HALDI Festival Kodoli Kolhapur

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2021

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1. This pic is when festival was at its peak. It is celebrated in village Pattan Kodoli i.e. about a 30 minute drive from Kolhapur. It is celebrated by the Dhangar or shepherd community that resides in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh & Goa. Ahilyabai Holkar belonged to the Dhangar community. Pic by Sudhir Nazare.

2. Roadside eating place. We reached about 9.15 am. Hailing from Anjungau Village, Sri Keloba Rajabau Waghmode, known as the `Baba` of the devotees, walks 17 days from his village to reach Pattan Kodoli for the festival. He sits under a mandap, devotees seek his blessings n throw haldi around. Later he walks from mandap to temple.

3. The powder is actually Bhandara, looks like Haldi. The Haldi festival or Shri Vittal Birdev festival is to commemorate the birth anniversary of Vitthal Birdev Maharaj, who is considered to be a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Birdev is the family deity of the Dhangar community. But the temple in Pattan kodoli is famous because it houses both the murtis of Lord Birdev and Lord Vittal.

4. Devotees in small groups sing devotional songs. Pic is also meant to show their dress and turban type. Birdev Maharaj is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vittal is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Shiva.

5. Lady selling powder. The annual fair attracts thousands of devotees. Behind the temple the Dhangar (shepherd) community sell blankets made of goat hair. Captions taken from different sites and blogs, all credit to them.

6. This is the mandap where Baba sits. In 2019 the festival was celebrated from 17-24 October with 20 being the most important day. “The festival is celebrated with bhandara, a yellow powder that looks similar to turmeric but is different. It has medicinal properties.” Dhangars offer bhandara with dry coconut pieces to their God.”

7. Baba head covered with a blanket. Devotees come for darshan. Bhandara is applied on their forehead. The Shepherd community offer bhandara mixed with dry coconut pieces to God. The devotees collect the bhandara from the God’s feet and take it home. They use it on auspicious occasions and to cure any illness. Along with bhandara they also offer goat’s hair to the god.

8. Close up of Baba, lucky to get. Center of attraction of Pattan kodoli festival is Shree Kheloba Rajabhau Waghmode Baba, from Anjungaon village. The village is located in Solapur District. He is believed to be the messenger of God. He is also known as the Farande Baba.

9. Lady devotees offering respects. From 9.30 am to say about 12.30 pm Baba covers himself with a blanket, sits in the mandap and devotees seek his blessings.

10. Energy that devotees bring in while singing and playing musical instruments is amazing. Festival attracts devotees across states just like the Kaati Holi in Nandurbar district. State wise boundaries are meant for governance not getting together of devotees who follow a certain tradition.

11. Another group of devotees. Note cloth cover design on dholak.

12. A senior couple clicked in the area just behind the temple. Since Dhangars are a shepherd community, blankets are sold here. More u will see later.

13. A disabled man, too covered with Bhandara, being offered food by a lady. Touched by the compassion hence this pic.

14. Entrance to the Shri Vittal Dev Birdev Mandir. Simple structure. Birdev Maharaj is the family deity of the Dhangar community. Birdev Maharaj is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vittal is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Shiva.

15. Inside the temple, devotees and powder is all I could see.

16. Deepsthambs on either side. Road outside temple that takes one to mandap area.

17. Mobile phone is part of every life, rural and urban. Inside temple complex are rooms for devotees to camp.

18. Group of ladies in one such room. Ladies in centre seem to be from a South Indian state, the others going by the saree are from Maharashtra.

19. This is outside the main temple. Did not go in. But think it is for worship of saints associated with the Bhakti Movement. If know more please tell.

20. Inside the temple is this huge bell which devotees must visit. U can see a long line behind. There was bhandara or powder all over.

21. Devotee inside the temple. Met many elders who came with their children.

22. A fair is on next to the temple. On right of pic is a Tutari. “Tutari, the Marathi trumpet, is a bugle-like instrument. Traditionally, it was made of bullock horn. However, with the passage of time, it is now made of metal. In the past, Tutari was played before the arrival of rulers and kings of Maharashtra to announce their arrival. Tutari music is also an integral part of the Palkhi tradition of Maharashtra.”

23. Applying bhandara on the head is a must for devotees entering the temple. U see boys applying bhandara on girl’s forehead.

24. This is how one looked. Covered with powder, making every effort to protect the camera.

25. Found most men wearing turbans, all different styles. Wish someone could enlighten on different turban wearing styles. Pic shows how turban is tied on the head back side.

26. Dhols are part of every festival celebration. This inside the temple. Powder everywhere.

27. Goat hair ka blanket. Interestingly, devotees also offer goat-hair to their God. Goat is the most important animal in their pastoral life. The community is known to make blankets out of goat’s hair.

28. This gives you an idea of what all is sold. Love the people who celebrate the festival, so much positive energy. It is a biggish village, you get basic stuff to eat. There is a Bangalore Ayyengar Bakery.

29. Back to the mandap area. Devotees also perform various kinds of tasks for penance. You’ll see people getting stuck by hunters, two at a time. The sounds that comes out when the leather strikes the person’s body is enough to understand the level of pain one would feel.

30. Person in centre of pic removed his shirt, hit by a hunter. He seems to be in some trance now and dancing.

31. Note turban style and look in his eyes. Loved it.

32. Mandap area before the main event starts. Note the number of people selling coconuts. The Shepherd community offer bhandara mixed with dry coconut pieces to God. Assume coconuts offered in temple and taken back as prasad.

33. Before Baba gets to walk from the mandap. There are security men on all sides, they too look yellow.

34. The energy is which these devotees sang devotional songs is what I loved.

35. Notice turban style and bhandara powder all over face. With beard and turban most might think he is a Sikh. Turban wearing is a tradition across India, the styles vary.

36. Another group of devotees singing devotional songs. Note ladies sat separately.

37. The big event is about to start. People stand at a height to get a bird’s eye view. The path that Baba shall walk is cordoned off.

38. Devotees playing drums in front of the mandap where Baba was sitting.

39. This is how one looks, bhandara powder all over. We had a longish bath on returning to the hotel and had to clean cameras thoroughly.

40. Devotees bring huge umbrellas to welcome Baba to Shri Vittal Birdev temple, accompanied by a procession with drums and traditional music. The umbrellas and the drums are used as part of dance and celebration. The umbrellas form a great visual significance in the procession of Farande Baba (Shree Kheloba Rajabhau Waghmode Baba).

41. By about 1 Baba got up, removed blanket and then opened his hair-crowds roared when he opened hair. After a few rituals a sword is handed over to him, after which God descends into him. Baba attains a trance mode and he starts dancing with a holy sword and makes his way towards the temple. This dance is known as Hedam Nritya. Baba’s larger than life dance performance mesmerizes devotes and they shower bhandara on him. Pic by Sudhir Nazare.

42. Baba with hair open, sword in hand. Baba is revered “for his ability to foretell his predictions about farming, rain and future conditions of the country.” Wish Maharashtra government promoted festival and had movable toilets. Can someone tell who the two men with sticks in hand, close to Baba, are and what are they doing. Pic by Sudhir Nazare.

43. Close up of Baba with sword. “As soon he entered the temple, Baba attained a trance mode that made him jump and dance that lasted for nearly 10 minutes. The Baba then went ahead to foretell his predictions about farming, rain and future conditions in Kannada, his trance language, which was translated by the priest” into Marathi.

44. Devotees on terrace of a private home to witness the proceedings.

45. Umbrellas and haldi. Baba moves to the temple later. He speaks in Kannada, it is translated in Marathi as well. In fact saw police from Karnataka as well. Best to go in a group. Contact travel organiser Santosh Nimbalkar 91 92234 38236, 91 93201 77731 if you wish to go. Pic by Sudhir Nazare.

46. End of festival saw devotees throw bhandara powder in the air. What an experience?

47. Scene after festival over. We left for Kolhapur by about 3 pm. Festival is celebrated in October every year. I went two days before and spent time in Kolhapur – lots to see. For a good travelogue https://ravikanthkurma.com/shri-vittal-birdev-annual-yatra-at-pattan-kodoli

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