Updated: Aug 22
We are excited to share the fascinating story of the Marbat festival, a unique tradition celebrated exclusively in the city of Nagpur. With a history spanning over 142 years, this festival holds immense significance for Nagpurians, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil and providing a platform to address social issues.
The streets of Nagpur came alive with excitement and enthusiasm as the Marbat festival takes place. The highlight of the festival is the grand procession of the black and yellow effigies, known as "piwli" and "kaali" Marbat, respectively. These magnificent creations are paraded through the lanes of Itwari and East Nagpur, covering a distance of 10 kilometers, before being set ablaze at Naik Talao. The burning of these effigies represented the eradication of negativity and the victory of righteousness. As the procession moves forward, the chant "Ida, pida gheun jaa ge Marbat" (Take away social evils and human miseries) echoes through the air, creating an atmosphere of unity and hope.
The Kaali Marbat holds a special significance as it represents the Bhonsla queen Bakabai, who sided the British Power as they assured her grandson & her to be in power/reign. This effigy serves as an expression of the people's discontent towards her actions. On the other hand, the yellow Marbat symbolizes not only the era of British rule but also represents epidemics and diseases. Each year, the festival introduces new "badgyas" or mascots that embody specific societal issues, shedding light on challenges such as alcoholism, rising prices, and corruption. These mascots play a crucial role in raising awareness and initiating conversations about prevalent social issues.
Adding to the festival's charm is its mythological essence. The Kali and Pivli Marbat idols represent Putna, the demoness appointed by Kans, who attempted to harm Lord Krishna during Pola. While according to some locals, Kali and Pivli are believed to be sisters who meet each other on this day. This connection with mythology adds a deep cultural significance to the festival.
Months of meticulous preparation by the Tarhane Teli community for the yellow Marbat and local shopkeepers near Nehru Putla Square for the kaali Marbat precede the grand procession. These effigies, crafted with bamboo and paper, undergo a meticulous process to ensure their beauty and significance shine through during the festival.
Attending a Marbat procession is an experience like no other. The vibrant display of traditional songs and captivating dance performances creates an atmosphere of joy and celebration. What began as a protest against the British in the 1880s has now evolved into a cherished social festival, unique to Nagpur. Marbat has become an essential part of Nagpur's cultural fabric, bringing the community together in unity and celebration.
Beyond its cultural significance, Marbat serves as a platform to raise social awareness and address pressing issues. It provides a voice to the community, allowing concerns to be expressed and drawing the government's attention to matters of importance.
We hope this newsletter has provided you with a glimpse into the enchanting Marbat festival, a unique cultural event. Let the vibrant traditions and community spirit of Nagpur inspire you to explore and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of this unique city.
Wishing you a wonderful and joyful time ahead!