Story of Khandoba
Legend has it that Mani and Malla became powerful by performing intense Tapas (austerities) dedicated to Brahma. After several years Brahma gave them boons. With unimaginable power on their disposal, Mani and Malla started harassing saints, Devas (demi gods) and humans. They created havoc and disturbed the peaceful life on earth and heaven.
Manichurna Mountain the abode of several holy persons was captured by Mani and Malla. Unable to tolerate their violence, saints, humans and demigods approached Shiva.
Shiva brought out several lieutenants from his matted lock to fight Mani and Malla and went to Manichurna Mountain. He himself took the form of Bhairav, the terrible form of Shiva, and Parvati took the form of Mhalsa. In some regions, Mhalsa is believed to be an incarnation of Mohini and Parvati.
The battle began on the Amavasi day of Kartik month and ended on the sixth day Margashirsh. Mani and Malla fought hard for six days. Finally, they fell on the feet of Shiva and they were killed. This happened on the sixth day of Margashirsh and is observed as Chamba Shasti. It is believed Lord Shiva decided to stay here in the form of a Swayambhu lingam after defeating the demons.
Khandoba the Deity
Mhalsa and Banai are the two consorts of Khandoba. A horse or a bull is the Vahana or vehicle of Khandoba and dogs surround him. There is also a belief that the Bull is Nandi and he takes the form of a horse.
Khandoba is believed to be a deity, which fulfills one's wishes. He is the Kuladaivat or family deity of millions of people in Maharashtra and Karnataka in India. The cult of Khandoba does not recognize any caste and religious barriers. There are numerous names of Khandoba – Malhari, Mailar, Mairal, Martand, Malhari-Martand, Mhalasakant, Khaladeo and Elkot are the important among them.
Majority of the temples dedicated to Khandoba are located inMaharashtra and Karnataka. The most important one is the KhandobaTemple at Jejuri near Pune in Maharashtra.
The most important festival dedicated to Khandoba is observed on the sixth day of the Shukla Paksha or waxing phase of moon in Margashirsh month as per traditional Marathi calendar and is known as Champa Sashti. The festivities begin six days early. It is believed that Khandoba annihilated demons Mani and Malla on the Champa Sashti day.