The spectacle of Dasara in Mysore was as far as we could get from our experience in Gudalur, but this is where we went next. On Friday evening we joined the throng at the palace to see the display of lights. Traffic was stopped so we got out of the car and walked along two sides of the block before meeting up with our car again. The excitement was palpable, and Ashwin skipped and danced down the sidewalk until it became too crowded and we had to hold on to keep him from getting lost. Much of Mysore was lit up, like Christmas or New Year’s Eve at home, with colored lights draped over every important building in the city. Roads had lights strung across them, and colored lights formed pictures of gods in motion. The palace was completely outlined in white lights. It was spectacular!
On the following day, Kamala and Anil Kumar made arrangements for us to watch the elephant procession, the Jamboo Savari. We had a comfortable place to sit in a storefront until the parade started, then we were taken to the front row and given seats on a platform with a perfect view. Included in the parade were 45 floats (or tableaux) with 71 costumed folk art troupes in between, drumming and dancing. The performers were hypnotic (Ashwin didn’t make a peep for two hours) and the tableaux were the height of kitsch. My personal favorite was the one with the giant silk worm on it (the man is trying to adjust the mannequin’s falling sari). There were many paper mache copies of temples, a giant ear, political figures, village houses, handicrafts, and tons of gods and animals. Two floats included a tiger attacking a man and another announced all of the repercussions one will suffer from going to the bathroom outside (including being attacked by a tiger and other monstrosities). In other words, this was by far the BEST parade I have ever seen in my life.
Over 5 Lakh (or 500,000) attended the Jamboo Savari, and when it was over a huge crowd of mostly men ran down the street after the procession. It was total chaos! We just waited until the majority of the crowd passed before leaving, but it was still a sea of people when we got to the side street. People were purposefully stepping in the elephant poop with their bare feet (good luck?) some climbed up onto the train bridge, the train halted and was blaring it’s horn. The front tire of a motor scooter following behind me ran into my heel, someone pinched my butt so surreptitiously and cleverly I wasn’t sure it had happened. Ha, ha! you have to admire that a bit, had I realized in time I would have slugged him with my water jug. In short, I loved it and had a fantastic time!