The Holy Month of Shravan And the Kavadiyas.....
The Kavadiyas are an essential part of Shravan the holy month as per the Hindu (lunar) calendar. Some images I clicked when I saw some of these Kavadiyas passing through Mhow one day in July.
According to the traditional (lunar) Hindu calendar the holy month of Shravan or Shravan Maas this year was from July 19th to Aug 16th 2008 in North India and from Aug 2 to Aug 30 in Maharashtra, Gujarat and South India..... The Mondays of this month are especially important and are known as Shravan Somwar. In the temple town of Ujjain special processions are taken out on these Mondays. And they are known as Mahakal ki Sawari.
The Malwa area of Madhya Pradesh of which Indore district forms a part as also the nearby Nimar area where the Narmada flows are totally under the sway of Siva. There are many famous Siva temples here. The two most famous being the Jyotirlinga temples at Omkareshwar and Ujjain. This is the month in which Siva is supposed to have drank the poison that was created after the gods had churned the oceans (Sagar Manthan). Every years during this month I see large groups, mostly men, of devotees clad in saffron passing through Mhow. They are mostly village folk who take time off for this important pilgrimage. They collect the water of the Narmada in small urns from the temple town of Maheshwar where Ahilya Bai Holkar the legendary queen of the Holkar kingdom had her capital. With these urns hung at the end of a pole they walk up and reach the Malwa plateau. The distance from Maheshwar to Mhow must be roughly 70 kilometres. From here they continue walking to Ujjain, another 90 kilometres, via the district headquarters town of Indore. It is a tough walk, more so as it is done bare feet. I must add that I do see many pilgrims wearing footwear. The gods are fairly liberal and I am sure that those who do it barefeet must be earning extra merit.
I happened to see a group of Kavadiyas walking through Mhow one day in late July. I stopped and clicked them as they entered Mhow walking on the AB Road (Agra Bombay Road). I also talked to some of them. They were mostly villagers from far and near. A couple of vehicles travelled with them with an elderly guru and provisions. Their faith moved me. I wonder whether I would be able to do such a long and arduous pilgrimage some day in the near future during Shravan Maas.
There is an unconfirmed theory that the town of Mhow (pronounced Mau) got its name because of the pilgrims who walk from Maheshwar to Ujjain (Ma + U = Mau = Mhow). Some people say that it is due to Maheshwar and Omkareshwar (Ma + O = Mao = Mhow).
Another theory is that Mhow is short for Military Headquarters of War/ Western India.
Some people have also suggested the name of the mahua tree as a possible source of the name Mhow.
I do not know which of these is the true reason behind the name of Mhow.Or is there yet another one?
But every little nugget of folklore adds to the charm of Mhow and the Malwa area of which it is a part....
Also posted in my Sulekha weblog; please click here.