Khandoba of Jejuri, The Malhari

Worship of Lord Khandoba is widespread in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. He is the divine part of Bhagwan Shiva who incarnated on earth to bring people out of the great sufferings. Lord Khandoba is the Malhari king who is passionately worshiped by the people mavlas by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. There are several stories about the miracles, legends and divine grace that Lord Khandoba bestows upon his bhakts.

The more popular and one of the first temples of Lord Khandoba was built at Jejuri in Pune, where the lord appeared in the cowherd’s dream and asked them to build his temple. Holkars of Indore worship Khandoba as their “Kul-Devata”. Lord Khnadoba is also known by the names Shri Martand and Malhari.

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As a form of Shiva Mahadeva, Khandoba is the tutelary deity of certain Kshatriya classes, the peasant class, the Dhangar community and the Brahmins. In the tribal interiors, Khandoba is also worshiped by the devotees.

The Lord’s name derives from the word “Khanda” which means sword. This is a long blade used by the gods to slay the demons.

There are various folk tales telling about the origin of Lord Khandoba and the text Malhari Mahatmya Accounts for Lord Shiva’s incarnation as Malhar.

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Khandoba came to Earth to kill the two Asurian brothers, Malla and Mani, who were torturing the common people by abusing their powers bestowed on them by Brahma Dev’s extreme penance. Devi Parvati incarnates as Mahalsa Devi in the house of a fisherman chief, and in order to marry her Lord Shiva incarnated as a Martand. Both claimed and killed Malla and Mani, ending their tyranny.

Lord Khandoba is generally depicted as a warrior on a white horse, and her mate Mahalsa Devi, seated in front of the horse, stabs the asura’s chest with a spear. While also showing a dog biting the asura’s thighs.

Temples and Festivals Attributed to Khandoba

Temple of Jejuri is one of the first and most important temples dedicated to Lord Khandoba. It is about 50 km from Pune. There are 750 steps to reach up to the temple and there Shri Khandoba is present in the form of a lingam together with Mahalsa Devi.

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There are many traditions and auspicious days dedicated to Khandoba. Like Somavati Utsav or Bhandara festival (Turmeric Festival). The newly married couple also visit the shrine to receive blessings from Lord Khandoba and Devi Mahalsa who is also the god of fertility. Turmeric is slung in and around the temple on this day and people are also covered with turmeric.

Champa Shashthi is also a six day festival celebrated in month Margashirsha during the Shukla Paksha. It is one of the most important festivals in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The type of devotion, love, and personal connection that devotees have with deities is symbolic of Sanatan Dharma and the incorporation of deity into people’s daily lives binds the culture to endure for ever-increasing periods of time.


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