Shreenath Veer Mhaskoba festival is the annual pilgrimage of Lord Mhaskoba Maharaj celebrated in the Veer village which is situated 50 Km from Pune in Maharashtra of India. The village, on the bank of the river Purnaganga, comes under the Taluka Purandar, overlooking the historical Purandar Fort at a distance. The festival takes place during the Magh Poornima (full moon of February) and continues for ten days; the Sunday and the last day being the most prominent of all the events. Millions of followers and devotees of Mhaskoba Maharaj gather to the Shreenath Mhaskoba temple at Veer to show their faith and reverence from all around Maharashtra and its adjacent states. Hundreds of Palkhis with the god’s idol are brought here with Tutari(regional bugle), saffron flag and decorated bullock cart. Saffron flag is the rational heritage of Maharashtra culture. It is put on a long metallic pole and carried by the devotees on shoulder to the temple. They show their devotion by chanting Mantras to their almighty god, blowing red Gulal in the air and performing religious rural activities which are rarely known to the common people. The entire temple premise gets submerged into the colour red with a dark red floor surrounded by the air soaked in red Gulal powder. The entire area gets sunk into the adrenaline rush of human devotion and faith. Amidst the devotional movement, spiritual leaders from the community perform Chabina dance with holy sword. They then pronounce the prophecy of the climate and the harvesting prospect of the upcoming year. This part of the event is the cynosure of the entire festival. People attending the pilgrimage for many years testify that earning blessings of Lord Mhaskoba Maharaj with devotional worship fulfills their prayers and wishes.

Mhaskoba is believed to be the mythological re incarnation of Hindu deity Lord shiva as Maha Kal Bhairava. Bhairava, the name derived from the word bhiru(fearful), is considered as the most fearful and terrifying aspect and manifestation of lord Shiva. It is believed to be created by Lord Shiva himself to project a threat against Lord Brahma and to chastise him. Bhairava, as an embodiment of fear to all fear, also interprets to be destroyer or beyond of all fear and the protector of his devotees from dreadful enemies, lust greed and anger. He is believed to have eight manifestations to guard the universe from all eight directions. Bhairava is worshiped in different geographical places in different form and name, as the Khetrapal( protecting god) for a locality or a village. In Maharashtra, Kal Bhairava is believed to be worshipped in the name of Shreenath Mhaskoba. The legend of Shreenath Mhaskoba, tells that there lived a cowherd named Kamlaji in the village of Veer. Owing to Kamlaji’s selfless devotion, Shreenath Mhaskoba replied to his prayer and came to live in his village and protect it. Ahead of Kamlaji’s time, another ardent devotee from nearby Kodit Budruk village, Tulaji Badade Patil, earned the blessings of Mashkoba Maharaj and his village too brought into his protection. So during the annual Veer Jatra every year, this village also gets veneered.

Though elsewhere in Maharashtra, pink Gulal is used to celebrate the annual Jatra in most of the places, but the reason to use red Gulal here is not very clear till now. The most possible reason may be that as the Kal Bhairava or Mhaskoba is worshiped as Hindu Tantric deity where vermillion or kumkum is the main ingredients to smear the god which are dark red in colour. This red colour symbolises blood or fear. Tantra Sadhana used to be practised in the Veer temple at the earlier time while worshipping Shreenath Mhaskoba Maharaj. So there is a high chance of the reason of using red Gulal during this annual Veer pilgrimage celebration.

Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Satara, the royal Maratha king, during one of his tiring hunt for a dreaded tiger, he visited the temple and offered his prayer. After the successful execution, he worshipped Mhaskoba Maharaj as the Kulswamy(family god) and started an annual grant for the pilgrimage. He also built the gabhara(inner portion) and the Deep mala near Nagar Khana of the present temple. This annual ceremony of the pilgrimage, where people throng from around the states to offer their faith and devotion, is more popular in devotees’ heart as the Shreenath Veer Mhaskoba Jatra.

 

 

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