Everyone is well-aware of the acclaimed festival of colours, aka Holi, where people across India gather and play with gulaal or "rang", painting the streets colourful. But, did you know that there's a festival in Maharashtra called "Shri Vittal Birdev Annual Yatra" at Pattan Kodoli, commonly known as the Haldi Festival? Let's #Discovertheunique with this eccentric celebration!
The significance behind The Haldi Festival:
Observed at the Pattan Kodoli village in Hatkangale Taluka, near Kolhapur, the Haldi Festival is a celebration marking the birth anniversary (Janmotsav) of Vitthal Birdev Maharaj, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Birdev Maharaj was considered the family deity of the Shepherd community of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Several devotees visit this annual festival that many might be unaware of, coming together to celebrate his birth.
Pattan Kodoli is situated around 17km from Kolhapur, between the foothills of the Panhala fort and the Warana River. Devotees start their journey weeks in advance, reaching the temple by foot from their own villages, just in time for the Yatra. The festival commemorates with the streets a blend of food, entertainment, local crafts stalls, and people. Although termed the Haldi Festival, devotees use Bhandara, a yellow pigment powder similar to turmeric (hence the name), believed to contain medicinal benefits.
Photo Credits: Sumeet Kadakia Instagram
Devotees from the Shepherd community offer the Bhandara with dry coconut pieces to God, blessing it by showering the idol, which is then taken home after collecting from God's feet. That is said to be used on other auspicious days or even as a cure for illnesses. The Yatra has groups of people singing bhajans/ kirtans and folk songs, while the devotees go around showering everything they worship with turmeric-like powder. Like holi, everyone scatters the Bhandara on each other, soon enough blanketing everything with a golden-yellow powder, a gorgeous sight to see!
The main ceremony happens between 1 pm to 5 pm, and you'll see devotees carrying an umbrella-like decorated object, carrying it towards the temple with a band of drummers. After a darshan (prayer), they all gather in an open area, where the celebration occurs, playing the drums, spinning the massive umbrellas, singing, dancing, and performing acrobatics.
Photo Credits: Sumeet Kadakia Instagram
The Baba: An Unmissable Attraction
One of the main attractions of the unexplored Haldi Festival is Shree Kheloba Rajabhau Waghmode, aka Baba, who walks 17 days from Anjungaon, his village, to reach the festival's destination. For most of the celebration, he sits under a banyan tree on a small mandap set up for the devotees to get his blessings. He foresees the future, making predictions on the climate, crops, businesses, and health in the new year, benefitting the farmers. After some rituals, the Baba gets hold of a sword, and people believe that a God descends into him, leading to a mesmerising performance for the devotees. Several people observed this tradition for over 100 years, dating before weather satellites existed, making his predictions all the more real, even as per 90% of the locals.
Photo Credits: Arun Saha Instagram
Details for 2022:
If you wish to experience this gorgeous festival, you have the chance to do it with its commencement on October 17 to October 20 this year. Colour yourself yellow by visiting this four-day colourful festival, drenching in the pigments of the Bhandara. You can take a train, bus, or even plan a road trip from Mumbai to the village where the celebrations will take place. Plan your journey with a visit to Kolhapur and then visit the festival for a wholesome trip.
Best Travel Options #TTSRecommends from Mumbai to Pattan Kodoli: Travel Time by Bus: 9hrs 18mins approx Travel Time by Night Bus: 8hrs 2mins approx Travel Time by Train: 10hrs 45mins approx Travel Time by Car/Taxi: 5hrs 37mins approx Flight to Kolhapur: Might involve a layover and duration will differ as per your city. Kolhapur to Pattan Kodoli: 30 mins (approx)
Photo Credits: Abhilash Panda (panda.photos) Instagram