Gajapayana, the march of elephants from woods to the royal city of Mysuru, began on Sunday, signaling the commencement of world famous Dasara Mahotsava. Villagers and tribals assembled in large numbers to give a warm send-off to the jumbos.
Arjuna, who carried the golden howdah last time and the other four pachyderms Balaram, Abhimanyu, Kaveri and Vijaya were welcomed by the elected representatives, after performing traditional pooja at the auspicious Abhigna Lagna. Around 15 varieties of poojas were performed and jaggery, dry coconut, cane, panchaphala (five fruits) were offered to the elephants. The elephants were decorated with colourful flowers and ornaments.
Priest S V Prahalad started the rituals seeking blessings of Goddess Chamundeshwari. Shodashopachara puja and several other poojas were performed, he said.
As many as 51 women from Pakshirajpura, Nagapura, Ambedkar Nagar and Girijana Haddi enthusiastically took part in the celebrations and welcomed dignitaries.
Annapoorna, a villager, said: “I have been witnessing Gajapayana for the past 13 years. Following the drought, it was a low-key Dasara last year. It’s a delight to watch the jumbos dressed elegantly marching towards the city.”
Nagapura Girijana Ashrama schoolchildren performed Kadu Kuruba dance, while Centre School students of Tibetan Settlement, Gurupura, performed their traditional tibetan dance.
After showering flowers on the pachyderms, District Minister H C Mahadevappa said: “In the next one month, the jumbos will be trained hard. Dasara which has a history of 400 years depicts culture, tradition, integrity and oneness.”
The jumbos were transported in trucks from Nagapura to Aloka Palace near Yelwala. They will march towards Mysuru Palace on August 26. They will be provided with nutritious food for the next one and half months.