The Dasara festivities were first started by the Wodeyar
King, Raja Wodeyar I (1578-1617 CE) in the year 1610. It
was during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in the year
1805, when the king started the tradition of having a special
durbar in the Mysore Palace which was attended by members
of the royal family, special invitees, officials and the
masses. This tradition has been continued even now with
the current scion of the Wodeyar family, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja
Wodeyar holding a private durbar during Dasara. The ninth
day of Dasara called as Mahanavami is also an auspicious
day on which the royal sword is worshipped and is taken
on a procession involving elephants, camels and horses.
It is also a part of the Dasara celebrations.
All vehicles and machineries are worshipped on this day. The majestic Elephant adorned by golden anklets, bell and chains carries the city's Patron Goddess Chamundeshwari in a howdah.
The New year festival or Ugadi comes close on the heels of Holi. While the strong colors of Holi start fading away, the freshness of spring lingers on with sprightliness all around. The flames of the forest (trees with bright red flowers that blossom during holi) are in full bloom signifying an affluent season. It is believed that the creator of the Hindu pantheon Lord Brahma started creation on this day - Chaitra suddha padhyami or the Ugadi day. Also the great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya's calculations proclaimed the Ugadi day from the sunrise on as the beginning of the New Year, new month and new day. The onset of spring also marks a beginning of new life with plants (barren until now) acquiring new life, shoots and leaves. Spring is considered the first season of the year hence also heralding a new year and a new beginning.
It is a season for raw mangoes spreading its aroma in the air and the fully blossomed neem tree that makes the air healthy. Also, jaggery made with fresh crop of sugarcane adds a renewed flavor to the typical dishes associated with Ugadi. "Ugadi pachchadi" is one such dish that has become synonymous with Ugadi. It is made of new jaggery, raw mango pieces and neem flowers and new tamarind which truly reflect life - a combination of sweet, sour and bitter tastes!
Ugadi is celebrated with festive fervor in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. While it is called Ugadi in A.P. and Karnataka, in Maharashtra it is known as "Gudipadava". On Ugadi day, people wake up before the break of dawn and take a head bath after which they decorate the entrance of their houses with fresh mango leaves. The significance of tying mango leaves relates to a legend. It is said that Kartik (or Subramanya or Kumara Swamy) and Ganesha, the two sons of Lord Siva and Parvathi were very fond of mangoes. As the legend goes Kartik exhorted people to tie green mango leaves to the doorway signifying a good crop and general well-being.
Ugadi is also the most auspicious time to start new ventures.
The celebration of Ugadi is marked by religious zeal and social merriment. Special dishes are prepared for the occasion. In Andhra Pradesh, eatables such as "pulihora", "bobbatlu" and preparations made with raw mango go well with the occasion. In Karnataka too, similar preparations are made but called "puliogure" and "holige". The Maharashtrians make "puran poli" or sweet rotis.