Kullu Dussehra begins amidst ‘dhur’ controversy


By Vivian Tandon

Kullu: The great congregation of the divine and the temporal, the Kullu Dussehra, started with traditional fervour and some newly-added malevolence too at the Dhalpur ground here. Mired by controversy surrounding `non-godly’ conduct of few deities, or their consorts, the celebrations anyway resonated in the wind-swept valley as thousands of devotees moved with the chariot of Lord Raghunath.
This year, only 196 deities marked their presence on the opening day of the 10-day festivities compared to last year’s figure of 206, thus indicating at the centuries-old tradition falling weak with every passing year.
Traditionally, around 500 deities from the valley used to participate in the event, but the downtrend started in 1972 when a shooting incident had nearly ended the Dussehra celebrations. For the following few years no deity had participated in the ceremony, but slowly the tradition again picked up, and had lately been marred by another controversy regarding the seating arrangement of some deities. Last year it had also led to violence as
followers of Balunag and Shringa Rishi had clashed with police to be on the
`right hand side of Lord Raghunath’.
This time, the administration had barred these two deities from attending the Dussehra, but the two anyway reached Kullu to pay obeisance to Lord Raghunath. The two deities were kept under observation by the local administration, but trouble started after followers of another deity, Rialunag, managed to lay their hands of the ‘dhur’, which was not taken
kindly by followers of Lakshminarayan.
Unmindful of the controversy, thousands of devotees and tourists too made it a point to be at a vantage point during the Rath-yatra’. The evening was marked by cultural programmes presented by local artistes and celebrity entertainers from rest of the country.


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