Kolhapur, the sacred land of Goddess Ambabai celebrates a number of religious as well as other secular festivals with incomparable pomp and enthusiasm. Some of the most important festivals of the city other than the traditional Indian festivals like Holi, Diwali, Ganeshotsav, Gudi Padava, etc include, Navratra Mahotsav, Lalita Panchami, Ashtami, Kirnotsav, Rathotsav, Kolhapur Rankala Mahotsav, Jyotiba Yatra, etc.
Navratra Mahotsav celebrated in the Hindu month of Ashwin (October) is the nine days festival that commemorates the battle between Goddess Durga and the demon king Mahishasur who was eventually killed by the Goddess on the tenth day i.e. Dussera. Kolhapur is particularly crammed by the devotees arrived from every part of the state and country at the time of Navaratri. The temple of Goddess Mahalakshmi is vividly decorated with flowers and electric illuminations and the Goddess is offered special Poojas and Abhisheks at this time of the year. The idol of Ambabai is worn all the ornaments and carried out in a radiant procession in the temple complex. On the final day of Navaratri, the procession reaches the Garud Mandap and the Goddess is seated on a highly embellished pedestal. Ambabai is then honored with a canon salute. The nine days of Navaratri and the day of Dussera are full of activity with various cultural programs organized at the Mahalakshmi Temple.
Lalita Panchami Festival is celebrated on the 5th day of Navaratri. Goddess Mahalakshmi is offered the ritualistic Abhishek and a canon salute and then the Goddess is taken to the temple of Goddess Tryambuli situated nearby. The procession halts at Shahu Mill and Takala for Puja and Aarti and reaches its destination by noon. The King of Kolhapur then performs the ceremony of breaking a gourd with a sword which is called ‘Kushmandabali’. An unmarried girl (kumarika) from Patil family of Kasba Bavda is given the special honor of being present at the temple at that time. The Goddess is taken back to the main Kolhapur temple by 2:00 pm.
Ashtami Festival celebrated on the eighth day of Navaratri Festival is a remarkable event that involves the special Alankar Puja of the Goddess. The silver idol of Ambabai is placed in the Garud Mandapa and offered the canon salute. The idol is seated on a throne and is carried around the city in a procession. The Goddess is offered betel leaves, betel nuts and Oti at various places. After returning to the temple a Yagna is performed which goes on till next morning. The celebration is concluded with Purnahuti on the Navami day.
Kirnotsav is celebrated in the Mahalakshmi Temple of Kolhapur on the days when the rays (Kiran) of the sun directly fall on the idol of Mahalakshmi. On 31st January & 9th November the Sun rays fall directly on the feet of the deity. On 1st February & 10th November the Sun rays fall directly on the chest of the deity. And on 2nd February & 11th November the Sun rays fall directly on the entire body of the deity.
Rathotsav is the Chariot Festival organized at the Mahalakshmi Temple of Kolhapur in the month of April. The silver idol of the Goddess is seated in the heavily decorated chariot and taken out in a procession in the evening from 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. The procession is escorted by the police band. Huge Rangolis are drawn along the path of the procession and crackers even add to the festivity. The devotees can pay their offerings to the Goddess when the procession arrives at the main entrance of the temple. The Rathotsav is concluded with the firing of the canon.
Kolhapur Rankala Mahotsav is an annual festival celebrated at the famous Rankala Lake of the city. Organized by Kolhapur Municipal Corporation, this festival comprises various stage performances and musical concerts performed by renowned artists of the country.
Jyotiba Yatra is a fair celebrated in the honor of Lord Jyotiba at the time of Holi Festival. Organized on the hills near Panhala, this fair is attended by thousands of devotees of Lord Jyotiba who assemble here from different parts of the state to pay homage at the feet of the deity. The traditional ritual of bringing the ‘Shasan Katti’ all the way from their villages is performed at this time.