Dasara-2022: Old wine in new bottle
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Dasara-2022: Old wine in new bottle

October 7, 2022

By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC

The Dasara-2022 has come and gone.  62 troupes, 48 tableaux, over 1,500 artistes,  a logistic nightmare. I should congratulate the District Administration for managing this event without a hitch as I am writing this article. Except for the lighting of the roads, the Food Festival, Flower Show and to some extent the vintage car rally which was commendable, did you notice anything different this year?

Of course, as usual all the officials and the netas will claim the grand success of this event. For them photos of the milling crowd is sufficient proof of the success of the event. This event is supposed to bring tourists both international and domestic back to Mysuru in droves. The event is over. Is it happening?  The answer is a resounding “No.”

How many opinion-makers visited Dasara this season? How many travel writers visited this Dasara season? How many ceos of top-notch companies made beeline for Dasara? Hardly any. Mysuru has become a cheap destination.

Dasara is a lifeline for all the people living in the surrounding villages and small towns. So they all make this “Jatre” year after year irrespective of the money spent on the event.  For any tourist destination to prosper, it is important to have at least 30 percent of visitors in high end category.  This is missing at Mysuru. All high end tourists are giving it a miss and going to Coorg and Chikmagalur. International travel is down to a trickle.

I watch national news and financial news regularly. Surprised not a mention of the Mysuru Dasara but extensive coverage of Kolkata’s Durga Puja regularly in all national TVs. Why? An absolute failure of the PR Department of the Department of Tourism. Extensive coverage in only Kannada channels is not going to bring in new tourists to Mysuru.   

I do not blame the officials concerned. Dasara Sub-Committees were formed just 45 days back. What  can one expect? As I had predicted, old files were dusted and the same old programmes were put in place. So much so, several artistes who had been announced for the events gave it  a miss ! Yes,  Mysuru was milling with crowds. But please ask the stakeholders of the tourism industry. Were the hotels full on all the days of Navarathri or only on last 3 days of Dasara?

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Did the shopkeepers make money by way of increased sales or the crowds just did window shopping? The  travel trade is furious. Why in spite of having a huge budget not  a single advertisement by way of TV commercial was put up in any major metro cities? I do not blame the Tourism Department. They just do not have any 30 seconds TV footage. Had the Department commissioned any professional photographer to take photos of this event ? 

Majority of the crowd on the last 3 days will be from Bengaluru and nearby towns around Mysuru. Why was the Tourism Minister absent on all the major days of the festival ?  Where are the so-called foreign tourists ?  The invitation card of the so-called Tourism Day festivity was full of politicians and not a single travel industry stalwart was invited. Why?

So many questions and no answers. I was told that about 300 foreign tourists were present for the event.  Showing off yoga and University students as foreign tourists is an old  ruse resorted by the officials to please the bosses. Why the gold cards were not printed on time? Gold cards were printed after the inauguration due to the hue and cry resorted to by the industry body.

During Dasara, at least some roads get repaired but this time with the arrival of the President of India, the same roads which had been repaired for PM Modi’s trip was redone. So we have to wait for another vvip to come to Mysuru to get some more roads asphalted!

I do have a complaint with the local travel associations too. Why have they not taken the initiative to invite top travel agents and travel writers and honour them on this occasion? Why depend on the Government for everything?

 A peculiar trait was noticed at the Yuva Dasara this year. A section of the crowd continuously shouted “Kannada song haadi” to senior Hindi playback singers. Many a singers like Sonu Nigam obliged but others were embarrassed. New trend. Maybe Mysureans prefer local artistes who can belt out               Kannada songs. 

The only way this mess can be sorted out is by announcing  a “Permanent Dasara Committee” with a few local well-informed citizens a part of it. The whole show can be conceptualised by January and executed perfectly with some new ideas and vision. The Prince in his silver chariot with about 200 men dressed up in the traditional attire with spears etc., should be a part of the procession. Heritage sells. Anyone listening?

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Recently I was reading with interest a suggestion put forward by the industry body to start a direct train from Mysuru to Goa. Excellent idea. Goa gets about 100 charters every year who stay for 15 days in Goa. When I was heading the Ashok travel and tours in New Delhi, I had met several charted companies who suggested that after about 12 days on the beach several tourists get bored and some of them at least want to explore heritage city nearby for 3 days.  Mysuru is the only city nearby Goa that can offer Palace, wildlife, temples etc., to  foreign tourists at a single destination. So, if there is a daily train from Goa with “vistadome coaches” apart from a direct flight, this market can be tapped. Since the route passes through several famous temple towns, this can improve our domestic travel too. Our   MP Pratap Simha, who has been responsible for several new initiatives, can consider this idea too.

Bcci is keen to develop a stadium in Mysuru. Even if two or three matches are held every year, tourism will bloom multi-fold. Since  live telecast of every match is done to nearly all cricket loving countries, what is the hitch?

Devaraja Market, Lansdowne building, Town Hall… When will the administration take a decision either way. If they are looking for a consensus, it will never come. Vested interests.

What is the status of the Film City planned at Mysuru ? Unless the plan is finalised every Minister in Karnataka would try to take it away to their city. Why not invite Disney or Universal Studio for this project? The Chief Minister could have invited some industry czars like Adani, Ambani or Mittal for the Vijayadashami procession and honoured them. Imagine the PR coup.

Rural tourism, medical tourism, yoga tourism…the list is endless. You spend Rs. 35 crore instead of Rs. 25 crore. Does it make Dasara grander ? This charade has to end. Have we missed the bus this year too?

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16 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Dasara-2022: Old wine in new bottle”

  1. Ajay says:

    Nice article. I agree that Mysore Dasara has become a local “Jatre”. Nothing worthwhile to see. For a first timer, it may be seem exciting but later you won’t feel like experiencing it again. The various human and animal figures at the flower show were pathetic. Was a statue of President of India required at a flower show? The statue didn’t even resemble her. What’s the need for so many statues of late actors. Can’t they be more creative think beyond them? We already have many statues all over Mysore. The stalls at Aahara Mela were dishing out usual chats and other dishes that you can find in your neighborhood (most of the items were over-priced and quality wasn’t good either). The less we speak about Yuva Dasara and tableaux, the better. Government conducts Mysore Dasara just for sake for doing it as it is a yearly tradition. In India tourism is not taken seriously. Even Ministry of Tourism is not considered an important department.

  2. Subbu says:

    Right said sir. This year the whole show looks like – for the politicians, of the politicians, by the politicians. Mysore has lot going for it. We need to make it grander, greater, and wider. But unfortunately, much has been lost in the noise or rather political upmanship. The elephants are gone, the dust is being broomed. We are back to where we were, waiting for next Dussehra. The city is more than just one festival. What is lacking is the will and patronage.

  3. Jogekal Lingappa says:

    It was well known after the last Durbar was held in 1969, that the late JC Wadiyar and his officials realised that the Dasara which was closely linked to the Palace activities had run its course. The ailing Wadiyar knew that the festival will not be the same again. Indeed , he was surprised that he could conduct the Durbar for 2 decades after independence, and after the royalty was abolished. The CMs Nijalingappa and his successor Veerendra Patil concurred with the above, and the Dasara celebrations were suspended for 5 years.
    It was Devaraje Urs who revived the Dasara in a form in 1975. Cynics did correctly said, he did so, so that he could see income coming in his way through the award of contracts to run the Dasra actitivities, the repairs and infrastructure developments.
    I have heard my parents to say that since the death of Nalwadi Wadiyar, they did not notice any international tourists arriving to Mysore to witness the Durbar/Dasara. There were none till to date.
    It had always been the visitors from Bangalore, and Tamil Nadu for who this was a novel event for 10 days.
    So this article reveals nothing new. No rolling committee or better advertisements would be of any use. They will simply suck funds , which goes into the pockets of ministers and officials.
    Just because Mysore has a plethora of clinics does not mean that medical tourism will thrive.
    Where will the patients come from? Not from abroad, even to the top hospitals in Mumbai.
    In Europe, the governments spend enormous amount of money for the healthcare, which is delivered free for their citizens. Indeed, it is Indians who in the pretext as tourist they arrive in very large numbers these days,, complain sudden illnesses and check into emergency rooms of government hospitals in England, Belgium , Germany and in many East European countries, where the emergency care, and the follow up, treatments for the visitors are free! These days the Americans , who do not have adequate health insurance, go to Europe to do the same!
    This is not an old wine in a new bottle. This wine soured lon g time ago and has been unusable for decades since 1970s. Dasara should never have been revived.
    If there is a clamour for Dassra these days, the current structure is about the best one can get.

  4. Howdy, Modi! says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how naive Mr Ballal can be.
    This is a man who was involved in Indian tourism, and fails to understand how big the Durga Pooja in Bengal has been over decades. Even when Jayacharaja Wadiyar was running his Durbar and the Daszra was flourishing, Durga Pooja coverage was huge. You cannot simply eclipse this with a PR blitz.
    He asks , where are the foreign tourists. This dimwit again fails to understand, foreign tourists do not like India, which has several issues. They do not simply come to brush with the huge crowd, get Covid infections while seeing an elephant carrying an idol.
    The only state which attracts a sizeable foreign tourists is Kerala-there too only in the ’Ayurvedic treatment belt’ specially constructed amidst the rural settings, with luxury huts in a rich nature surrounding of trees, flower bushes and river stream with river boats.
    Even in its hey days of 1950s Dasara, the only visitors were from Bangalore and with a few from Chennai. Not foreign visitors.
    Why would any one come to Mysore to get medical treatment, when there very good hospitals in Bangalore. The stupidity of assuming that Mysore can attract foreign patients defines Mr Ballal. Not even Bombay hospitals can claim this. Before the UAE attracted several world class hospitals from the USA and England, to establish their massive presence in Abu Dhabi,some Arabs from there used to visit Bombay to get treated at Breach Candy hospital for example. Now,reverse is the case. It is Indians who travel to Abu Dhabi to get treatment in those hospitals. Indeed Mysore MLA, Tanveer Sait went there for treatment, when he got no where in Mysore hospitals.
    This is as far as this Dasara can go. You cannot make it better. It is a very stale concept, particularly in 2022. The decision to abandon Dasara as a public event, from 1970 was good, but politicians interested to get income of their own, revived in mid-1970.
    I would say,it is time to put an end to this event, particularly when the Covid variants are arriving and killing masses of people, despite the vaccinations.
    Finally, when Mysore airport’s expansion gets completed, and the airport can handle jet liners like A320 ,Singapore Airlines are planning weekly flights to Mysore, with a stop over -for health tourism to attract large numbers of Mysore patients to their excellent hospitals. The non-stop flights to the UAE, assured by PM Modi in his recent stop over at the UAE, will further facilitate Mysore patients to go to the world class Western hospitals in the UAE, mentioned above.

  5. B R Sridhar says:

    I want the following issue to be brought to the notice of concerned persons. I do not know the right authority to address. I wrote to Deccan Herald, letters to the editor which is not published. Please help to forward to the concerned persons & / or department.
    Sir / Madam,
    It was wonderful to watch the Jamboo Savari carrying Golden Howdah, return after two years.
    The Golden Howdah weighing 650kg was carrying the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore. It was then designed to seat two persons. Lot of pros & cons must have gone through before it was decided to change for installation of Goddess Chamundeshwari for the Jamboo Savari procession.The Howdah itself might have gone changes over the years.
    It is suggested to change the design of the Golden Howdah so as to weigh around 400-450 kg just to carry the Goddess, thus making it lighter for the elephant (presently Abhimanyu)? The back portion of the Howdah could be eliminated. The gold part utilised to make the redesigned Howdah stronger.
    B R Sridhar
    9740365687
    102/5, Indusri Apt, 1st main, 1st Cross, LIC Colony, Jayanagar 3rd Block (East), Bengaluru 560011.

  6. Gautam says:

    There that clown called Yaduveer, who parades himself as the successor of the Wodeyar dynasty, which he is not. No better work to do for him!
    Where are Barmy Shenoy and Girija Madhavan, the 2 attention-seeking columnists?
    Barmy Shenoy assumed that Narendra Modi will read his open letter with his credentials of working on gas pipelines in the God-forsaken former USSR Territories, and meet him in his recent visit on the international Yoga Day! That did not happen!!
    Girija Madhavan, who writes the fiction as facts, writes about her younger days in Mysore, of Dasara, and never once mentioned her visits to the iconic Dasara Exhibition in the Mysore Medical College-owned building which every youngster in Mysore visited several times during the Dasara of those days described by her.Neither she mentioned about the Mysore Palace visits during the Durbar, when youngsters sat in the Palace galleries and enjoyed the actions taking place in front of them which JC Wodeyar sitting in the throne upstairs in the Durbar Hall also watched.
    The Grahachara outfit (MGP) clowns-Prakash and the Major General ( retired) , a civil engineer, whose achievements were supervising the army building culverts in the border with China are also silent these days!!
    Oh,@Ballal, now the stage is yours, prattle your BS away!!

  7. Mann Ki Baat! says:

    Hello Sridhar
    Pros and cons about the Goddess on a houdah? Living in Bengaluru India, you have little idea of how this works. Politicians decide in a whim -in this case after 1975, and this was put in its place, despite people then expressing huge reservations about the desirability ofthe ‘utasava murthy’ of the Goddess bringing down to Mysore city and putting it on an elephant houdha. It should be a golden chariot-a ratha as the tradition demands it.
    The photograph above shows a joker , called Yaduveer an Urs, who pretends to be the Wadiyar, because a rich landlady of a bungalow called Mysore Palace, called Pramoda Devi adopted him. Hence, his dress as a Maharaja, an outdated concept!! Stop this nonsense.

  8. Laxmi says:

    Nice article,sir. Because of kannada fanaticism our Kannada film industry too has not progressed. No International mention about the grandeur of Mysore Dasara to attract people. The interiors of Mysore Palace too has has lost its charm and has become unattractive right from the entrance.

  9. Tara says:

    Hello Laxmi
    Mr Ballal’s article in its negativity does not question the relevance of Dasara decoupled from Durbar, as Darara came about historically as a festival associated with Wadiyar’s Durba. With the Durbar gone, why conduct Dasara?
    The Goddess does not conduct Durbars, and hence it is meaningless to end the 10 days of the event with a Jumboo savari with the Goddess atop the elephant in a houdah.
    Mr Ballal wants to flog the dead horse Dasara to revive it, and prattles that it did not attract the international visitors. Posters have explained that it never did even in its g days after independence. Talk of international grandeur,when the even does not register in North India is laughable!
    Mr Ballal tosses up ideas like Health tourism and Yoga tourism, with visitors from where? The idea of health tourism is shot down by arguments by the posters above. As for Yoga tourism, the late Mr Pattabhi Jois through his abuses of Western women in his Yoga classes :https://www.inspirationyoga.net/the-sexual-abuse-scandal-in-ashtanga-yoga/ made Mysore Yoga an exercise in abuse of women. Mysore Yoga has acquired a very bad name and reputation.
    Best to drop this Dasara event. The Mysore Palace must be acquired by the central government , and then improved as a national gallery with the paints and the throne displayed for the public view. Special events thenis possible all around the year in the Palace.
    The descendants of the Wadiyar dynasty should be asked to,leave and be housed elsewhere in Mysore. That is the only way to renovate the Palace.

  10. duplicate Tara says:

    Oh my,, Now insane person is writing using woman’s name as Tara…

  11. Kanchana Ganga says:

    Very rightly put points . These were thing I have always taught about but never really heard anyone pointing it out loud. Benifit of doubt – covid has to be giving a bit of margin for international tourism a way. But this time i also felt everything was done in a hurry and in the same manner and wasn’t managed at its best.

  12. SuryaPrathap says:

    Laxmi,
    Fanaticism is hindi being made THE fabric of society. Your naïveté is in believing that using hindi is en-vogue, and things sell just by peddling this fiction. Have you even hear of ‘Basler Fasnacht’ or the Mardi Gras? Or if you are comfortable closer home ‘Vallam kali’?
    Events like Mysuru Dasara is a big league cultural extravaganza. Kannada is central to our culture and thus anchors to this show. Tagging hindi is nothing but chauvinism and pettiness of people like you and the silly administrators who think like you. Have you seen this poor cousin hindi being used in Durga pooje or garba or onam or elsewhere? Pl crawl out of your crevice and upgrade yourself

  13. Mann Ki Baat, Bisi Bele Baat! says:

    Hey @duplicate
    You are really mad and bonkers, needing emergency psychiatric treatment of electric convulsion therapy, before putting you into an asylum.

  14. Mann Ki Baat, Bisi Bele Baat! says:

    Hey @duplicate
    You are really mad and bonkers, needing emergency psychiatric treatment of electric convulsion therapy, before putting you into an asylum.

  15. Ajjampur Vijayakumar says:

    @surya
    You need reality checking, when you prattle: “Events like Mysuru Dasara is a big league cultural extravaganza”
    It is nothing of the kind as it usually attracts people mostly from Bengaluru and the rest arrive from other parts of Karnataka.
    The event is designed to give kickbacks to politicians and officials, and has been so for years.
    It is unknown for example in New Delhi, here. I would also say it is unknown in the Norther India as a whole.

  16. Mann Ki Baat, Bisi Bele Baat! says:

    For what it is worth, my experience with this Dasara crowd this year is this. While the crowd s I met and chatted with said that they either were from Mysuru or Bengaluru, they sounded like non-natives. My conversation in Kannada with them met with silence.
    To me, it appeared that these were the settlers , who took jobs in these 2 cities, from outside Karnataka. For them , this was not the ‘Nada Hubba’, but an event. Hence, things cannot be improved as Mr \Ballal suggests,.

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