Kullu Dussehra – History of the Most Popular Festival

Kullu Dussehra

Kullu Dussehra is slightly different from the Dussehra celebrated in other parts of India due to its history and unique divine culture. Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. Dussehra marks the victory of good over evil. Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in the month of September or October. Hundreds of deities attend Kullu Dussehra. Dussehra is celebrated internationally in which people from all over the world visit the fair.

When and how did Kullu Dussehra start?

The Dussehra festival in Kullu was started in the 16th century during the time of the then Raja Jagat Singh (1637-1662). Their capital used to be Naggar, which is in Kullu.

Once someone told the king that ‘Durgadatta’ is a Brahmin from the ‘Tipri’ village of Manikarna. He has one and a half kg natural pearl. Now the king wondered what a Brahmin would do with so many pearls. This thing should be in the king’s treasury and the king sent his soldiers to fetch pearls from him. Where did that poor Brahmin have pearls? He didn’t really have any pearls. But due to the king’s orders, the soldiers started harassing him and his family. Troubled, the Brahmin locked his family and himself in the hut and set the hut on fire.

In this way, the Brahmin along with his family died by setting the fire. The reason for the complaint was just jealousy. The king was the cause of the death of the Brahmin and his family, so the king felt the sin of ‘Brahamhatya’. Due to this, the king saw blood and insects in his food. The king got leprosy. The king did much to get rid of it but to no avail. Some physicians tried, but there was no benefit from his medication. 

Finally, tired of the king reached ‘Kishan Baba’ of Jhiri and told him the whole thing. He suggested to the king that Ayodhya has idols of Lord Rama, Mother Sita and Hanuman. Bring them to Kullu and donate the kingdom at the feet of Lord Raghunath (Lord Rama). Then all your troubles will go away.

Lord Raghunath, Mother Sita and Hanuman
Image by @_jelboy

But there was another problem here, how to bring the idols from there?  At this, Damodar Das, a disciple of Mahatma Kishan Baba, was assigned this task. For some time Damodar Das became a disciple of the priest in Ayodhya. After taking full information in Ayodhya, he had the opportunity to steal the idols. He came to Kullu in 1651 with all three idols. The idols were kept in a village called ‘Makda’. 

In 1655, these idols were installed in the temple of Manikarna. On the other hand, the work of Raghunath Temple started in Kullu and was completed in 1660. Subsequently, the three idols were placed in the temple and the king got rid of leprosy with time. 

To thank Lord Raghunath, he donated his entire kingdom to Lord Raghunath. King Jagat Singh performed an ‘oblation’ in which he invited about 365 deities from his princely state and surroundings. When so many deities came, many people came with them. Thus Dussehra of Kullu was started. 

Gradually it became a custom and Kullu Dussehra’s fame spread to other states as well. Business people also started their fair.  Kullu Dussehra became a state-level festival in 1666. It was then announced to give it international status in 1970 but for some reason in 2017, Kullu Dussehra was given the status of an International festival.

In this way, the Dussehra of Kullu began and the same continues to this day.  Kullu Dussehra consists of hundreds of deities. Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in October at Dhalpur Maidan in Kullu. More than 4-5 lakh people come to the fair all over the world.

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