The Vijayadashami, which signifies the end of the Navaratri, brings thousands of tourists and pilgrims to
watch the Jamboo Savari. Mysore
If the Jumbo Savari or Dasara procession culminates the end of the Navaratri, there is another ritual, which when it ends signals the commencement of the procession.
This is the highly brutal blood sport of Vajra Musti or Musti Kalaga. Once a highly popular spot of Kings and emperors and the high and might of
, it has lost out to modern
sports and to softer forms of physical games like boxing and wrestling. India
True, a boxer or wrestler of even a martial art expert might take umbrage at the forgoing sentence but what they should remember is that in Vajra Musti, the spurting of first blood on the forehead of an opponent celebrates the victor.
This is perhaps the most dangerous sport of all and make no mistake, it is as dangerous today as it was centuries ago. The combatants are known as Gettis and this sport today is confined within the Main
The Vajra Musti bouts are arranged in the beautiful wrestling courtyard of the main palace. Specially treated mud is prepared for the event and it is brought in lorries to the venue. The scion of the Wodeyar dynasty, Srikantadutta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, inaugurates the event.
After the Musti ends, he heralds the Dasara procession.
Coming back to the Vajra Musti, it is one of the most feared of all ancient arts of
. In India , it is performed only on Vijayadashmi and
that too to keep the ancient tradition alive. Mysore
The sport involves wrestlers or jattis hitting each other with clinched fists. Whosoever draws blood first is declared the winner and the contest is called off.
Unfortunately, this is a private event and it is generally not open to the public, except through invitation or special permission. Almost all the participants are from the Jetti community and they fight out more for prestige and tradition than for prize money.
The sport today is confined only to
but centuries ago, it was popular in the Vijayanagar Empire. The Vijayanagar
Emperors were patrons of this art forms and they patronized many Jettis. Krishna Deva Raya was himself a renowned
wrestler and he won many bouts. Mysore
Ranadheera Kanteerava Wodeyar was also a famous wrestler of his times. He was also proficient in many forms of martial arts. There are several accounts of this Wodeyar King personally participating in Kusti during Dasara when Srirangapatna was the capital of the
Jattis of Mysore who played the blood sport were patronized by the Wodeyars and given high positions of power and prestige. Senior Jettis were designated as Rajagurus and their services were commissioned for training princes and kings in warfare and strategy.
Since Jettis had knowledge about anatomy and were expert wrestlers, they were given importance in the
court and they formed an integral part of the Maharaja’s inner circle. Mysore
The Jettis were not Kannadigas and a majority of them hail from Delmal in
They are believed to have migrated to south during the 11th century. The first mention of
the Jetti is in Hoysala records.
Interestingly, both Hyder Ali and Tiu Sultan were patrons of Vajra Musti. After the storming of Srirangapatna in 1799, Vajra Musti lost its hue in Srirangapatna and
took its place as the centre of Vajra
The Jettis were supposed to have taught Balarama, the brother of
art of wrestling. Balarama son became one of the greatest wrestlers of his
Today, the blood sport is almost dead and gone but for the annual Dasara event. The sport can easily survive and even become popular provided our Government and the powers that be took keen interest in preserving and nurturing a rich slice of our heritage.