Madikeri Dasara plays a very vital role in the history of Karnataka state. The festival has its unique significance and own popularity. Dasara festival is neither interfered by political power, nor influenced by government bodies Irrespective of the caste, creed and religion, this festival is celebrated all over the world without any racial discrimination. Hence the name JANOTHSAVA.
Madikeri Dasara has a very prominent history. It is believed that from the place named Ikkeri in Shimoga, a family from Haaleri dynasty had visited Coorg with the main intension of conquering a kingdom in Coorg. It was during this time, the word Vijayadashami came into existence. Then ruler of CoorgDoddaveeraRajendra used to celebrate AyudhaPooja, Sri Devi Pooja and Navarathri like how the kings in Mysore used to celebrate in those years i.e., 1781 to 1809.
During Those days, the prince used to wake up early morning, have a holy bath, take a vow to celebrate Navarathri, He used to perform special pooja for KoteGanapathy within the fort premises before the actual inauguration of the Navarathri festival.
All the cultural programmes were performed at the palace corridor. Along with the cultural programmes, horse and elephant rides, programmes depicting Kodava tradition were also held during the day time.
Bhajans, Prayers, special Poojas and Abhishekas were chanted in most of the temples on Vijayadashami. JambuSawaari was one of the prime focus during Dasara, which commenced form Madikeri fort. God’s idol and the King were present on either sides of the JambuSawaari. The elephants, surrounded by horse, soldiers and the people of Coorg with their traditional attire also joined the procession. The procession used to cover all the main streets of Madikeri town and end in BanniMantap near Mahadevpet.
But this idea of Maharaja’s Navarathri festival had not lasted for many years. In the year 1834, when the King(ruler) of Kodagu, Chikka Veera Rajendra was captivated by the British, Navarathri festival become the festival for the general public. During this period, Bhajna Mandirs played a significant role in promoting the Navarathri festival. People had a strong belief, when KoteMariyamma protected the Madikeri Fort, Kunduru Motte Chowti Mariyamma guarded the entire city, Dandina Maariyamma safeguarded the entire army and soldiers while Kanchi Kaamakshamma had the power to give good health and wealth to all the worshippers, all the four goddess popularly known for its power(Shakthi Devathe) were worshipped among the people.
The diety was kept inside the mantap which was made out of bamboo shoot. When the women used to take care of the dieties in the palace men used to carry the Mantaps in the procession. The procession would go for hours together with the Kodava traditional music called Vaalaga and dance. The festival used to come to an end with the cutting of Banni in a place near Mahadevpet in Madikeri.
Dated back to the past years, Dasara festival has been celebrated right from the period of Haaleri Kings until today; it is a great history indeed. It is said that even during the period of second world war, Dasara, festival did not find any obstacles on its way unlike other festivals, Though the Britishers had hard and fast rules in celebrating different festivals, this rule had not applied to Dasara. Infact, over the years, the festival had lots of improvements and was moving towards the path of development.
Even though there were only four Mantaps in the initial stages, gradually the number of Mantaps increased over the years. During the year 1958, a person named Bheem Singh Had visited Madikeri from Rajasthan and included a Mantap called Raghu Rama Mantap of Bane motte. Along with the four powerful Goddess, Shree Pete Ramamandira, Ramamandira of Dechoor and BalakaRamamandira of chickpet were included in the procession. The number of mantaps increased drastically from 4 to 5, 5 to 7, 7 to 9 and 9 to 11. Though the number of Mantaps had increased to 11, it was decided by the DasaraSamithi to limit upto 10 Mantaps- Called DASHAMANTAPA.
Jana means people, Utsava means Function. Thus the word Janothsava means function involved with people. Though the procession in the Dasara festival had traditional and religious approach, it did not have much of public involvement. During the year 1969, then president of the municipality, K.S Appachu, for the first time formed Dasara Samithi. After the formation of this samithi, there was much scope for unity between bajana mandirs and the Karaga Temples through procession. This gave an opportunity for the people of Coorg to be involved in such a great event.
The dias that was put up in the private bus stand served as a platform for various cultural events and programmes. Each of the Mantap was given a specific time period to play their taboo. Considering the various factors such as time since, creativity, story of the taboo etc., prizes were also distributed which is present even today.
The Mantap of Pete Shri Rama Mandira plays a very prime role since no other Mantaps can leave from their temples unless and until Pate Shri Rama Mandira Reaches with the Mangalavaadya and the Kalasha. In the same manner, none of the Karagas can leave their respective temples and join the procession, unless and until Shri Chowti Maariyamma does the unveiling of the Karaga, in the procession. All the Karagas along with the Mantapas has to proceed towards the cutting of Banni only after receiving the blessings from the priest. Hence, the palanquin taken from Pete Shri Rama Mandira, proceeds through procession to Shri Chowti Mariyamma temple, performs Karaga Pooja receives the blessings and then proceeds to Shri Kanchi Kaamakshamma temple, performs Pooja and finally moves towards Dandina Maariyamma temple. At the same time, Karaga of Kote Maariyamma reaches near Dandina Maariyamma temple. After the completion of all these rituals there will be a special Kalasha Pooja by Pete Shri Rama mandira followed by Procession.
The ten Mantaps in the procession during the recent years includes Shri Kundurumotte Chowti Maariyamma, Shri Dandina Maariyamma, Shri Kote Maariyamma, Shri Kanchi Kaamakshamma, Shri Kodanda Rama Mandira, Shri Chowdeshwari, Shri Dechooru Rama mandira, Karawale Bhadaga Shri Bhagavathi and Shri Kote Ganapathi.
Earlier, each Mantap was created with the estimated figure of 5 to 10 thousand. But, at present, the Mantapas are created with the estimated figure of ten to twelve lakhs. The entire town will be decorated with colourful lights. The procession will include not only the colourful lights but also an historical story or a event which depicts the scene from the ancient mythologies.
The Gandhi Maidan will be over crowded with people because of the various cultural programmes happening on the Dias. Each and every human being gets a feeling of Heaven on Earth on this day of auspicious occasion with the main intension of attracting more number of people to the Dasara festival, the Dasara samithi of Madikeri strives hard in bringing up co-curricular activities such as sports, seminars and other talent shows.
There are special tour packages during the Dasara season in order to attract more number of tourists. It is for this reason, there will be special buses from Mysore to Madikeri during this particular season.
It is a very unforgettable and memorable moment in each an everyone’s life who have visited Madikeri Dasara. The beauty of Madikeri Dasara have increased day by day because of the huge tourist inflow.