Athithi Devobhava, but no English in Dasara ads?

SUJATA RAJPAL writes: The Dasara in Mysore is projected to attract and bring tourists from not only the length and breadth of India but also nationals from various countries.

Foreigners throng Mysore during the festival of nine nights to see the lights, the song and music concerts, the film and theatre festivals, the sports and adventure shows, the torch light parade and a myriad other attractions.

Admittedly, art and culture have no language.

Yet, a cursory look at these hoardings, hundreds of which are all over Mysore and in advertisements in the newspapers, show the disconnect between Mysore Dasara’s ambitions and the reality.

The simple point is this: most of the ads, signages and hoardings are in Kannada. Fair enough, because a vast number of tourists who come to Mysore during Dasara are Kannadigas, from near and far, and it would be tragic if Kannada didn’t get primacy in the proceedings.

Still, would it have served Mysore Dasara better by throwing in a few words of a language that most non-Kannadigas and many foreigners understand, ie English? After all, if English could be used in the traffic signs to guide the visitors, surely we could have done likewise with the cultural menu?

Would it not have helped them feel wanted and comfortable? Would it not have helped them appreciate the rich culture of Karnataka better? And would it not have helped ensure that nothing was lost in translation?

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32 Responses to “Athithi Devobhava, but no English in Dasara ads?”

  1. Kumar Says:

    Many Germans and French also visit India and Mysore.
    Even people from South America come here.
    And most of them don’t speak English also.

    So, how do we cater to their needs?

    What do you do when you goto Japan or China – they don’t speak English?
    Many of our engineers keep going to these countries for business and also as tourists.

  2. voyeur Says:

    I went to America there was no hoarding in Kannada there. Do they not want tourists from Karnataka?

  3. Nastika Says:

    Germans, French, South Americans who visit India, manage with bit of English. Signs in English is of great help to them.
    Japan & China, if they want to attract international tourist, will put up signs in English.

    When you went to America, they knew you can manage with English. Hence they put up all signs in English.


  4. manohara Says:

    @Sujata :
    Please start Kannada coaching for non-Kannada speakers. We need people like you to be actively involved in brand ambassadoring.

  5. M Says:

    I just read this in Deccan Herald (4.Oct.11):

    Damian Green (British Minister for Immigration) said: “I saw, in our office in Delhi, a man being interviewed for his visa. He said he was coming for a skilled job working on a busy production line making machinery ………. He needed an interpreter for his visa interview.”

    If a Hindiwala can go to Britain without the knowledge of English he can also visit Mysuru Dasara without knowledge of Kannada.

    @ Kumar and voyeur: nice comments.

    A few years ago I went to France for a work related activity. All boards were in French. I bought a Haprer’s French-English phrase book and managed to get around without a hitch. And yes all the French people, though being unable to speak to me in English were able to guide me in impromptu sign language.

  6. richardw Says:

    @Nastika .. And your point being ?

    @Manohara .. Well said sir. I second you :)

    @M – True. When in India, try to merge with the local culture. Common points like airports, etc. have english.So, no english being present should also be an experience the tourists can have :P

  7. Faldo Says:

    It should not be a major problem if hoardings and advertisements are in Kannada. However, I believe signs in most common areas and public facilities do have English in addition to Kannada, which is what a tourist would look for.
    Yes it would have been great if they had more ads or hoardings in English as well but it should be kept in mind that these were targeted for a local audience.

    On another note, I am reminded of a funny incident a long time ago when buses having route numbers in Kannada stumped many Kannadigas as well, who were used to seeing the route numbers in English with the destination printed in Kannada.

  8. THE GAGGED Says:

    zindabad, zindabad,

    yeh angrezi yahan,


    song to the tune in mughal-e-azam

  9. the colonel Says:

    rewind to 1982 or was it 1983. i was asked to report to AIR bangalore for a live commentary to be broadcast, and i joined a person renowned for his kanada in a dual effort.

    so he an officious, stern, no smile person started the prelims and then nodded to me to continue. i started in a two way banter whith an unseen unheard audience and nodded to him after a minute and a half. he started a smile and a natural cadence flowed. we took our turns naturally and within five minutes he was smiling broadly and at ease with himself.

    my father had arranged for the broadcast to be taped, and he played the cassette everyday.

    my co-commentator, thanked me for the best broadcast he said he had made and that he had enjoyed himself totally and thanked me for bringing in a style of speaking which was unknown as per him till then.

    i am still confused by what he said for all of us talk in a similar manner when we are enjoying ourselves.

    you know what happened, delhi took a stern view of an army guy with a microphone.

    you know NATIONAL SECURITY was involved.

    as per delhi.

  10. knsandeep Says:

    I am glad that the Government first thought of Kannada in the ads. Usage of Kannada (and Kannada alone) is not a bad sign. No big deal if they forgot English or any other language.

  11. sarvagna Says:

    unfortunately few boards which were in english were defaced by so called Kannada activists and all local newspapers have photographs of applying tar.

  12. Complex Says:

    You are right. There should be more signboards in English which will help tourists. So, next time more tourists will come. If more tourists come, it will lift the Mysore economy. It will benefit the very people who are trying to be kannada activists.

  13. Nija Says:

    I quote the author of this post here:
    “Foreigners throng Mysore during the festival of nine nights to see the lights, the song and music concerts, the film and theatre festivals, the sports and adventure shows, the torch light parade and a myriad other attractions.” – yes, they don’t come here to see the hoardings nor the banners.

    While I agree a few more boards in English would have made it even more convenient for tourists without Kannada know-how, a majority of efforts put in by the Karnataka State govt. have actually been in English and not Kannada.

    Be it most of the tourist guiding content on Official Dasara website (Kannada version also gives info in English!!) or the innumerable English ads posted in English dailies (compared to the fewer Kannada ads) the State govt. has put in more than sufficient effort to attract & help non-Kannada tourists of Dasara. A state govt. representing a Kannada state spending as much time, effort & money is unprecedented and, in fact, to an extent belittling the role Kannada has to play at many of the Dasara fests.

    One thing that the state govt. definitely needs to look into soon after the Vijayadashami parade is the language planning of all such cultural events (Mysore Dasara, Hampi Utsava, Gulbarga Utsava, Kittoor Utsava, Bengaluru Habba etc.) sponsored and/or run by the state govt. It needs to come up with categorical plans of what needs to feature (& not feature!) in such pompous display of Kannada heritage and methodology to attract maximum audience attention with that heritage still remaining at the center of such attraction.

  14. the colonel Says:

    gentlemen, gentlemen.

    you have made this into jak assy or parl.

    dasara is dasara lets enjoy dasara fully with joy and verve.

    a north indian doesnt come all the way to eat his own food. even in bangalore we have no such place.

    ever wondered why there are so many khao galli’s or street food joints.

    ever wondered how they survive, how do they live when old.

    please enjoy dasara.

    we can come back to the wicked world later totall rested.

  15. Ramesh Says:

    Its quite a bit alarming that usage of English goes unnoticed. Being a Kannadiga I expect that all the boards, hordings, signage, website to be Kannada. Its quite unfortunate that most of the times people in a race to keep up to the statement “Athiti devo bhava” tend to trivialise “maatru devo bhava”

  16. Putta Says:

    Not understanding the arguments here. Do tourists come to Mysooru just to see just the hoardings or to watch Dasare events? Whats wrong if the hoardings are only in Kannada?

  17. Vinay Says:

    Just have it in both Kannada and English.

    No one’s asking for Hindi or Tamil signboards.

  18. ravi Says:

    well well. people talk a lot when slight inconvenience is caused to visitors. there are sufficient ads given in english. so what if few hoardings are not in english?

  19. mysore peshva Says:

    a few weeks ago i traveled in turkey. almost all signage in istanbul is in turkish and almost everyone speaks only turkish.

    it was a beautiful experience! — the turks are gentle, handsome people, proud of their progressive heritage. strangers tend to receive visitors with respect and affection. even when the shopkeepers haggle (in istanbul’s famous spice bazaar, or in taksim square) it seems sweet!

    on the other hand, many indians seem to be sweeter in words (“atithi devo bhava” and all that) than in actions.

    our rickshaw and taxi drivers, shopkeepers and police constables — all points of first contact for a tourist — seem to routinely indulge in racist behavior, discriminating against individuals based on language or color of skin.

    our grand heritage monuments too often enforce separate entry rates based on color or skin — and that’s allowed by the courts.

    our parking lots are too often run by rude oafs that seem to revel in scaring visitors to our 2,500-year-old forts and monuments. many of our grand 1,500-year-old temples are littered, surrounded by annoying hawkers, with blaring music 24×7, no wheelchair access, and no concern for the elderly or infirm pilgrim. pilgrims often are left thinking more about petty crooks out to get their money or their chappals than about their diety, or about the calm, reflective experience that one should expect in any temple.

    to a tourist, too often the common ram/rahim on our streets tries to be be sneaky, snide, selfish, or just plain petty. to a tourist, too often indians seem to evince little genuine interest in GIVING to the tourist as much as they love TAKING from the tourist.

    sorry folks, but it is all a bit disgusting.

    so while we introspect, while we fix our poor attitude toward vulnerable tourists, we might do well to have english signage — if only to minimize interaction with possibly unpleasant locals!

    and yes, all of us may want to visit turkey for a lesson. after all, istanbul gets more foreign tourists per year than all of india!

  20. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    My language, first and last.

  21. brandi Says:

    i think the guy vinay is too much anglicised.
    am seeing his comments for a past few weeks….
    looks like he is a NRI kannadiga but cannot understand kannada and so looks for english everywhere still trying to maintain kannadiga status.

    we have to seriously consider educating these kind of people as they are the real threats for language….

  22. akshayablogs Says:

    Answer to people who said that language in the hoardings matter to entice tourists..

    Tourists from overseas drop in with full information of the place and the program and dont resort to hoardings or handouts for information.. People writing the comments are so exaggerating it, as though people from outside karnataka and outside India come to know about mysore dasara just by the hoardings and nothing else!

    Inflow of tourists this time has increased and even the last time and this time, the hoardings were in Kannada.. how would people complaining justify that?

    I had been to luxembourg once and observed that directions to a famous museum was in french.. why is it that they cant put the directions in english and here is the answer, you visit any place to see how special is it.. whats new in store for the tourists? same applies to agra and jaipur.. so many directions (milestones for example) were in hindi.. why is it not in kannada? I would not expect kannada there and instead I enjoy the view of tajmahal or hawa mahal..

    for people who complain, It is just the failure of the people to blend in or harmonise themselves with the local population and culture..

  23. Satya Says:

    Then why ‘airtel’ in English?

  24. Vinay Says:


    What comments of mine have you been “seeing for the past few weeks”? I know Kannada perfectly well, and stay in Bangalore.

    So, maybe you ought to come up with some coherent argument against all those points you don’t agree with in the “last few weeks”, instead of talking nonsense about “anglicized” and “threat to language”.

  25. Jayashree Says:


  26. Jayashree Says:
    Help line!

  27. brandi Says:

    that’s normal. you already have a casual outlook of family which speaks kannada at home just like NRN .
    I see that you have great inferiority complex to think like as you think in reality. A english bhoota aavarisibidutthade.
    I recommend puttanna’s films . for a start go for this.

  28. Vinay Says:


    My question was, which of my comments have you been “seeing for the past few weeks”? Are you always this stupid, or is it reserved for churumuri comments?

    You have an inferiority complex, maybe that is why you come here and troll instead of having a proper discussion by justifying your comments. For example, you could have explained what led you to believe that I have “a casual outlook of family which speaks kannada at home just like NRN”, instead of making a statement like a nincompoop.

  29. Rama Says:

    I’ve never seen so much insecurity in any state! if the heritage is rich then there wont be any need to blacken boards written in English. go even to villages. people will call strangers ‘Saaar’. In North India they call Baayi or Bhayya, in Kerala they call ‘Chetta’ and in TN they call “annai or Thambi”. This is the only state were ‘Saar’ is heard. should n’t we blacken their faces?

  30. the colonel Says:

    my dear rama: the straight answer is “NO”.

    usage of words is not an indicator of the mind or soul.

    its just usage.

    you have the freedom to blacken your face wrongly.

    ji , hazoor, hukum, sain are all used.

  31. CK Says:

    Next, they will say,

    “why not hip-hop and rap music so that Western Tourists feel at home ? Are kannadigas so insecure/narrowminded that they want only kannada music in kannada festival ?”

    So thats how it starts. First signboards in English, then it will be English music and finally there will be no kannada left in the Dasara Festival.

    I hope the Dussehra festival in Mysore, in its craze to attract tourists from all over India and the world, does not lose its kannada flavour.

    It should be a festival to celebrate kannada culture and not make money or attract tourists.

  32. CK Says:

    Lets not forget that it is our craze for money that resulted in 70% of students being churned out of Karnataka Engineering Colleges, being North Indian. Now these northies compete with KRN natives in the job market in Bengaluru and we cry horse about Northie Invasion, when it is we who opened the gates to them !

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