(Photo by Xavier GALIANA / AFP) (Photo by XAVIER GALIANA/AFP via Getty Images)

The famous 10-day long Dasara festivities has commenced on Saturday in the palace city of Mysuru in Karnataka with religious fervour, amid the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrated as Nada Habba (state festival), the festivities began with Dr C N Manjunath, Director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, Bengaluru and Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa showering flowers on the idol of goddess Chamundeshwari, the presiding deity of erstwhile Mysuru royals, atop Chamundi Hill.

Dr Manjunath, who is also the nodal officer for COVID-19 testing was chosen for Dasara inauguration, in recognition of the service of doctors and front line COVID-19 warriors.

Six coronavirus warriors were also honoured at the inaugural to recognise their service in the fight against the pandemic.

With COVID-19 pandemic casting shadow, the government had decided to organise the 410th Dasara festivities in a “simple” way, by and large restricting it to keep up with the traditions.

The 10 day event that every year showcases Karnataka’s cultural heritage resplendent with folk art forms, and attracts large crowds and tourists, has been scaled down this time due to COVID-19.

The Mysuru administration has restricted people at most of the events and has arranged for live telecasts.

With Mysuru having a large number of cases, the focus is on strict enforcement of SOPs for controlling the spread of virus and to mark safe Dasara.

Jumbo Sawari or procession of well decorated elephants carrying the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari placed in a golden Howdah on Vijayadashmi or the 10th day of the festival, which marks the culmination of celebrations on October 26, has been restricted to the palace premises.

At the palace too, the erstwhile royal family has decided to hold the celebrations in the simple way with select gathering, due to COVID pandemic.

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