Dussehara is not about Ram-Ravan but Danteshwari Mai in Bastar

CG’s ‘Bastar Dussehra Rath’ first ‘Exhibit of the Week’ of October. 

Staff ReporterUpdated: Thursday, October 06, 2022, 02:02 AM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): ‘Bastar Dussehra Rath’ of Chhattisgarh is the first ‘Exhibit of the Week’ of the month on social media pages of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS) in the city.

The museum collected the exhibit from tribal communities of Bastar,  Chhattisgarh in 2000.

Director, IGRMS, Praveen Kumar Mishra, said that Dussehra is celebrated in various parts of India to mark the victory of lord Rama or the goddess Shakti over the evil powers. But in Bastar, it is an occasion to propitiate the supreme goddess ‘Danteshwari Mai’ of the local pantheon. It is believed that lord Jagannath had gifted a chariot having twelve wheels to ‘Mai Subhadra’ to rule the Bastar which she gifted to Purushottam Dev- the King of Bastar.

And then the king offered it to 'Danteshwari Mai,’ a supreme goddess of Bastar. Since then, during Dussehra, the Rath Parikrama is celebrated in Jagdalpur, the district headquarters of Bastar by placing a palanquin of Goddess Danteshwari on it, he said.  

He further said as it was difficult to construct such a huge single chariot, the King allowed to construct two smaller chariots i.e. ‘Raini Rath’ (Vijay Rath)-the eight wheel chariot used during Dussehra festival and the ‘Phool Rath', the smaller four wheel chariot used in Goncha festival.

The size of ‘Raini Rath’ is about 32 feet long, 18 feet wide and 18 feet high. The size of ‘Phool Rath’ is about 32 feet long, 17 feet wide and 17 feet high. 

The construction of ‘Rath is a systematic process with division of labour and distribution of work among the specified villages and communities. People of Billari village organise ‘Pata Jatra’ for collection of wood from Jungle to construct the wheels. The overall responsibility of the construction is traditionally vested in the Savara Naiks from villages Jharumargaon and Beda Umbergaon.

Villagers from these villages take up the construction of the chariot. Before starting the construction certain rituals and sacrifices are made to the goddess. After completing the construction the palanquin is kept on the chariot and taken for the Parikrama during Dussehra festival, Mishra added.

The exhibition began on Monday. Visitors can see the exhibit from home through the official site (https://igrms.com/wordpress/?page_id=9008) and Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/NationalMuseumMankind), Instagram and twitter page of the IGRMS.

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