Shivaji was formally crowned by Gagabhatta as the Chhatrapati (emperor) of his realm at Raigad on 6 June 1674 for the first time and on September 24, 1674, for the second time. The event proved to be a milestone in Maratha history as it also marked the beginning of Hindavi Swarajya in India.
It is also significant to know that on this day, Shivaji was given the title of ‘Shakakarta’ which means ‘founder of an era’ in English and ‘Chhatrapati’ (paramount sovereign). He also took the title of Haindava Dharmodhhaarak (protector of the Hindu faith) during his coronation ceremony.
As per several opinions and accounts, Shivaji was named after Lord Shiva. However, intellectuals indicate that it was Shivai, a local deity after whom he was named.
He was a qualified commander and courageous warrior. He was extremely skilled at guerrilla-style warfare and prepared stealthy war operations. He was often referred to as the ‘mountain rat’ for his art of stealthy warfare.
Although he was a keen learner with deep knowledge of religious texts including Ramayana and Mahabharata, he didn’t have any formal schooling.
He is also known for reviving the Hindu political and courtly traditions. He promoted the usage of the Marathi and Sanskrit language in administrative processes instead of the widely used language Persian.
He set up the board of eight ministers or “Ashta Pradhan Mandal”, an administrative and advisory council that advised Shivaji on various political and administrative matters. He was the first indigenous ruler of medieval India to build his own naval force and led his first full-fledged naval expedition in 1665.
He was a secular king and had many Muslims in his army and office such as Ibrahim Khan and Daulat Khan who were distinguished in the navy and Siddi Ibrahim the chief of artillery.
He was a great advocate of woman’s rights and had passed rules that prohibited the dishonour of women. Any crime against women was severely punished. His soldiers and officers were strictly forbidden from womanising and never allowed the taking of women’s captives.
The Coronation ceremony
A throne of 32 mann(मण) of gold was made for the ceremony. Brahmins from all over the country were invited for the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. About 11,000 Brahmins and about a lakh people had assembled at Raigad.
For four months the guests were accommodated and delicious food was prepared. Brahmins, rich dignitaries in this ceremony. Representatives of other states, foreign traders and the general public were all present. Four and a half thousand kings were invited for this ceremony.
Before the coronation, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj visited various temples. 1.25 mann(मण) offered a gold umbrella to Bhavani Mata. Later, from May 21, he engaged in religious rites at Raigad.
On the day of the coronation, the coronation began by getting up early in the morning, chanting mantras and taking a bath with rituals, and remembering the deity. At this time Shivaji Maharaj was wearing white clothes. There were garlands of flowers around his neck.
The two main ceremonies at the coronation were the blessing of the king and the holding of an umbrella over the head. Shivaji Maharaj sat on a platform two feet long and two feet wide.
Shivaji Maharaj was anointed with water brought from eight major rivers. Sixteen Suvasinis(सवाष्णींनी) waved Pancharati. After this Shivaji Maharaj wore red clothes Jewellery, and ornaments worn.
Wearing a garland of flowers around his neck and the royal crown. Worshipped his shield, sword, and bow. And entered the chamber of the throne at the moment of the moment.
The hall was decorated with 32 omen signs. Shivaji Maharaj ascended the 32 mana gold throne. Sixteen Swasni(सवाष्णींनी) waved to them. The Brahmins chanted mantras aloud. ‘Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jai’ was announced. The gold and silver flowers were scattered.
The sky was filled with the cheers of various percussionists. Guns were fired from each fort as planned. Gagabhatta, the chief priest, came forward and placed a pearl necklace on the king’s head and blessed him as ‘Shivchhatrapati’.
A lot of charity work was also done on this occasion by Shivaji Maharaj
Every year the day is celebrated in Maharashtra, especially in Raigad where people organise a coronation ceremony for Shivaji at Raigad Fort. They wish each other a happy coronation day and offer wreaths to the statue of Shivaji. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, celebrations are expected to be curtailed due to the social distancing norms.