Shri Vittal Birdev Yatra or Pattan Kodoli Yatra is observed in at Pattan Kodoli village in Hatkangale Taluka near Kolhapur. The annual fair and festival is attended by thousands of devotees who come from all over Maharashtra, Goa, some parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. The 2019 Pattan Kodoli Yatra starts on 19th October and will go on for about 15 days.It is the birth anniversary or Janmotsav festival of Vitthal Birdev Maharaj, who is regarded reincarnation of Lord Shankar and Vishnu by the Dhangar community.
India – land of festivals and fairs
India is a land of immeasurable diversity which is most evident in its culture, rituals and traditions. The fairs and festivals reflect the vibrant culture of the country. These fairs and festivals find their roots in the traditions, religious beliefs, myths and even seasons of the country. Maharashtra state is known for many cultural festivals such as Ganeshotsav, Pandharpur wari and Jejuri Bhandara. But beyond these, there are so many hidden and unique festivals unknown to majority of us. These unique festivals capture true essence of communal harmony and also lead to economic upliftment of region.
Pattan Kodoli Fair is one such lesser known fair celebrated in a small hamlet in the Hatkanangle Tehsil of Kolhapur district in Maharashtra. The festival is to offer prayers to Shri Vitthal Birdev, the principal deity of the shepherd community. It is believed to bring in good fortune to the community. It is typically celebrated in the month of October (Hindu month – Ashwin) every year, a fortnight after Dusshera.
Dhangar community and legend of Vitthal Birdev
The generational occupation of the Dhangars has been to live off the earth. As pastoralists (“shepherds and cowherds, blanket- and wool-weavers, butchers and farmers”), they make their way through mountains and forests, living like nomads. Dhangars worship Lord Birdev regarded as reincarnation of Lord Mahadev and Vishnu. There are numerous temples of Birdev in villages such as Aarewadi (Sangli), Katrafal (Sangola, Solapur), Pattan Kodoli (Kolhapur). In Karnataka state, there are temples of Birdev’s disciple Malappa. Among these, Pattan Kodoli’s temple is unique as it houses both Lord Birdev (reincarnation of Lord Shankar) and Vitthal (reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) together.
The legend of Lord Birdev is popular among Dhangar community. On earth two demons named Gajalinga and Redasur had made all Gods slaves. So, Gods went to Lord Vishnu and Shankar. Lord Shankar reincarnated as Lord Birdev (a shepherd) and fought fierce battle and freed everyone from of two demons. Dhangar community celebrates birth anniversary of Lord Birdev every year at Pattan Kodoli fair in the premises of Vitthal Birdev temple.
Pattan Kodoli Yatra Rituals
‘11 mahine sansar, 1 mahina devachi waari’ is the motto of devotees attending Pattan Kodoli Yatra which lasts for about 15 days. Devotees start their pilgrimage to Pattan Kodoli after Dasara taking about 15 days to reach village.
The festival is celebrated with bhandara. It is yellow powder, looks very similar to turmeric, but it is different. It has no smell and it is believed to have medicinal properties. The Shepherd community offer bhandara mixed with dry coconut pieces, dried dates, wool (lokari) to the deity. It is consecrated by showering the God’s idol. The devotees collect the bhandara from the God’s feet and take it to their home. They use it on auspicious occasions and to cure any illness. Devotees from Karnataka bring goat’s milk in earthern pots as offerings to Vitthal Birdev. During the festival thousands of devotees gather in an open area in front of the banyan tree to watch the rituals. Throughout the day you can see many people gather in small groups and sing bhajans, dhangari ovis and folk songs. There are chants of ‘Birdevachya naavane changbhala (विठ्ठल बिरुदेवाच्या नावानं चांगभलं)’ filling entire atmosphere. The devotees also shower bhandara on everything they like or worship. During the peak of the procession your will be mesmerized and lost in the moment. In the blink of an eye everything turns to (gold) yellow. Here is video of festivities at Pattan Kodoli Yatra.
Highlight of the fair – Farandebaba
Although, fair lasts for 15 days, the main rituals take place only for four days. The most important ceremony of this fare is the predictions by Shree Kheloba Rajabhau Waghmode (Farandebaba), from Anjungaon, a village in Solapur District. In the morning people of village and Pujari(priest) worship divine sword of god. The elderly persons from selected families named as Joshi, Awate, Chougule, Naajare go to meet FarandeBaba with beautiful procession. The festive mood remains completely in groove with people throwing bhandara over him sitting under a Banyan tree and seeking his blessings. Sri Keloba Rajabau Waghmode, known as the ‘Baba’ of the devotees, walks for about 15 days from his village to reach Pattan Kodoli for the festival every year. He is considered as the messenger of god.
FarandeBaba’s Hedam Nritya and Bhaknuk
Huge umbrellas are brought in to welcome the Baba to the temple, accompanied with a procession with drums and traditional music, who sits on his throne under banyan tree. From there, Farandababa started a dance of hedam. During this time, millions of devotees throw Bhandara, Khobre, baby wool and money on Farandebaba Vitthal Birdeva while chanting Vitthal Birdev. Baba attains a trance mode that makes him jump and dance as he makes his way to temple. This dance where he dances with the sword hitting on his stomach is known as Hedam Nritya. The Baba then goes ahead to foretell his predictions (Bhaknuk) about farming, rain and future conditions in Kannada, his trance language, which is translated by the priest. He starts his journey back after the rituals gets over.
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Economic Benefit – Largest Blanket Sale
Fairs are not just social gatherings but also a means to boost economic activities. During Pattan Kodoli yatra, blankets are sold by Dhangar community. These blankets are hand-woven from goat’s wool and the timing is opportune at the start of winter season. Lord Vitthal Birdev was a shepherd himself and devotees believe these blankets are touched by His hands. Hence, the fair turns out to be a great shopping festival for blankets.
Environmental Impact – Bhandara vs Haldi
About 10-15 lakhs devotees attend Pattan Kodoli fair. Devotees are spreading Bhandara in atmosphere in huge quantity which creates much pollution. Even lakhs of people are coming creates burden on facilities like water, land and sanitation. These all creates environmental impact on Pattan kodoli. Some 35 to 40 tonnes of bhandara gets extracted every day. Bhandara is known to cause irritation to eyes and hence special efforts are taken by Devasthan Samiti to ensure that turmeric (haldi) is used instead of bhandara by the temple. Good quality turmeric is provided and care is taken not to affect the health of the devotees.
Pattan Kodoli Yatra – Photographer’s Dream
Pattan Kodoli Yatra is photographer’s dream for its vibrant colors, mystic rituals and unbelievable energy of the devotees. Being a relatively lesser known and less popular around the world, it provides opportunities to photographers which are unique.
How to reach Pattan Kodoli
The nearest city Kolhapur is about 20 kms from Pattan Kodoli. It can be reached by private cars, auto or state transport buses from Kolhapur.