The most significant history of Dasara is it’s relation to the Vijaynagara Dynasty. The historians have detailed about the Vijayadashmi tradition in this region, and we can see that through empires arose and fallen.
The rituals and traditions haven’t died.Those human ideas are exquisite expressions, which has spread across the society, lived, propagated like a living organism, and still evolving in the modern day society.
Dasara was celebrated with great religious importance, devout and passion since the Vijaynagara times. Hampi;s Mahanavami Dibba and Hazara Rama Temple is the living evidence of the glorious past.
Side walls of Mahanavami Dibba
All along the side walls of the Mahanavami Dibba we can find sculptures of Wrestlers (Garadi or Kusti), Hunters, Horse traders, Camel traders, Gymnasts, other Street acts Jugglers, conjurers and illusionists, Dancers, Instrumentalists, singers, Kings, Door attendants, army chieftains, are speaking of the time begone, and great majesty of the Dasara celebrations.
Camel trading, Jugglers and street acts, Horse trading sculptures on side walls of Mahanavami Dibba
Animals,Wrestlers, Dancers sculptures on the side walls of Mahanavami dibba
Artists, Instrumental artists, Celebrations sculpture on the side wall of Hazararama Temple
Bhagawata, Mahabharata and Ramayana on the wall of Hazararama Temple
Hazara Rama being the most important diety of the Royal family of Vijayanagara, we can see that the Temple was built close to the palace complex. This temple also has beautifully designed sculptures of Bhagawata, Mahabharata and Ramayana stories. The outer walls of the temple, meaning The walls to East, North and West, have sculptures of Elephant rows, Horse rows, Camel rows, Army Knight team, Army Bishop team, Army Rooke team, swords and other short range weapons, and long range weapons batallion like the bows and arrows and other depictions of the then defense system.
Hazararama Temple and side walls of the temple
Apart from that Folk artists like, kolaata, dombaraata, wrestlers & gymnasts, Okali aata, instrumental artists playing Shenai and other musical instruments, Bharatanatya dancers, street dancers, monkey charmers and various other artists and performers from different parts of the kingdom and around.
Instrumental artists, Celebrations sculpture on the side wall of Hazararama Temple
This shows that, All the artists, the Royal defense and other people involving all hierarchies of the then living society was religiously involved with the celebrations and processions, as documented by Foreign travelers travelogues around the world.
Bharatesha Vaibhava, a great piece of Literature from RatnakaraVarni cites the Dasara celebration from the 14th-15th century A.D in it’s Chapter Mahanavami Sandhu.
If all this is the preserved historic evidence of a bygone time, another side of the story is the
survival of these traditions amongst the local culture and society for whom still Mahanavami is the most important annual festival.
Mahanavami, Dasara, Navaratri, Banni Habba, Hiriyara Habba are the synonyms for Dasara in Hampi region where this tradition is found to be followed even before the vijayanagra Kings. Foreign travellers who visited this region during the Vijayangara period have published their travelogues add to this available evidences and most important of them will be Abdur Razzak, Domingo Paes and Nuniz …
Nuniz’s description of Common folk’s dasara..
Their writings made references to the ‘great feast’ celebrated for nine days in what is inferred to be Dasara; the wrestling competitions, the musicians and dancers entertaining the court, the march of the caparisoned elephants, decorated horses, foot soldiers and the tableaux.
- ಶ್ರೀನಿವಾಸ್ ವಿ., 1983, ‘‘ವಿಜಯನಗರದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಹಾನವಮಿ’’, ದಸರಾ ಸಾಂಸ್ಕøತಿಕ ಉತ್ಸವ ಸ್ಮರಣ ಸಂಚಿಕೆ, ಮೈಸೂರು, ಪು. 25-29.
- A Forgotten Empire: Vijayanagar; A Contribution to the History of India by Robert Sewell
- Longhurst, 1917, Hampi Ruins, Described and Illustrated, Madras.
- John M. Fritz, George Mitchell, 1984, The Royal Centre at Vijayanagara A Preliminary report, Vijayanagara
- Progress of Research, Nagaraja Rao M.S. (E.d.,) Archaeology and Museums, Mysore.
- Hampi/Vijayanagara procession map