How Dussehra is celebrated in Bastar: Bastar Dussehra Travel Guide.
You will celebrate Bastar Dussehra if you want to be part of the World's longest festival and witness an authentic tribal culture.
Here, there’s nothing to do with the Ramayana and the victory of King Rama.
Bastar Dussehra is all about the Tribes, their Maharaja and their Gods and Goddesses.
It’s also the longest festival of the World, celebrated for 75 days.
As there’s only a few information available, I’ve decided to begin a series on Bastar Dussehra.
Through my HD videos and pictures, I’ll decode for you the Tribal Dussehra of Bastar District.
Today, I’ll tell you the essentials about Bastar Dussehra.
When the Dussehra of Bastar District starts in 2017
Bastar Dussehra begins with the dark moon in the month of Shravan (end of July) and ends on the thirteenth day of the bright moon in the month of Ashwin (October).
Although there are 12 main events during the whole period, the last ten days, overlapping with Navratri, are the most interesting and festive.
If you want to celebrate Bastar Dussehra in 2017, you will have to be in Jagdalpur before the 21st of September.
Where the Dussehra of Bastar is celebrated
The main festivities take place in Jagdalpur, the administrative headquarter of the Southern district of Bastar in Chhattisgarh.
So, Jagdalpur is the best place to stay during Bastar Dussehra.
The nearby town of Dantewada, in the eponymous district, also hosts some important rituals and can be reached by bus from Jagdalpur.
You can reach Jagdalpur:
*by train via Odisha (Vizag or Bhubaneswar line). Eg a flight to Vishakapatnam then a train from there to Jagdalpur. Favourite option.
*by bus or car from Raipur, the state capital or Odisha. Eg a flight to Raipur then a bus or private car to Jagdalpur. Scaring option.
The nearest airport is in Raipur.
What does Bastar Dussehra celebrate
Bastar Dussehra is devoted to Devi Danteshwari, the clan Goddess of the Kakatiya rulers of Bastar.
The legend says she helped the first non-tribal King, Amman Deo from Warangal, in the XIV’s century.
He was conquering new lands and the Goddess promises her protection if he never looked back.
When they arrived in Dantewada, the King didn’t hear the sound of the Goddess’ anklets anymore. He turned back and the Goddess told him she would stop here.
He built a temple for the Goddess and continued his war.
He chose her as the Goddess of his clan.
This temple is also one of the Shakti Peeths.
Why Bastar Dussehra is celebrated
In the XIIth century, the King of Bastar, Purushotam, was so devoted to Lord Jagannath of Puri, that he walked all the way from his capital Bade Dongar to Puri’s temple.
One year later, when he arrived, he offered so many gifts, gold and offerings than the God appeared in the temple priest’s dream. He asked him to give him the title of Rath Pati (head of a chariot) and a chariot from Puri’s rath festival.
As the chariot had 16 wheels, the King decided to return 4 wheels back to Jagannath. This 4 wheels chariot is used during Goncha festival.
The 12 wheels chariot was divided in two, one from 8 wheels, one from 4. They are alternatively used during Bastar Dussehra. In 2017, it will be the 4 wheels chariot, and the Tribes will build a 8 wheels one.
It was under King Dalpat Deo in the XVIIth century that Dussehra started being celebrated in the new capital, Jagdalpur.
The King gave a different function to each tribe and community. It didn’t change until now.
It celebrates both Goddess Danteswari and her sister, Maoli, but also the Tribal Gods and Goddesses.
Who celebrates Bastar Dussehra
The festival involves the different tribes of the district.
The Maharaja of Bastar leads the ceremony and festivities, as the head of the community and the priest.
The whole population of the district loves to participate in the rituals that are deeply influenced by the religious beliefs and customs of the Tribes.
You will meet:
- Bison Horn Marias
- Abujh (Hill) Marias
How is Bastar Dussehra celebrated
The festival looks like the life of the Tribal people of the state, deeply connected to their Gods and Goddesses, Nature, their jungle, beliefs and customs.
You will see the leaders (Gaitas) of the villages wearing their red turban, the mediums (Gunias) and witch doctors (Sirahas) in a trance, the men wearing the local Gods in different shapes. The much-revered shape of God is called Anga Deo and can have a ladder like shape (Doli) or even a stick, stone or tree.
You will witness some Tribal customs that didn’t change, like their devotion to the music, dance, song, magic, the use of their sacred instruments.
You will participate in the same rituals than 400 years ago.
You know now the essentials about Bastar Dussehra, the World’s longest Festival from the tribal state of Chhattisgarh.
PS: If you’re convinced you should discover the World’s longest festival, read my article to know everything you need to prepare your trip in the Tribal Chhattisgarh.
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Have you ever celebrated a festival that impressed you by its difference and rituals? Use the comments section below to tell us.
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Stephanie Langlet is called Indie, the female Indiana Jones by her French readers.
She helps the travellers to feel comfortable outside of their comfort zone and to travel closer to the people and culture.
She is a Trip Planner and a Hospitality and Management Consultant.
Fond of the Tribes and Minorities, she’s specialised since 2012 in the tribes and festivals of Central India and have collaborated with Chhattisgarh Tourism Board to promote it. She’s often interviewed by the Indian medias.
In 2015, she was recognised as one of the Top 6 foreign bloggers about India by Holidify, and as an influencer for Chhattisgarh by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board.
She also runs her own guesthouse in the south-west of France, from May to October.
From November to April 2017, she will be in India to work on a fair trade guesthouses project with her Indian associates.