Shri Vittal Birdev Yatra, Pattankodoli – A Yellow Splash of Culture

Image courtesy: Dr. Arun Kumar Nalimela
The Pattankodoli Festival, though relatively obscure on the national stage, is an exuberant celebration that stands as one of Maharashtra’s most colorful Bhandara festivals. Nestled 17 kilometers from the historic town of Kolhapur, within the breathtaking embrace of the Panhala fort ranges and the Warana River, Pattankodoli comes alive each year during the Shri Vittal Birdev Yatra.

This joyous event pays homage to Vittal Birdev Maharaj, a revered figure within the Dhangar community, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. What makes this festival truly exceptional is the convergence of Dhangar communities from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Goa, collectively painting the atmosphere in vivid shades of yellow, reminiscent of the golden glow of Bhandara.

Pilgrimage and Devotion:

The heart of the festival lies in the unwavering devotion of its participants. Devotees embark on arduous foot journeys, spanning days and sometimes even weeks, to reach the hallowed temple for the Yatra. It’s a testament to their profound faith and commitment, which sets the stage for the grand festivities that follow.

Image courtesy: Akshaya B

The Yellow Euphoria:

The essence of the Pattankodoli Bhandara Festival can be encapsulated in a single word – “Bhandara.” This fragrant, yellow powder, imbued with medicinal properties, takes center stage during the event. Much like the familiar turmeric, it plays a pivotal role in the celebrations, engulfing everything and everyone in a radiant yellow hue. The Shepherd community, deeply ingrained in tradition, showers the idol of God with this vivid yellow powder, artfully combined with fragments of dry coconut. This offering holds significance, with the collected materials reserved for special occasions and medicinal use. Additionally, devotees also present goat’s hair, a prized raw material used in crafting blankets.

Image courtesy: Akshaya B

Prophet of Hope:

Integral to the festival is the presence of Shree Kheloba Rajabhau Waghmode, a revered figure who journeys on foot from his village to Pattan Kodoli. His predictions, covering areas as diverse as climate, agricultural prospects, business, and health for the forthcoming year, are a lifeline for the region’s farmers. Under the shade of a banyan tree, this symbolic anointment with bhandara and dry coconut powder captures the essence of the festival and its vibrant spirit.

Image courtesy: Akshaya B

Image courtesy: Dr. Arun Kumar Nalimela

The Grand Revelation:

On the second day of the festivities, Baba takes center stage. After a series of sacred rituals, he is entrusted with the holy sword. Believed to be the vessel through which God communicates, Baba wields the sword, guiding the entire gathering into the temple. Here, he imparts his predictions, delivered in a distinct dialect of Kannada understood by a select few. These prophetic messages are subsequently translated and shared by the priest. The atmosphere during this period is electric, as devotees engage in drumming, twirl ornate umbrellas, sing folk songs, dance, and display acrobatic skills, all in celebration of God’s message.

A Cultural Tapestry:

The festival is not just a spiritual journey but a cultural tapestry. Devotees gather in small groups, engaging in the melodious singing of bhajans and folk songs. Bhandara, akin to the festivities of Holi, adorns everyone and transforms the surroundings into a golden panorama. The sheer visual spectacle is captivating, leaving onlookers in awe.

Image courtesy: Dr. Arun Kumar Nalimela

A Glorious End:

The celebrations reach their climax on the fourth day, and Baba prepares to depart for his village, marking the end of this extraordinary festival. The Pattankodoli Festival is a remarkable opportunity to immerse oneself in a world of vibrant traditions, faith, and unity. It’s a chance to embrace the colour yellow in all its glory, symbolizing hope, tradition, and a deep sense of community.

If you plan to partake in this celebration, be sure to don your most vibrant shade of yellow and prepare to become part of an unforgettable cultural experience.

This event is just around the corner, so don’t miss out on all the action from November 1st to 4th this year!

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