Historic ‘Marbat’ procession to be taken out today

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 Sep 2018 10:35:21


Staff Reporter,


The new entrant, ‘Bhuri Marbat’, to be taken out by Gender Equality Organisation, is set to hog the limelight too

Orange City is all set for ‘Marbat’ procession to be taken out with traditional festival on Monday. The festival has become a unique identity of the Vidarbha. ‘Eeda, peeda gheun jaa ge Marbat’ (Take away all social evils and human miseries)... the chants reverberate in East Nagpur on the second day of ‘Pola’ as a rich tradition of over 130 years keeps adding to its uniqueness.

The ‘Marbat’ procession has become Nagpur’s traditional identity as men dressed in traditional attire carry huge, grotesque clay idols daubed in yellow and black, urging them to take away all social, political evils and miseries.The two effigies ‘Kali’ (black) and ‘Pivli’ (yellow) are used as symbols to express pent-up fury by common people against government decisions and wrong policies. From this year there is an addition to these two ‘Marbat’. A ‘Bhuri Marbat’ (Grey) will be taken out by Gender Equality Organisation (GEO).

The tradition has continued with aplomb, making it one of its kind in the country. The Teli and Koshti communities are following it with passion and fervour. The ‘Kali Marbat’ represents the Bhonsla queen Maharani Bankabai, who supported the British during the revolt of 1857 rather than restoring independence to Nagpur. The ‘Pivli Marbat’, which originally symbolised atrocities of the British rulers,today stands for social evils like corruption or epidemic.

Shri Devasthan Panch Kameti of Itwari Bardana Market, Nehru Putala started the tradition of taking out procession of ‘Kali Marbat’ in 1881 while the Tarhane Teli Samaj started the procession of ‘Pivali Marbat’ in 1885. “The ‘Kali Marbat’ procession was started to express anger of common people against Bankabai, who joined hands with British. Bankabai represents Putana, the demon who wanted to kill Lord Krishna.The Lord killed her and people burnt Putana’s body out side their village. Putana represents evil which wants to destroy the health, prosperity and strength of a person.Thus,the tradition started to take out procession of all evils in society and burn them to keep the city free from all dangers,” said Shri Devasthan Panch Kameti President Milind Madne, Secretary Devendra Harde and Treasurer Nikhil Tidke.

The Tarhane Teli Samaj takes out ‘Pivli Marbat’ procession. In fact, the community starts celebrating the festival from the very second day of Janmashtami.
According to President Prakash Gaurkar, Secretary Vijay Khopde,Treasurer Devidas Gabhane and Joint Secretary Kishore Malkar the Teli community in Vidarbha played an important role in freedom movement. “The community started Marbat Utsav in1885 to fight against British. The British rule was considered as a ‘non curable and chronic disease’ for the entire country. Inspired by the mythological event of demon Putana’s killing by Lord Krishna the Teli Samaj started this festival considering British rule as Putana and a prayer to relieve the country from the demon,” they said.

Both these organisations take out ‘Marbat’ processions on the second day of ‘Pola’. There is also a tradition to burn branches of Palash tree (Butea monosperma). People bring the branches of Palash tree to their homes and pray be fore it to take away diseases. They later burn the same after urging the Marbat to take away the disease. The unique tradition continues to attract crowd and media attention.

Surprisingly,there has been precious little academic research from scholars of the region on the Marbat festival. This fact surprised even Julian Anthony Lynch, a PhD student in Ethnomusicology and Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He learnt about the Marbat procession and decided to attend the festival.

In his pre-dissertation document, he wrote about Marbat: “I divided my time between Delhi, Nagpur,and Mumbai, with each location offering critical perspectives towards both my own dissertation in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology as well as the greater social justice mission of the fellowship.The most compelling aspect of my research involved my attendance at a festival called Marbat in the city of Nagpur, located in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

Having consulted scholars at the Nagpur University, it appears that no substantial academic work on the Marbat festival exists in English, Hindi, or Marathi language publications.” Lynch has given elaborate description of the Marbat procession, its history and importance of symbolism but rued the lack of research on the interesting festival. The lack of research has also raised a query over the origin of ‘Kali Marbat’ procession.

Though the common and accepted belief terms it as a protest of Maharani Bankabai, noted historian Dr BR Andhare in his recent book ‘Shrimant Maharani Bakabai Saheb Bhonsale’ has sought to differ on the origin. Away from all this the Marbats are eagerly awaited on ‘Tanha Pola day.The addition of ‘Badgya’makes it a grand meeting of the three huge effigies. It is a frenzy which even the political powers welcome with open hearts to know about the general feeling of common man.