The history of Turmeric:
Turmeric (curcuma longa) has been around for the best part of 5000 years – it has been a principle healing agent in Ayurveda, and traditional Indian systems of medicine before becoming popular as a supplement.
Turmeric is typically grown in warmer regions like India, China and southeast Asia, it is reffered to many names in the world such as
The active ingredient in turmeric is “curcumin” – to break this down further curcumin is made up of curcuminoids – turmeric contains demothoxycurcumin, otherwise known as curcumin II, bisdemothooxycurcumin, otherwise known as curcumin III and cyclocurcumin. These compounds on average make up about 3-5% of turmeric. Although some regions in India, the turmeric actually contains higher levels , reaching 6-8% because of the more favourable growing conditions and farming methods.
The turmeric festival:
The Bhandara festival is the great turmeric festival of Maharashtra (Bhandara means turmeric in Marathi the local language of Maharashtra) – it is during this festival that India lives up to it’s reputation of being the land of colour and festivals by throwing the golden spice turmeric into the air.
The festival takes place on “Somvati Amavasya” a new moon day that falls on a Monday which usually occurs two or three times.
Lord Khandoba is a reknown folk diety who lived around the 9th century A.D. Khandoba is popularly worshipped across Maharashtra and Karnataka. He was believed to have possessed qualities of lord Shiva and his wives: Mhalsa and Banai – who were honoured as incarnations of goddess Parvati and Ganga.
His idol is typically depicted with four arms, in one of which he holds a Bhandara-patra or the bowl of turmeric powder.
It is believed that a newly married couple must visit the Khandoba temple to celebrate their wedlock. Some of them also visit the temple where they want to make a wish for a child as Lord Khandoba is known to be the god of fertility among believers.
In the day long celebration at the temple at Khandoba, devotees throw turmeric on each other and all around, filling the air and the skies in beautiful hues of golden mist. This is why the temple premises is called “Sonyachi Jejuri” which translated to “The Golden Jejuri”.
For the devotees at Jejuri, turmeric signifies gold. Thus by throwing turmeric around, it symbolizes the gold and riches that Lord Khandoba should bless them with.