Jagdalpur becomes the base for the unique 75-day Bastar Dussehra celebrations from July to October, when both the Hindu and tribal populations of the region commemorate Goddess Danteshwari. This grand festival is layered with legends and fascinating rites spread across the months. Plan a trip to Jagdalpur around the last 10 days when thousands of adivasis arrive to take part in the longstanding rituals. The centerpiece of the festival is a large wooden rath (chariot) that is made by locals of Bedaumar and Jharumar villages and pulled by Bison Horn Marias. The chariot moves along with beat of munda bajas, which are drums played by specific community from nearby Potanar.
Other than Jagdalpur, a good place to participate in the festival is at Dantewada. Visit the Danteshwari temple there on the day that the goddess leaves in a palki for Jagdalpur. The procession is led by dancing Bison Horn Marias until they reach a heavily decorated truck that leaves for Jagdalpur. Enroute, the truck makes several stops in villages and is greeted by troupes of adivasis.
A young girl of the Mirgin (weavers) caste is possessed by the Devi to usher in Dassehra. This ceremony entails the girl sitting on a thorn swing and the king visiting her to take permission to start the festivities.
A day reserved for worshipping the wood used for making the chariot, consecrated with sacrificial blood from goats.
This involves installing holy urns in the Danteshwari and other temples.
A Halba youth starts a penance of nine days by sitting immobile in a small pit to ensure that the festival goes smoothly.
The chariot starts circumambulation around the Mavali Temple. Every year a new chariot is made with four or eight wheels alternatively.
The sacrifice of 12 goats in front of the Bastar king.
On this evening the Jogi completes his penance and rises after nine days.
The ceremony is dedicated to Mavli Devi (Goddess Danteshwari) when she is taken in a palanquin to the palace temple.
A grand spectacle when the chariot is taken around the city by 400 Marias, who later steal it and part it outside the city.
The king eats with the Marias and asks to take the chariot back.
A ceremonious farewell is given to all the gods and goddess who come to celebrate Dussehra from different parts of Bastar.
Photographs of his mother Praful Kumari and other Kakatiya kings adorn the walls of his hall. Today, Maharaja Kamal Chandra Bhanj Deo lives in the palace and heads the traditional functions of Bastar.