Origin of Goddess Chamunda
According to Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, the Munda used to pay offerings to the goddesses in the form of animal as well as human sacrifices, along with ritualistic offerings of liquor. They are referred to as the Adivasi ethnic group of the Vindhya Range of Central India. It has been interpreted that Chamunda in the form of Devi was initially worshipped by them, as the tantric worship of Chamunda is known to comprise the above mentioned methods of worship. Gopal Bhandarkar also highlights the reason for the terrifying nature of this Devi, which is her association with Vedic Rudra. Vedic Rudra is known as Lord Shiva in modern Hinduism.
Associations of Goddess Chamunda with the City of Mysore
It is important to note that Mysore takes its name from Goddess Durga or Chamunda, ‘Mahishasura Mardini’. Mahishasura is known to be a powerful monster with the head of a buffalo and the body of a human. He has been mentioned in the Hindu Mythology as a combination of both an Asura and a Mahisha (aurochs) with trident, who aimed to annihilate all the Devas since they were the arch-enemies of Asuras. Demon Mahishasura came from bottom south and occupied the land of Mysore. The people of this region were therefore in danger. They prayed to Goddess Durga to save them and she came to their rescue during a sacred period which is now known as Navratri and Dushera. The battle between the Devi and Mahishasura continued for nine days on the Chamundi Hills. It was ultimately in the Hills, where he was slayed by the goddess. Goddess Chamunda is therefore known as Mysore’s guardian deity or a protector of the whole of Mysore since time immemorial. This classic tale of the forces of good defeating the forces of evil is what's celebrated in Dushera festival in Karnataka.
Mysuru is known to be adorned with historical palaces. They are such in number that this city is commonly described and popular as the ‘City of Palaces’. It is important to note that the term ‘Mysuru Palace’ specifically refers to palace located within the old fort. The palace was commissioned in the year 1897 and its construction was completed in the year 1912. This palace has been developed as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mysuru. Although tourist visitation is permitted within the palace, but the tourists are not allowed to take photographs inside the palace.
The palace structure is known to be constructed merging together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architecture. This three-storied stone structure is the official residence of the Wadiyars. They are identified as the erstwhile royal family of Mysuru. This palace is adorned with uniquely designed rooms (Public Durbar Hall, Private Durbar or Ambavilasa Palace, Gombe Thotti (Doll’s Pavilion), Kalyana Mantapa, Portrait Gallery and the Casket Room). Apart from these rooms, a prominent aspect of this palace is the deity called Chamunda.
Goddess Chamunda of Mysore Palace
Goddess Chamunda is considered to be the personal deity of the Mysore royal family. The idol of Chamunda residing in the Mysore Palace is depicted wearing a saree and riding a lion with a trident that she is holding in her powerful hands.
Associations of Goddess Chamunda with the Festival of Dasara
Goddess Chamunda gave the city of Mysore the very reason for celebrations by slaying Mahishasura. The Vijaynagara Kings are credited with the birth of the festivities associated with Dushera in the city of Mysore. These festivities were kept alive by the Wadiyars. During the bygone days of the monarchy, the festival of Dushera was characterized by uniformed soldiers and marching bands leading a retinue of courtiers, honored guests and a host of attendants. The Royal sword smeared with vermilion would ride in its own palanquin. The streets would be filled with people to get a glimpse of their king. The Chamunda would then journey on the golden howdah. The procession would also have decorated horses, jeweled elephants, adorned camels and cows.
Dushera is celebrated on the first day of Ashwiyja, which is the seventh month of the Hindu lunar calendar. This festival is celebrated around September or October every year. In the city of Mysore, this festival is marked by wrestling matches, acrobats and fireworks. On the tenth day, the demon is destroyed and the celebration is marked by a magnificent procession through Mysore. The beginning of the Parade is announced by the blow of conch shells and the trumpets. The parade is known to follow the same itinerary which was followed before independence.
Culture of Mysore
Kingdom Of Mysore
Legends of Goddess Durga
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