Interestingly, after the entire country winds up the Dussehra
celebrations Kullu [also known as the Valley of 
Living Gods] comes alive
with Dussehra celebrations.  The festival begins on the 10th
day of the rising moon, which falls on ‘Vijay Dashmi day’ and continues
for a good 7 days.  Kullu Dusshehra is a beautiful amalgamation of
history, art, culture and customs.
Legend has it that it all began
way back in 1637 A. D. when Raja Jagat Singh ruled the Valley. One day,
the Raja upon hearing that a peasant Durga Dutt of village Tipri owned
beautiful pearls wanted to get his hands on them. Durga Dutt tried to
convince the Raja that the he owned no pearls, but the Raja would not
hear of it.
The Raja gave him a one last chance. Durga got scared
 of the Raja’s wrath and burnt his entire family in the house they lived
in. He also cursed the Raja for being so cruel, this in turn led to the
Raja contracting leprosy which is when he realised he was wrong to have
suspected Durga.

Photo Courtesy: Abasar

Kishan
Das [also known as Fuhari Baba] advised the King to install the idol of
Lord Raghunath to get rid of the curse. He sent a Brahmin to steal the
idol from Ayodhya and installed it in Kullu. The people of Ayodhya
attempted to take Ragunath’s idol back, but it became so heavy and they
were unable to take it back to Ayodhya, and surprisingly, the idol
became very light when headed to Kullu. On reaching Kullu Ragunath was
installed as the reigning deity of the Kullu kingdom. This is how
Dussehra came to be celebrated in Kullu. On the 1st fortnight
of Ashwini month, the Raja welcomes all 365 Gods & Goddesses of the
Valley to Dhalpur to perform a Yagna in Lord Raghunath’s honor.
On the 1st
day- Goddess Hadimba of Manali comes down to Kullu. She is the Goddess
of the royal family of Kullu. Lord Raghunath’s idol is saddled around
Goddess Hadimba and they are placed in a Rath (a chariot) that has been
adorned beautifully. They then wait for the signal from Mata Bhekhli,
from atop the hill. All the devotees help pull the rath that has been
decorated. Nearly 100 Gods and Goddesses are placed on the several
palanquins and taken on procession. It is said that Gods & Goddesses
have descended from Heaven to Earth.

Photo Courtesy: Creative Commons/maverickvarun

On
the very last day of the festival, the chariot is taken to the banks of
River Beas where grass and wood are burnt symbolizing the burning of
Lanka [as told in Ramayana]. There is also the local custom of
sacrificing animals that follows this ritual.
Being in Kullu during Dussehra is a surreal experience, and  shows the other side of the valley, one that not many are aware of.

This post was featured on ClubMahindra’s Blog