The grandest event in Bharata showcasing the birth of Hindu-pad-padshahi: Coronation of Shivaji Maharaj took place on the 6th of June, 1674. So how was this event-of-events ? Contemporary accounts paint a vivid picture. 

The preparations and ceremonies started months in advance. New palaces and rooms of state were erected, consecrated by singing of traditional hymns, burning of sacrificial fires and libations of holy water. Eleven thousand priests and one hundred thousand visitors were Raigad bound to be guests of the soon-to-be anointed Maharaja for four months. 

From Varanasi, the greatest of the Brahmins of the town Gaga Bhatta, voyaged southwards to bless the coronation ceremony. He was met by and ushered into Raigad by Shivaji and his ministers. 

First Shivaji visited the temple of the Mother Goddess at Pratapgarh and presented the temple with an umbrella of pure gold nineteen kilograms in weight. Then accompanied by few followers he entered the temple and passed many nights in vigil and prayer.

Shivaji’s mother Jijabai, then eighty years old arrived at the palace in a procession. Shivaji prostrated himself at her feet publicly and she blessed him. Next he embarked on a long penance for sins committed, consciously or unconsciously. The prayers and vigil went on for three days. Finally adjudged free from sin by the priests, Gaga Bhatta presented to Shivaji the Sacred Thread, mark of the Twice-born and in his ears also whispered invocations to the Sun God. Next Shivaji was weighed against precious metals and jewels, spices and wine, fruit and brocades, and all the same were distributed to the Brahmins. 

At the conclusion of the ceremony a jatra or pantomime was arranged to entertain the crowds. For seven days before the event, the priest burnt sacrificial fires, fasted and prayed. 

On June 6th, the rites of the coronation proper began. 

Clad in a white robe and garlanded with flowers, Shivaji entered the great hall of his palace, his queen-consort Soyra beside him, their robes knotted together in token of their union. Behind Shivaji came his mother and his son Shambhaji. Then followed his eight ministers, each carrying a gold vessel with holy water. He approached the throne covered in a canopy of gold from which pearls hung in festoons. As he slowly progressed across the hall, lotus blossoms of gold and emerald were thrown among the crowds. Shivaji mounted his throne and immediately guns in the city boomed homage, and from fort to fort along the ghats Maratha guns sounded in sync with the capital. Also from the plains every Maratha outpost took up the loud salute, so that every inch of land where Marathas held sway were aware of their ruler’s coronation. 

Next Shivaji wore over his white robe a heavy robe of purple embroidered with gold and in place of a chaplet of flowers he put on a turban hung with tassels of jewels. Next Gaga Bhatta raised over his head the Pearl-studded umbrella of imperial sovereignty and soldiers clashed their shield on spear and crowds went berserk with cheer and frenzy. At that precise moment was brought to fruition the long desired, long cherished dream of a Hindu Civilizational State, till then creaking under the yoke of centuries of depredation and servitude. 

Then descending from his throne, Shivaji Maharaj walked across the hall and mounted an elephant of the state with gold-stiched carpets and went in procession  through his capital. From every window, women showered flowers and coloured rice on him and waved lighted lamps as the banners of victorious regiments waved over the procession. 

Today the traditional site of Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation is marked by a mound and nobody approaches the same, except barefoot. 

Few days after Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation, Jijabai left her mortal coil, having lived long enough to see her son crowned Chatrapati Maharaj and as if post the coronation, her last wish also had been fulfilled. 

Thus marked the dramatic events building upto the Coronation of Shivaji Maharaj 347 years ago which reverberates across space and time till to this day ! 

Jai Bhawani !!!

Jai Jijaji !!!

Jai Shivaji !!!

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.