Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mandher Devi

Mandher Devi temple is the Kalubai temple in Mandhradevi near Wai (Satara District, Maharashtra, India). Located on a hill 4,650 feet above sea level, the temple, some 20 km from Satara, overlooks the picturesque Purandhar fort. Devotees attribute miraculous properties to a grove around the shrine. Local lore has it that the temple is more than 400 years old and was built during Shivaji's Maratha rule. However, no definite date on the temple's construction is available.

The title of the land is in the name of Lord Mandeshwar and Kaleshwari Devi. Most of the year there is little tourist traffic here. The nearest primary health centre is six kilometres away and a major hospital is at Satara town.

The temple is popular among lower caste Hindus who undertake the annual Kalubai Jatra pilgrimage over a ten day period every January. The main event is a 24-hour-long festival on the day of the full moon that includes animal sacrifices to the goddess. The religious event usually draws between 150,000 and 200,000 Hindu devotees. The annual fair is in honour of Kaleshwari Devi, fondly called Kalubai by the faithful.

The idol of Kalubai sports two silver masks and silk finery. The masks are carried in a procession by members of the Gurav family, seen as the hereditary custodians of the shrine. Members of this family take turns to conduct rituals.

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