Marbat – 135 year old Nagpur Festival
A 135-year-old tradition and festival specific to Nagpur happens today. Let me take you through the story of Marbat and its connection with Britishers and epidemics. The black and yellow effigies are called piwli (yellow) and kaali (black) marbat. These effigies are taken on a 10-km procession through the lanes of Itwari and East Nagpur and then burnt. It is believed that with the burning of these effigies, all negativity is burnt away. The chant that accompanies the procession – ‘Ida, pida gheun jaa ge Marbat’ (Take away social evils and human miseries).
The kaali marbat is believed to signify Bhonsla queen Bankabai who surrendered to British power. This was the way of people showing their anger against her act. The yellow marbat is believed to signify the British rule but also epidemics and disease. Every year, there are also badgyas or mascots which signify specific ills faced by society – alcoholism, increasing prices, corruption. Every year has new, current themes.
The yellow marbat is made by the Tarhane Teli community while the kaali marbat is made by shopkeepers near Nehru Putla square. At the, the marbats are set on fire – a culmination of a process that begins in May with the marbats being made of only bamboo and paper.
If you attend a marbat procession, you can witness songs and dance on this informal holiday in Nagpur. What started as a procession of dolls in 1880s to protest against the British is now a special Nagpur social festival
This Blog is authored by Sukhada Chowdhury, Her Twitter Handle is @appadappajappa