VITTAL BIRDEV YATRA: THE YELLOW FESTIVAL OF PATTAN KODOLI
Article and Images by Tania Chatterjee
Vittal Birdev Yatra in Pattan kodoli is unique. During the 4 days of celebration of Lord Birdev Maharaj’s birthday, the sky turns yellow because people throw bhandara (a turmeric like yellow powder) and everything in the village turns yellow. Vittal Birdev Jatra of Pattan kodoli is the most colorful bhandara festival of Maharashtra.
Yellow festival in Pattan kodoli
India is diverse land. It has many cultures and rituals. Vittal Birdev Yatra is one of such fascinating festival. It represents India’s great cultural heritage. The festival is celebrated for a good weather in upcoming crop season. The festival is specific to a community widely spread in that region.
Vittal Birdev Yatra is observed in Pattan kodali village every year. Pattan kodoli is a village located in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra state, India. This yatra is a part of birth anniversary of community deity Lord Birdev Maharaj.
Vittal and Birdev Maharaj
Birdev Maharaj is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vittal is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Shiva. Birdev Maharaj is the family deity of the Dhangar community. This community is primarily located in parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Dhangar is a nomadic and pastoral community.
There are numerous temples of Lord Vittal and Lord Birdev across this region. But the temple in Pattan kodoli is famous because it houses both the idols of Lord Birdev and Lord Vittal.
The festival is meant to seek the blessing from Lord Vittal and Lord Birdev Maharaj for the upcoming dry season. Dry seasons are the most difficult times for pastoral communities.
Vittal Birdev Yatra
Vittal Birdev Yatra is typically celebrated in the month of October every year, a fortnight after the Dussehra. Devotees start their pilgrimage towards Pattan kodoli village soon after Dussehra. The devotees start walking to the temple in Pattan Kodoli. For some devotees the journey might takes days and weeks.
PATTAN KODALI FESTIVAL
Lakhs of Dhangar community people gather at Vittal Birdev temple in Pattan kodoli village. Men, women and children take this arduous journey on foot. Most of the devotees who make this journey are aged men and women with great wisdom and strength. They gather in the temple premises to celebrate this festival.
Devotees offer bhandara and coconut to God.Interestingly, devotees also offer goat-hair to the God. Goat is the most important animal in their pastoral life. The community is known to make blankets out of goat’s hair.
Devotees gather in small groups and sing folk songs along with drum. These group activities are the most interesting places to shoot wonderful portraits and candid shots. It is also a good opportunity to experience the lives of this pastoral community.
The Worship – Showering of Bhandara
During the group singing and drumming people shower bhandara on everything they like to worship. They throw the yellow powder and pieces of coconut in the temple premises and surrounding areas. The showering of bhandara is a vibrant activity and it results to turn the temple and its surrounding in yellow colour.
People also carry large umbrellas along with them. 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).
Most of the people who come from different villages rest within the temple complex. Devotees collect the Bhandara from the temple and carry them back home. The Bhandara is a blessing for the families, they often use it to cure ailments and ward off evil spirits.
HIGHLIGHT OF PATTAN KODOLI FESTIVAL
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. He reaches the temple on first day. For the next 4 days of the festival, Farande Baba sits under a big banyan tree and gives his blessings to the devotees. The banyan tree is close to the temple and is considered very pious.
On the final day (day 4) of the celebration, the Baba gives his prediction on upcoming year’s climate, agricultural and business prosperity etc. Thousands of devotees gather in the temple premises to observe the rituals.
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.
Devotees play drums, spin the huge umbrellas, and sing folk songs. Most importantly, devotees also dance and do acrobatics acts along with the Hedam Nritya. The procession slowly moves along with baba and enters the main temple and the program ends.
PATTAN KODOLI FESTIVAL: TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER’S DREAM DESTINATION
Pattan kodoli is one of the colorful festivals in India. The vibrant yellow color; mystical traditional ritual; and above all Baba’s larger than life dance performance creates a vibrant environment. The energy and dedication amongst the devotees create an electrifying ambiance. It creates ample photographic opportunities. Get in touch with me to know more about this festival.
Apart from the Vittal Birdev Yatra – Pattan Kodoli other nearby places of interest are the Kolhapur Taleem to experience great Indian traditional wrestlers, Mahalaxmi Temple Kolhapur and Khasbag Stadium.
Tania Chatterjee is an avid portrait, travel and documentary photographer. Her story on Pattan Kodali speaks about the faith of common men and women from India.
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