No Kota Dussehra fair this year, 2nd cancellation in 126 years
The fair is a big attraction not just for revellers but also leads to big business opportunities for big traders and also the small ones.Updated: Oct 18, 2020, 17:13 IST
The grandeur of yearly month-long famous Kota Dussehra fair will not be seen this year along with the Dussehra fairs in Kullu and Mysore due to restrictions in place to contain Covid-19. The cancellation of the Kota Dussehra mela is only the second such instance in its 126 year history, said experts.
Kota Dussehra fair is not only the biggest Dussehra fair of Rajasthan but is also in the league of famous Dussehra fairs in the country. The main cultural event of the coaching city witnesses a footfall of over 50,000 to 1 lakh visitors every day during the fair at the Dussehra ‘mela’ ground in Kota city.
Commissioner of the Kota municipal corporation (KMC), south, Kirti Rathore said the fair had been cancelled due to the restrictions placed on holding any kind of large religious congregation and government events in order to maintain social distancing norms to prevent further spread of Covid-19. She, however, added that some traditional Dussehra rituals will be performed symbolically, but there will be no month-long fair like every year.
The effigies of Ravana and his son Meghnad and brother Kumbhkaran will be around 11 feet high during the effigy burning event, which will be attended by a limited number of officials and stakeholders, said Rathore. She added that the procession of Lord Lakshminarayanji will also be taken in a vehicle by a few people instead of a grand procession.
Kota Dussehra fair begins during Navratri and reaches its peak on Dussehra day when over a lakh people in number witness the burning of tall effigies of the mythological demon king.
Historian and also a member of Indian trust for art and cultural heritage, Firoz Ahmad says “Kota Dussehra fair was also cancelled in the year 1971 during Indo-Pak war due to a blackout in Kota and if the fair is cancelled this year also then it would be the second such instance in its history”.
The cancellation of the fair will be a disappointment for the locals and traders from across the country as well for those who put up their shops during the fair.
“Nearly 1500 traders from across the country put up their stalls in the fair and trade worth Rs 150 crore takes place during the fair but such trade activity will not be held this year due to Kota Dussehra fair cancellation,” said Mahesh Gautam Lalli, ex corporator and also former member of Kota Dussehra mela committee. He claimed that the fair witnesses a footfall of over 16 lakh visitors every year.
Commissioner Kirti Rathore explains a few reasons that make Kota Dussehra fair a special attraction.
“While most Dussehra events last for maximum a week to 10 days, Kota Dussehra fair is probably the only one which runs for nearly a month, during which a spree of cultural programs is held and famous artists perform.”
“The height of Ravana’s statue and that of his family members also remains the highest in the state, with the Ravana statue being as high as 100 feet,” she said.
Firoz Ahmad says that Kota Dussehra fair started in 1893 in the reign of ex-ruler of Kota, Maharao Ummed Singh on the existing Kota Dussehra mela ground and it is among the rare Dussehra fairs left in the country in which scions of erstwhile royal family participates.
“A colorful royal procession of Lord Lakshminarayan comprising of horse, camel carts, music bands, artists and folk artists and led by the scion of ex-Kota royal family in an open jeep is carried out from Kota Garh Palace to the Kota Dussehra fair ground,” Ahmad said.
The fair is so popular and deeply embedded in the culture of Kota that the former state government had given the Kota Dussehra mela grounds a facelift with an expenditure of Rs 70 crore, 3 years ago, to develop it on the lines of Pragati maidan in Delhi.
Earlier, there used to be an open undeveloped stretch of land at the Kota Dussehra mela grounds, which now has been transformed into an elegant campus after construction of heritage boundary wall, shops, cemented grounds, roads and theaters, said Lalli.