Located on the banks of the Chambal River, Kota celebrates a number of festivals. However, the festival of Dussehra bears a distinct appeal altogether. The whole area boasts an attractive during this festival. This festival is celebrated all over the country but the Kota Dussehra is quite unique for it is more than just the beginning of a festive period.
More than 75 feet tall effigies of the demons Ravana, Kumbhakarana and Meghnad are burnt on Dussehra day to symbolise the victory of good over evil. Usually these effigies are filled with crackers. A young child dressed as Lord Ram is made to shoot an arrow of fire at Ravana and the huge figure is burnt. Villagers gather here dressed in multi colored clothes to offer prayers to Lord Rama and to celebrate his victory over Ravana.
Prominent artistes from all over the country are invited to participate in cultural programmes who enthral the huge audience with their performances. Rich in courtly splendour and age old traditions, the Dussehra festival here is marked by a glittering procession which attracts thousands from the surrounding villages.
Like all festivals in Rajasthan, it provides a good opportunity to the traders to display their attractive wares to the rural and urban buyers. Small effigies of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakhsman are very common works of sculpture.
The Dussehra Fair of Kota, popularly known as Dussehra Mela, is the most important event in the cultural calendar of the city. The history of this Dussehra fair goes back to 1723 AD. History tells that the celebration of Dussehra was started in the reign of Mahrao Durjanshal Singh Hada. At that time various religious programs at different temples were the main event of the ceremonies. Apart from this tradition of processions with royal splendor and the “Darikhana”, a royal meet of different Thikanedaars at the Palace, also started in the same period. During the State time the period of Dussehra festival was 3 days and the height of effigies of Ravan and his family was between 20 to 25 feets. This tradition was continued by the other Hada rulers. But the credit of making this religious event more attractive and colorful goes to Maharao Ummed Singh II (1889-1940 A.D.) Since then the festivities have changed manifolds. Now the Dussehra fair is observed for 25 days. The height of the effigies of Ravan and his family has been raised to 75 Feet.
Along with religious programs, many cultural programs have also become part of this astonishing event. On Vijayadashmi, somebody representing the erstwhile royal family shoots an arrow toward the effigy of Ravan which depicts the death of Ravan by the hands of Ram. More than 1 Lac people from Kota and nearby villages reach Dussehra Maidan to witness this event. From the next day onward the series of cultural programs starts. Prominent artists from all over the country are invited to participate in various cultural programmes. The events include Cine Sandhya, Kavi Sammelan, Sindhi cultural programme, Bhajan Sandhya, Rajasthani folk music and dance programme, all-India mushaira, Punjabi programme, qawwali night, Bhojpuri Night etc.
Watch Kota Dussehra Mela Documentary to have a look at what you are going to experience at in Kota (Rajasthan) during Dussehra Mela.