Traditions of Mysore, Jaipur and Kullu are synonymous with grand Dussehra celebrations but not many know that the festival is royally celebrated only 55km West of Indore in the erstwhile Jamniya state capital in Vidhya region.
Maintaining a 450-year-old custom, residents of 86 villages, from every castes and class, gather at the Jamniya Palace to celebrate the festival.
Before independence, the Jamniya state spread up to Indore, Dhar and Khandwa districts.
Speaking about the celebration, Scion of this erstwhile state, Shaliwahan Singh Jamniya, said, the celebrations start at eight in the morning with the worship of Paliya Baba, an ancestor of Jamniya royal family. In the evening, the ceremonial "Himadry Snan" of the throne holder takes place.
"It's a special bath as a group of 21 priests chant shlokas while pouring water brought from 52 ponds of the state by the Patels (headsmen) of 52 villages, curd, tulsi, honey, cow urine, scent, milk, mud, ghee etc.," said Shaliwahan.
This is followed by a huge procession of the various tribal groups of different villages who dance on the melodious tribal tunes and songs. Along with this, more than a dozen akhadas display their fighting skills and the use of sticks and sharp edged weapons in the show.
Later, the head is led to the 'gaddi' (throne), where he performs puja. He then leads a procession to perform "Shami puja". Thereafter, the effigy of Ravana is set on fire in traditional manner.
Along with the residents of the villages, more than 15,000 villagers from across 86 villages also participate in the function.
"During the procession, we also pay respect to Pir Baba. A large number of Muslims also participate in the celebration that sets a perfect example of religious harmony in the area," said Shaliwahan.
Jamniya family, a native of Jhalore (Rajasthan), migrated to Mandu in 1303 during Allauddin Khilji's rule. They constructed a huge fort just above the Nilkanth Mahadev temple in Mandu called Songarha Fort. Its remains still lie there. About 400 years back, the royal family was given the 'jagir' of 86 villages near Indore in Jamniya, said Shaliwahan.
From that time the tradition was transferred from one generation to another.