Mysuru Mayor gets a crash course on horse riding to lead Jumboo Savari
Mysuru: Ask any horse riding expert and he will say that you will need at least six months to learn to ride a horse safely. But our Mayor Pushpalatha Jagannath does not have six months to learn horse riding and she has to complete it in less than one month.
She will lead the world famous Jumboo Savari on Oct. 8, marking the end of the 10-day Dasara celebrations on a horseback. And to achieve this feat, she is undergoing a crash course and three horse riding experts are assisting her every day. She has begun her practice sessions yesterday and every day she has to ride a horse from 6 am to 7 am.
Rising up even before 5 am, Pushpalatha reaches the Mounted Police Company Horse Park opposite City Armed Reserve Grounds near Golf Club where the practice sessions are held. It is here, all horse riding practices go on for any major or regular event in Mysuru.
Every Dasara, Mysuru Mayor is expected to lead a procession of Dasara elephants with the main elephant (Arjuna now) carrying the 750-kg Golden Howdah. While Arjuna will lead a contingent of 12 to 14 Dasara elephants, the procession will also have over 10 horses, more than 15 tableaux, over 50 folk dance groups and traditional drummers from the Mysore Palace to Bannimantap, covering a distance of five kilometres.
Watching the Mayor pilot the procession astride a horse would be four to five lakh spectators inside the Palace premises and thousands more lining the streets along the route. If Arjuna, carrying the Golden Howdah and the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari inside, is the cynosure of all eyes, the Mayor too is a centre of attraction. And this time, it is a woman Mayor for Mysuru and she will be watched by millions including those watching her on TVs and giant LED screens set up in city.
Mayors, Mysuru’s First Citizens, leading Jumboo Savari on horseback is a more than 30-year-old tradition. Usually, a Mayor gets at least two months learn to ride a horse before Dasara. Pushpalatha has less than a month to learn the feat and complete that successfully. She has to rein in her fears and ride the horse.
Wearing salwar-kameez, a rider’s coat, and helmet and riding boots, Pushpalatha Jagannath practices rigorously and she is assisted by Reserve Sub-Inspector R. Suresh, ARSI Rangarasu and V. Venkatesh. She will be riding Indian-bred stud ‘Toral’ on the procession day and she now practices with a horse that is named ‘Nobel Laureate’. A few days before Vijayadashami, she will also ride and practice on Toral.
She will learn the basics of horse riding –holding the reins and controlling the horse through the straps and use of her legs. To acclimatise the horse with the rider and the rider with the horse, Pushpalatha is taught first to feed the horse with her hand. She is told to carefully feed it vegetables and horse gram as there are chances of the animal biting her hand. Later, she climbs the horse from a concrete platform specially set up for the purpose. Gradually, she will learn to mount the horse on her own, the trainers said.
Along with the Mayor the Mounted Police team that performs during the famed Torchlight Parade at Bannimantap as part of the grand finale of Dasara is also practicing at the Horse Park.