Cultural

India is certainly a country of festivals!  There are often small,  local festivals going on that you just stumble upon quite by accident!  One of India’s many charms.

Holi

The most famous festival which is usually early March but changes each year.  Holi is not widely celebrated in Southern India, so in Mysore you won’t see the scenes on the street that you may have seen in movies or documentaries of people throwing lots of coloured powders around.  Around schools and universities you will often find the students partaking in the festival, and we will be very happy to ensure you get out and about to the right places to see what you can.  Also any communities from North India living in Mysore are likely to be having a bit of play!  If Holi is a huge item on your list, then we would recommend a trip north for Holi either before or after your Skillstourism holiday.  While we don’t as yet offer trips up north, we are happy to offer advice on the best places to go.

Ganesha

Definitely the best known and probably the most loved deity in Hinduism.  He is easily recognised by his elephant head and is said to remove obstacles from our paths just as an elephants removes trees from it’s path in the jungle.   What’s not to love?

A 14 day festival every year honours Lord Ganesha.  It varies year to year as all festivals do, but is usually in August/September.  You will see pop up temples all over Mysore with Ganesha’s varying in size from small to absolutely huge.  Communities come together and worship him during the festival, and on the last day he is placed on the back of a truck and taken to the river to be immersed in the water.  While it’s not the most eco friendly festival, it is certainly a sight to behold.  The people from the temple form a procession in front of the vehicle and the men and boys carry drums and dance wildly to the beat as he moves off down the street.

We find ourselves rushing off in the evenings following the sound of the drums to find yet another Ganesha being loaded on a small truck and taken to the river.  The Indian Government is campaigning for people to chose eco friendly Ganesha’s as many of the large ones are made from plaster of paris and are very brightly coloured.  Not the best thing to let dissolve in the rivers of India.  Many are now made from clay, but as with many things it takes time for the change to come about.

If you join us in Mysore during the Ganesha Festival, we will take you on an evening tour to see pop up temples, large and small and follow a procession or two!

Diwali

The festival of lights!  Another well known festival outside of India and a lovely time to visit.  This festival is usually some time in October.  You can walk around the streets in the early evening and you will see people putting little oil lamps outside their houses, on their balconies, front fences, stairs.  The little lamps twinkle like fairy lights making an evening stroll a must during this festival.  The city of Mysore appears to be dripping with lights every where you look.  The wide city streets are lined with fairy lights.   The trees are wrapped in them, they are strung from pole to pole – it’s a magical sight to behold.

The other side of Diwali, is fireworks – lots of them!  All of the city throughout the festival people are letting off fireworks!  From our balcony we could see no less than 10 lots of fireworks going off in our neighbourhood each night.   Fireworks are readily available in India, and during Diwali pop up shops selling nothing but fireworks appear all over the city.  Be ready for lots of noise during this festival.  Might be a good idea to pack some earplugs!

If you choose to come on a holiday with us during Diwali, we will take you on a special evening tour  to see the lights all over the city and a walk through some of the neighbourhoods to see the way people adorn their homes too.

Dasara

Celebrated throughout India this festival celebrates the victory of good and truth over evil.  In Mysore it has been celebrated every year for more than 400 years.  It celebrates the local legend of the Goddess Chamandeeshwari  slaying the demon Mahishasuran.  The festival runs for 10 days culminating in the procession that starts at the Palace where the Royal Family pay homage to the Goddess, and an incredible procession makes it’s way from the Palace grounds through the city to a parade ground.

The procession is made of up 12 decorated elephants, one who carries the 750kg golden mantapa (altar) and the Goddess, all manner of dancers dressed as animals or in traditional dress, marching bands and floats.

The parade through the city culminates in a Torch Light Parade featuring a Military Parade, Daredevil Motorcycle riders performing amazing stunts, gymnasts and the local Police force provide the closing act with a spectacular display of coordination and skill twirling their fire torches in the air.

For any of our customers who join us on a holiday during Dasara, we will arrange for you to attend the Dasara Parade and the Torchlight Parade.   If you want an idea of what you are in for, take a look at google images, or wait and let it be a surprise.   It’s more exciting than it sounds and the atmosphere in Mysore during the festival is wonderful!