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Thousands of people throng the streets to celebrate the 138-year-old Marbat festival, which is celebrated only in Nagpur. As per tradition, devotees take out a procession carrying effigies that represent evil forces. The clay effigies or 'Marbats' of Kali (black) and Pivli (yellow) are the main attraction of the procession, which are burnt by the locals.
While the procession of Kali Marbat started in 1881, Pili Marbat celebrations date back to 1885. It was started by Tanhane Teli Samaj to oppose the bizarre rules and regulations of the British, which were considered to be social evils by them in those days. Prakash Gaurkar, President, Marbat Nagoba Devasthan, Tanhane Teli Samaj, told Nation Next, “We are carrying forward the legacy of our ancestors by symbolically protesting against various evils prominent in the society today. As a part of the celebrations, a Pili marbat (yellow statue) and a Kali marbat (black statue) are made at the Pili Marbat temple at Jagnath Budhwari. Then these two statues are taken through the streets of the entire Itwari market before they are put on fire at Naik Talao in the evening. It’s believed that these statues absorb the negativity and social evils when they are taken through the streets. And then the negativity and social evils are burnt along with the statues.”
After the procession, which goes on for several kms, the yellow and black statues meet at Nehru Putla Square before they are put on fire. People also celebrate this meeting of statues as they dance and shower flower petals on the statues. The statues at the celebrations are made by Shende family, which has been making them for three generations now. Ganpatrao Shende, after whom his son Bhimaji Shende took over, prepared the statues in 1885.
During the celebration, people gather to address various social problems. Few locals, speaking about the occasion, once told ANI, “Kali and Pivli are believed to be sisters who are made to meet each other on this day. While some believe that the festival has some historical value others consider Kali and Pivli as deities. Locals raise a famous slogan during this festival ‘Rograi gheun ja ge marbat,’ which means ‘rid us of diseases.’ A lot of people believe that the Kali and Pilvi marbat will make their wishes come true during this festival. It also related to history during the British Raj.”