several fairs are held especially the International Folk and Handicraft fair.