Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the elaborate parade associated with Karnataka’s state festival Dasara, or the Nada Habba as it is called locally – a massive draw for tourists – is likely to stay restricted to its starting point, the Mysuru Palace.
The decision was taken at a meeting of ministers and officials convened by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa to discuss protocols ahead of the 10-day festival from October 17.
“Pageantry surrounding Mysuru’s Dasara festival has been cut down and will be celebrated very simply. Coronavirus will be with us for a long time and we will have to live with Covid-related restrictions until we have vaccine. But life has to go on; there will be festivals… Utmost precautions will be taken. We are trying to ensure people’s safety. People are cooperating and understanding of the situation,” Deputy Chief Minister Dr Ashwath Narayan told NDTV.
Traditionally, Mysuru’s Vijayadashami procession – famous for its music, dance, floats and ornately decorated elephants – starts from the erstwhile royal residence of Mysuru Palace, winds through its streets to end at a place called the Banni Mantap, where the hardy Banni tree (prosopis cineraria) is worshiped.
In a normal year, Mysuru’s Dasara procession would draw thousands of tourists to the city of palaces. However, this year there will be no procession, Yuva Dasara (a youth festival), food fest, sports or any cultural events, but the Mysuru Place and the city will be illuminated as usual.
The decision comes in the backdrop of warnings by health experts and Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan against gathering in large numbers during festivals to avoid any “superspreader events”.
“There is no need to congregate in large numbers to prove your faith or your religion… You can pray to your gods at your homes. I would suggest that all of you celebrate festivals with your families,” Dr Harsh Vardhan had said recently.
The Karnataka government, in keeping with new Central guidelines, has permitted gatherings as long as rules are followed. Besides prohibiting celebrations in containment zones, the central government guidelines require event organisers to ensure social distancing and prevent crowding.
However, violations of Covid safety norms have been rampant.
Karnataka has crossed 7 lakh coronavirus cases and has recorded over 10,000 deaths. Its capital Bengaluru has more than 2.8 lakh cases with over 3,300 deaths.