Pola – The Bull Festival of Maharashtra

September 5, 2015, In: Festivals

In India, there are a number of unique and varied festivals. One of such, is the festival of bull-worshiping, known as Pola. This festival is mainly celebrated by the farmers, in the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra and also in some districts of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. This special occasion falls in Shravan month, the equivalent of Georgian August, on Pithori Amavasya, which is the new moon day. The term “Pithori”, comes from the phenomenon when the sky looks like wheat flour spread all over the sky.

On this day, farmers worship their bulls and show their appreciation for their cattle. The day starts with the farmers washing their bulls clean and decorating them with bright paint, and adorning them with fresh flower garlands and beautiful ornaments. As the sun sets, farmers along with their bulls, lead a procession in the village, which is accompanied by the people singing and dancing to the beat of drums. It is said that, the oldest bull goes out first with a wooden frame tied on its horns, which is known as Makhar. Then it is made to break a rope made up of mango leaves stretched between two poles, and the rest of the cattle follows the old bull’s lead. A number of sumptuous, mouth-watering dishes like Puran Poli, Karanji curry with five vegetables is enjoyed by the villagers on this occasion. Few cities also organise fairs which attracts a lot of people due to the fun and exciting competitions and games they offer. For the ones who don’t have a bull at their house, they worship the little wooden idols of bull and enjoy this unique festival in their own way.

One day prior to the festival, farmers remove the rope called vasan from the nostrils of their bulls. After that, a paste made up of ground nut oil and turmeric powder is gently applied on their shoulder, similar to how people are treated before an auspicious occasion. The day after the festival, the new season of farming starts as the farmers start to plough and sow the land anew. The festival marks the last day of the farming season in that region.

There’s a tale behind why the festival is called Pola. Once young Lord Krishna was sitting by a tree alone and he was attacked by a demon bull named Polasur. After confronting the wild bull, Lord Krishna killed him. That is why, children are also given special treatment on this day.

In India, as a significant part of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihood, the farmers realise and acknowledge the importance and significance of bulls in helping them cultivate the land, among other tasks, as many farmers cannot afford modern tools and instruments. So, to show their appreciation and gratitude, this day is held to celebrate the bulls and their importance.

This festival shows us how ancient Hindus respected their animals, including cattle. It teaches us to be gentle and kind to them, and makes us realise the importance of them in our lives. This festival is a perfect way to celebrate them and reward them with the care and unconditional love they deserve for helping the humans in many different ways.




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