From the 29th of September to the 1st of October, volunteers from all over India and I came together at Mysore to celebrate Dussehra, a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil.
My travel group and I could only make it to the end of the festival and therefore, couldn‘t take part in the other events that were happening, e.g. a big light-show at the Mysore palace. When we arrived, the city itself was very crowded at the time and everything was decorated with festive and colorful lights that lit up at night.
At the end of the festival, there is a big elephant parade in the middle of the city, at which thousands of people gather around to witness. At that time, the city is completely shut down and all the streets are closed, which makes it hard to reach the destination of the parade.
We took about an hour even to reach the centre of the city. When we arrived, we were taken to a closed area where all the foreigners were seated. This was a little different for us because the foreigners and the Indians were separated into 2 groups who sat in front of each other, with the street separating us.
The parade itself is about 3 hours long and moves through a big part of the city. At the parade, beautifully colored elephants walk through and some groups will perform dances, athletics, or show their amazing costumes in honor of the Hindu goddess Chamundeshwari who killed the demon Mahishasura. Temples are also represented with amazingly decorated replicas.It was really impressive to see all of the different costumes and performances.
When the parade was over, we (the volunteers) all got together and had a nice dinner where we could talk about everything that has been going on for the last few months and exchange our experiences in different projects and areas.
We also visited the palace, but since most people had the same idea to go there, it was really full and we were mostly dragged through it. But we still enjoyed our stay there and at night time the palace even lit up in honor of the festival. In the evening, we went up to Chamundi Hills to have a view of the city. From there, we noticed that Mysore isn‘t even that big.
For the rest of the festival, most volunteers like us spent their time at Adil & Azim, a little shop in the market where since a few years, volunteers gather to meet and also have a nice chat and some chai with Adil himself.
All in all, we enjoyed our stay in Mysore, were amazed by the greatness of the festival and will definitely plan to come back.