A throwback to the happier days in Jejuri

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The city of Jejuri engulfs itself in golden turmeric to celebrate the victory of their Lord Khandoba.

India is a land of festivals, colours, and emotions. A strong sense of spirituality drives our people, and their belief in the almighty is tightly woven in their culture. Throughout the year, days and months are dedicated to various gods, and people look forward to celebrating all of these auspicious days with friends and family. 

Across the length and breadth of the nation, the variety and innovativeness of these festivals is surely a surprise.

The city of Jejuri engulfs itself in golden turmeric to celebrate the victory of their Lord Khandoba.

India is a land of festivals, colours, and emotions. A strong sense of spirituality drives our people, and their belief in the almighty is tightly woven in their culture. Throughout the year, days and months are dedicated to various gods, and people look forward to celebrating all of these auspicious days with friends and family. 

Across the length and breadth of the nation, the variety and innovativeness of these festivals is surely a surprise.

While some festivals are celebrated all over the country, a few stay unique to a particular state or region. One such festival is that of Jejuri Bhandara. Located around 50 km from Pune, the festival is celebrated in the small city of Jejuri that houses one of the most famous temples of Lord Khandoba, a popular family deity among the Deccan plateaus of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhara Pradesh.

When a new moon falls on a Monday – Somvati Amavasya, Jejuri celebrates an annual six-day fair from the first to the sixth lunar day during the Hindu month of Margashirsha. 

The festival celebrates the victory of Lord Shankara who incarnated as Martand Bhairava to destroy the Manimalal Goddess. The city engulfs itself in the golden turmeric as ardent followers from neighbouring towns flock the city to chant praises of Jai Malha.

Followers of Khandoba believe that their lord is a descendant of the Sun God – Surya and the turmeric symbolizes sunlight. As a part of the ritual, people throw this turmeric on each other as all-around painting the temple yellow. This is also where Jejuri gets its name ‘Sonyachi Jejuri’ (Golden Jejuri).

A little bizarre on the outside, devotees of the god inflict self-torture and pain to clean themselves of their sins. Women are seen going into a state of trance while men beat themselves to rid the family of ancestral sins, while their children seek blessing from their parents.

The energy of the devotees is exhausting. The temple during the festival is filled with people unanimously chanting to the beats of life-size cymbals and drums.

Though followers of lord Malhar eagerly wait for the festival every year, this year due to the national lockdown, the festival has been called off.

Lord Khandoba is majorly famous among nomadic, agricultural and hunting communities, and various merchant, warrior, and Deshastha Brahmin castes. Followers strongly believe that their lord married women from different communities to indicate the equality of various castes and communities.

With a long history of 250 years, every year, more than six lakh devotees come to Jejuri to seek blessing from lord Khandoba and immerse themselves in his praise. The temples see visitors from not only Maharashtra but also Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and northern and central Karnataka.

Photos: Sharon Singh

Texts: Najooka Javier