The air was filled with anticipation and festive fervor as the first Dussehra[1] celebration at Isha Yoga Center was set to begin on 27 September. The organizing Isha volunteers from western Tamil Nadu welcomed over 3000 people from all across the State and beyond.

Surrounded by men in white Dhotis and women clad in saris of all shades and hues, the festivities began with the equally colorful, traditional Kolu[2] and Rangoli[3] competitions. In the all-inclusive spirit of Isha, men took part with equal enthusiasm in these competitions which are usually considered women’s domain – and even got the first prize in the Rangoli category. The vibrant Rangoli designs ranged from the conventional symmetrical floral patterns to the expressive and winning portrait of Goddess Durga. The beautifully adorned Kolu displays even animated some participants to sit in front of them, singing songs and bhajans.

Isha Dussehra

The ensuing games were so simple yet supercharging that almost everybody, young and old, joyously took part. While arrangements were made for the program that followed, people rushed to take a dip in the Theerthakund and to visit the temple before returning for the poojas.

Back on the festival grounds, volunteers performed Ayudha Pooja[4]and Saraswati Pooja, both integral parts of the traditional Dussehra celebrations. For the Ayudha Pooja, a mark of gratitude for the tools that are means to our livelihood, equipments from over 40 departments at Isha Yoga Center were brought together and arranged on the pooja table. Saraswati Pooja was held as an offering to the Goddess of knowledge, arts and music.

The organizing volunteers distributed prasadam for all which the audience happily sampled during the ensuing program. The chief guests of the evening – Mrs. Karpagam, wife of Deputy Inspector General (Prisons), and Mrs. Gayathri, Councillor of Saibaba Colony, Coimbatore and daughter of Honorable Mayor Venkatachalam, gave away the prizes for the competitions held earlier in the day.

Isha Samskriti children opened the cultural programs with an intense chanting, followed by professional performances of Bharatanatyam[5] by Aradhana Dance School, Coimbatore, and the Singari Melam group from Palakkad, Kerala. Just as Singari Melam was about to bring many of the audience to their feet with their energetic drums, it began to rain; but the crowd kept cheering, unperturbed by nature’s whim. The organizers had to request them to shift indoors to Spanda Hall, jestingly explaining that even though everyone in the audience seemed to enjoy the rain, the equipments didn’t. The following performances at Spanda Hall included classical songs and Bharathanatyam by Isha Home School students, a lively Garba dance by Coimbatore volunteers, an encore by Singari Melam, and last but not least a much awaited concert by Sounds of Isha.

Finally, a surprise message from Sadhguru rounded off a wonderful day: “Convey blessings. Tell them Dussehra was so much a part of my growing up – being in Mysore. I am very glad that all of you gathered to celebrate at the ashram for this day. Let there be success in all that you do, particularly your spiritual journey. I am with you.” Always.

 
[1] Grand culmination of the 10-day annual Navratri festival; a celebration of the Mother Goddess, and the victory over evil; also known as Vijayadashami (Navratri – major festival in India; lit. “nine nights”)
[2] Traditional display of figurines, predominantly of gods and goddesses, during the Navratri festival
[3] Artful patterns, usually drawn with white and colored powder on the floor
[4] Pooja where tools and equipment are worshipped (ayudha lit. means “weapon” in Sanskrit)
[5] Classical dance form originating in Tamil Nadu