The Rajyabhishek ceremony (coronation) of Shivaji Maharaj was performed on June 6, 1674 at Raigad. He assumed the title of a king in a formal coronation and became the first Chhatrapati of Maratha Empire.
Shivaji Maharaj had an extensive territory within his control and ruled over it as an independent sovereign. He and his ministers, therefore, felt that it was necessary that he should assume the title of king in a formal coronation so as to convince the contemporary Indian powers of right of Maratha Empire and to give legal validity to his orders to treaties.
Moreover, the leaders in Maharashtra wanted the establishment of Hindavi Swarajya and were anxious to have its fulfillment in a Hindu Chhatrapati. Hence, it was decided that a formal Rajyabhishek ceremony of Shivaji Maharaj would undergo on a grand scale.
Shivji Maharaj Rajyabhishek
Gaga Bhatt, the famous pandit of Banaras, conducted the Rajyabhishek of Shivaji Maharaj. Invitations were sent to learned Brahman of all parts of India and many came un-invited. Ambassadors and envoys from most of the Indian powers came to witness the coronation ceremony. Shivaji visited the famous temples in Maharashtra. Then Shivaji distributed fine pieces of cloth and several other things among the Brahmans.
The Rajyabhishek of Shivaji took place on June 6, 1674. Shivaji spent the entire day in self-restraint and mortification of the flesh.
On the day of the Rajyabhishek, Shivaji got up early in the morning, worshipped the gods and took blessing from the priests. Then, he took his seat on a gold-plated stool decked with ornaments. His queen sat to his left and the crown prince Sambhaji sat close behind him. The ministers of Shivaji Maharaj stood with gold jugs full of water from the sacred rivers and poured it over the heads of the King. The Rajyabhishek ceremony was accompanied with music.
Then, Brahman ladies with lamps on a gold tray waved the lights around the king’s head. Then Shivaji Maharaj changed his dress and put on a royal scarlet robe and precious ornaments. He then worshipped his weapons and bowed to his elders and Brahmans and entered the throne room which was richly decorated. He took his seat on the throne. The Brahman scholars chanted mantras and blessed Shivaji. Gaga Bhatta held the royal umbrella over the enthroned monarch’s head and hailed him as Shiva Chhatrapati. Salvos of guns were fired at the exact time from all the forts in his kingdom. Shivaji then gave away large sums of money to the Brahmans, other people and beggars.
After the Rajyabhishek ceremony, Shivaji Maharaj passed orders and received visitors. He accepted their presents and conferred upon them royal honors. Then he mounted his best horse, descended down the fort and taking his seat on elephant rode through the streets of the capital in full military procession with his ministers and generals. The procession was preceded by his royal flags borne aloft on two elephants.