Practicing for the 21-gun salute

Mysore, Oct. 9 (JP&MSA)- The 21-gun salute heralds the advent of Vijayadashmi. There are about ten cannons in the front inner courtyard of Amba Vilas Palace and only three are used and three-men teams are deputed to operate the cannons.

In the early 50s, all ten cannons would be hauled over to the vicinity of Doddakere maidan and all ten would boom!

The young Police Officer who has done his Master's in Journalism told SOM, "Practice makes perfect. Timing, speed and perfect coordination are necessary."

Not wishing to be identified, he said, "Three teams are formed and operate to specific commands of the artillery officer. The officer, who stands at the head of the barrel, first cleans the barrel with the brush-end of the wooden shaft and then uses the hard-end to ram the cannonball. The moment he does so, the second personnel who stands in readiness near the breech-end of the cannon pours in a measured amount of gun powder. He uses a measure of gun powder and has to be very precise. Too much could cause a massive blow-back with the cannon being propelled backwards with force. Too little means that it is a dud. The third man is holding the lighted torch and has to run swiftly, light the gunpowder and then sprint out.

"The moment the gunpowder is lit it is in seconds that the cannonball is fired. There is a blow-back and the cannon rocks back. It has to be hauled in position before the next shot is fired. In a similar manner, the three-men teams who operate each of the three cannons practice several times in the morning. On the actual day, each cannon is fired seven times in succession. That is how you hear the 21-gun salute."

The cannons have the Royal Gandabherunda insignia. Details about who cast these cannons is not known but what is known is that there were Spanish and Swiss armourers in Srirangapatna right from the times of Tipu Sultan.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore