Kullu Dussehra is the famous International Dussehra festival celebrated on October 15 this year in Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Dussehra at Kullu begins on the tenth day of Navratri, which is held in October and continues for seven days. The festival commemorates the installment of the deity Lord Raghunath in the Kullu valley. To devotees, the festival also symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. The celebrations are massive, with thousands of tourists from around the globe. Music, food, dancing, troupe performances, and colorful attire make up the fascinating aura of the Dussehra. In 1972, Kullu Dussehra was recognized as an international event.
History of International: Dussehra
Kullu Valley, also known as ‘Kulanthapitha’ (Valley of Gods), is renowned for its annual grand Dussehra celebration, attracting thousands of tourists worldwide. The Kullu Dussehra festival dates back to the 16th century to the legend of King Jagat Singh of Kullu, who installed an idol of Raghunath on his throne as an act of repentance. Historians indicate that Lord Raghunath’s idol was brought to Kullu from Ayodhya in 1651, during the king’s rule.
King Jagat Singh invited all deities to come to pay tribute to Lord Raghunath, and thus began the annual Dussehra celebration which continues to this today. He also proclaimed Lord Raghunath as the supreme deity of Kullu Valley.
The celebrations of the Kullu Dussehra festival involve music and dance. The colorful decorations symbolize happiness and abundance. In 1972, Kullu Dussehra was declared an international festival. In 2016, the festival made its way to the Guinness World Records for bringing together more than 9,000 dancers for the largest voluntary folk dance performance.
Although the Dussehra festival is celebrated in different parts of India, Nepal, and Malaysia, only the weeklong festival in Kullu holds the status of an international festival. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Kullu Dussehra celebrations were altered to ensure safety. There were strict social distancing and crowd control measures enforced in different Indian states. Members of the public were advised to stay indoors and celebrate the festival in a low-key manner.
International: Dussehra timeline
The Kullu Dussehra festival begins in Kullu valley.
Kullu Dussehra gains recognition as an international festival.
Kullu Dussehra gets a place in the Guinness World Records for organizing the world's largest voluntary folk dance performance with 9,892 dancers.
The grand celebrations at Kullu Dussehra are toned down owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, and social distancing measures are implemented.
International: Dussehra FAQs
Where is the Kullu valley?
The Kullu valley is situated in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India.
Which language is spoken in Himachal Pradesh?
While Hindi is the official language of Himachal Pradesh, most of the population speaks Pahari.
Is Kullu valley the old name of Himachal Pradesh?
Kullu Valley is not another name for Himachal Pradesh; it is a district situated in Himachal Pradesh state.
How to Observe International: Dussehra
Attend the festival in-person or online
Kullu Dussehra is a week-long period of colorful festivities. If you cannot be there physically, watching the celebrations online is always an option.
Decorate your house for the occasion
You could light up your space with ‘diyas’ (earthen oil lamps) and string lights. The diyas’ oil is said to represent human sins, so lighting it signifies "burning away" the bad.
Prepare some traditional delicacies
Why not use this occasion as an opportunity to try your hand at Indian cuisine? You can look up on the internet and prepare foods that are traditionally prepared during this festival. Dishes like ‘puris,’ ‘basundi,’ ‘puran poli,’ and ‘palak pakora’ are hugely popular at this time.
5 Facts About Kullu Dussehra
Artists from around the world participate
At the International Folk Dance Festival 2015 during Kullu Dussehra, artists from countries like Russia, Portugal, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Taiwan performed.
Known by another name
In the past, the Kullu valley was known as ‘Kuluta.’
Ban on animal sacrifice
Animal sacrifices have stopped being a part of Kullu Dussehra celebrations since 2014.
The Raghunath idol was once stolen
The famous idol of Lord Raghunath was stolen from the temple in December 2014 but was soon restored.
Thousands of tourists visit
More than 400,000 to 500,000 people visit Kullu valley to celebrate Kullu Dussehra.
Why International: Dussehra is Important
It has a symbolic significance
The Kullu Dussehra festival signifies the victory of good over evil. It is a holiday that seeks to promote moral goodness and kindness.
It spreads awareness about Hinduism
Events like the Kullu Dussehra festival educate more people about Hinduism. People also get to learn about various Hindu customs and traditions.
A surreal festive experience
The Kullu Dussehra festival is a beautiful event loved by many. We get to see beautiful people celebrating in a place with much historical significance.
International: Dussehra dates