The famed 10-day Dussehra festival began on Wednesday with pomp and piety in Karnataka's cultural capital Mysuru.
The festival began on a grand note with a prayer at the Chamundeshwari temple, followed by its inauguration at the royal Amba Vilas Palace.
Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy inaugurated the 408th year of the festival by worshipping the deity amid chanting of Vedic hymns and rendering of devotional music.
Sudha's husband and Infosys co-founder N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, his ministers, officials and hundreds of others were present at the temple and later at the palace.
"I am blessed to inaugurate the Dussehra festival. It is an honour and privilege," said Sudha.
As the festival has historical relevance dating back to the 16th century when the Wodiyar kings used to celebrate it, Sudha said the state government should include it in school curriculum to inspire the younger generations.
A replica of the deity was taken in a procession to the royal palace from the temple atop the Chamundi hill on the outskirts of Mysuru.
Meanwhile, the royal dynasty's adopted scion and titular head Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja held a private audience by ascending the Golden Throne in the Palace durbar hall at the auspicious time (around noon).
"Yaduveer will hold the khasagi (private) durbar for nine days (navarathri) in line with the Yadu dynasty's 600-year-old tradition, worship (ayudha puja) the armoury and other objects in the Palace on October 18 and witness the victory parade on Vijayadashmi day," said a Palace official,
The priests also performed Hindu rituals in the Palace in the presence of an elephant, a camel, horse and a cow.
Priests from 23 temples in the old Mysuru region made offerings to Hindu gods and goddesses and sprinkled holy water on the scion.
Kumaraswamy also flagged off the cultural celebrations and sporting events later outside the palace precincts.
The city has been spruced and decked up for the grandeur that will culminate with a victory procession of caparisoned elephants, camels, horses and tableaux from the Palace to the Bannimantapa grounds for a torch-light parade on the 10th day of the festival.
As part of Navarathri, cultural and musical programmes will be held over the next nine days outside the Palace and other venues across the city.
Sporting events like wrestling and athletics, film shows, children's shows, poets' meet, food fiesta and book expo will be part of the grand festival.
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