A region with an enthralling world of local divinities, their powers and tribal-centric festivals; an efficient blend of natural beauty with spirituality, Bastar is the most obliging region of Chhattisgarh. The place calls for you to mix yourself up in the slowly stepped life and a vibrant tribal atmosphere. The place offers you to get through a piece of the ancient culture and customs, which is something of stupendous value for a traveler. Amongst the cultural events of the District of Bastar, the 75-day Bastar Dussehra is the most insightful and talked about. The festival begins in the month of August and ends in the month of October. Unlike the rest of the India, the Dussehra here is not about Lord Rama and the Devil King, Ravana.
What is Bastar Dussehra?
It is 75-days long variation of the festival of Vijayadashami or Dussehra and is blithely celebrated in the Bastar region. Bastar is located in the Dandakarnya region of Chattisgarh, where Lord Rama is said to spent his 14 years of banishment. Although the Dussehra has nothing to do with Lord Rama or the Ramayana, it holds a distinguished individuality of itself, which is rather unparalleled from anywhere else in the country. Instead of burning immense statue of Devil King Ravana and celebrating the victory of good over evil with regular customs, the aboriginal people of Bastar celebrate the occasion by hailing Devi Maoli, the native deity of the region, and Devi Danteshwari, the household goddess of the ruling Kaktiya family.
According to the folklore, the history of Bastar Dussehra dates back to the 15th century. The Kaktiya ruler, King Purushottam Deo made a visit to the Jagannath Puri temple and returned as the “Rath-pati”. He had the “divine permission” to bestride the holy chariot. The tradition is well followed even today as the king of the tribe, being the high priest Devi Danteshwari gives up his office for 10 days and worships Devi Danteshwari.
How to reach the Bastar Dussehra’s destination?
As the main festival is celebrated in the Jagdalpur- the administrative home office on the southerly territory of Basar in Chhatisgarh, you need to get here first as it’s the best place to stay during the festival. The nearby town of Dantewada hosts some significant rituals, as well and can be arrived at by bus from Jagdalpur. You can also reach Jagdalpur by train, through Orissa(Vishakhapatnam or Bhubaneshwar). Say you can take a flight from Vishakhapatnam and then a train from there to Jagdalpur. As a second option, you can also consider a flight to Raipur. From there, you can hire a private car or take a bus to reach Jagdalpur.
Rituals performed in the Bastar Dussehra.
There are various rituals performed during the Dussehra. It begins on the 14th of August with Patra Jatra, the worship of wood, followed by the Deri Gadhai– the putting up of pillars. The procession then goes on to the Kanchan Gaadi– the throne of the Goddess Kanchan Devi, the Kalash Sthapana- installation of the urns, Jogi Bithai– Jogi’s penance, the Rath Parikrama– the chariot tour, Nisha Jatra- the nocturnal festival, Jogi Uthai- getting up of the Jogi, Maoli Parghav– reception of Devi Maoli, Bheetar Raini– the intimate lap, Baahar Raini- the outer lap, Kachan Jatra– blessing ceremony, Muria Durbar– the tribal head men’s group discussion and lastly on the final day, Ohadi– a farewell with the gods. On the whole, these celebrations take place between Hareli Amavasya, the 13th day of the full moon of Aswin, which is said to bring more joy to the tribal people.
A four-wheeled chariot is decked up with flowers and is drawn on the second day to the seventh day. Before, the king used to sit on the chariot with a turban of flowers; but nowadays, the chariot only carries the Chattra- the umbrella of Goddess Danteshwari Devi. On the 10th day of the Vijayadashmi, the chariot covers an inner circuit and on the 12th day, a thanksgiving ceremony is organized to mark the conclusion of the festival, offering prayers to Goddess Danteshwari Devi.
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