By Rajendra Kerkar
Aaitar Poojan : a tradition of sun worship
The sun is the main source of day light and warmth for the earth. The sun is the star around which the Earth moves. The sun is regarded as divine by Hindus all over India. Since the ancient times, there prevailed the cult of Sun – worship. In the holy month of Shravan, there is a tradition the non Brahmin women and Brahmin men of worshipping the sun.
On the first day of Aaitar poojan the non Brahmin married women having husband symbolically worship the sun. For each Sunday they make use of different leaves to represent the sun god. For the first Sunday they make conical cup of betel leaf, for the second of turmeric leaf, for the third Sunday, leaf of the creeper of tuber root locally called as Konvel and for the fourth Sunday of Mussaenda belilla leaf or Shervad. In this conical cup, a variety of wild herbs, leaves, flowers which are available in the forested areas during the monsoon are put and kept on a wooden plank and are worshipped on every Sunday.
They also keep a small copper pot called Kalash with the fresh water and on the mouth of it they keep a coconut which is enveloped by five leaves of mango. The wall of place where this ritual is performed used to be coated with the cow-dung. For all Sundays of Shravan same coconut is used in the worship. In the Rangoli’s design they draw a picture of the sun.
In the past, these women were going into forest personally to collect all the materials required for the Pooja. Through, this exercise they were acquiring knowledge about the local flora and were aware about the medicinal and ecological value of these plants. The women observe the fast in morning and evening and eat only in afternoon special vegetarian meal consisting of various delicacies.
Women have been deriving livelihood needs and the philosophical inspirations from various plants for their cultural, economical and religious survival. Practices like Aaitar poojan are linked to the conservation and sustenance.
Most of the time the Shravan month contain four Sundays. But sometime if there is a fifth Sunday then women in some areas keep a small heap of rice on the wooden plank for worship. For two Sundays they make worship at their husbands place whereas for remaining two Sundays at their paternal house. In the past they sang folksongs depict their deep love and emotions for continuing this tradition. Through these folksongs they also praise the lord and pray for the long life of their spouses. After the sun-set, they immerse the symbolic sun under the Basil plant inside the Tulshi Vrindavan.
Each Sunday of Shravan has a variety of special delicacies. But there are some dishes which are prepared only on a particular Sunday. The first Sunday is marked by the preparation of ‘Patolyo’, second ‘Mutali’, third ‘Sanna’ and fourth ‘Pole’. Most of all these dishes are prepared from rice through boiling process.
In the past they were using most of locally available seasonal vegetables, which were free from any type of pesticides or chemical fertilizers and possess medicinal value.
Among the Brahmin, the married men worship symbolically the sun in the same way as non-Brahmin women, for acquiring blessings for a happy and prosperous family life. Today it is essential to emphasize the eco-theological aspect of Aaitar Poojan for nurturing environmental values in the society.
Anant Chaturdashi- A Unique Festival
Shri Anant is one of the popular forms of Lord Vishnu, who is associated with the ocean. It is also one of the names of snake god. Nagpanchami which is celebrated in the Shravan and Anant Chaturdashi that is celebrated on the 14th day of Bhadrapad are the two festivals related with the cobra worship. The Nag Panchami is observed on a large scale whereas very few Brahmin families have the tradition of Anant Chaturdashi.
In the past, the devotees were taking holy bath in the river and afterward they were worshipping Shri Anant, Sheshnag and the river Yamuna collectively. In Goa, the Brahmin families residing inside the kulagar (a grove of various cultivated plants and trees) mostly worship Shree Anant on the day of Anant chaturdashi for the period of 14 years.
At the sanctum sanctorum of the house a picture of Lord Vishnu sitting on the coiled cobra inside the ocean is kept. In front of it a seven-hooded cobra specially made from the grasses is placed. This cobra is made every year by an aged Muslim from Sanquelim which is worshipped with different coloured flowers and garlands. A silken thread with 14 knots is offered to the deity. A special delicious vegetarian food is prepared to mark the occasion. In the evening special prayers called the Ghumat Arati are presented. It is the day of celebration in their house in which all members come together and happily derive the pleasure of the festival.
It is also celebrated at the historic house of the Mhamai Kamat family the ‘Casa dos Mhamais’ with some 23 rooms and two internal courtyards of Panaji near the Old secretariat has the rich history of more than three hundred years. It is on this day the right sided conch, a rare specimen of its kind is worshipped. According to the tradition the new born male children were dying. The oracle revealed that a servant by mistake burnt a cobra and this was causing harm to the family. To appease Sheshnag, the lord of snakes the Mhamai Kamat family started celebrating Anant Chaturdashi. This festival is popular as ‘Kongyachem fest’. Nobody in the family is aware as to when the family started celebrating this festival. But as per one record it is revealed that the sacred conch was purchased way back in 1864 by our family and since then it is in our possession.
The uniqueness of this festival is that it is attended by large numbers of people from Panaji not only the Hindus but also Christians and Muslims to get a glimpse of this exquisite Conchological heritage.
Baras links with Goa’s agricultural heritage
There are many festivals and rituals which are performed by the local Hindu and Christians population of Goa. These belongs to the hoary past of land and throw light on the fact that agriculture was the backbone of Goa’s economy.
The Chavath or Ganesh Chaturthi is the festival celebrated by the Hindu across Gos for expressing gratitude to the agricultural deity lord Ganesh. On the ninth day of Chavath, villages of Surla, Naveli, Kudne, Amona celebrate a festival locally known as Baras.
In Naveli, 5km from Sankhali town, villagers assemble at the ancestral house of Gawas community situated at Choukir to the celebrate ritualistic festival of Baras. A bamboo basket with one small opening enveloped with the leaves of Karmal (Dillenia Pentagyna) is decorated with a variety of flowers. It is known as the Baras.
After the performance of puja a married woman and a man fill the basket with different types of food items including five different traditional vegetables, pancakes of parboiled rice, a dish called Pithi made from horse-gram and cooked rice.
They also make effigies of kneaded rice flour of tortoise, crocodile and a pair of Oxen with the farmer holding a plough and put them into the Baras.
A local Ghadi associated with religious rituals invokes the deities Sateri and Ravalnath, for the blessing of prosperous agriculture during the ensuring season and for the happiness of all the members of the community. On the beats of drum holding the Baras on head followed by a procession of the villagers withS proceed to the agricultural field known as Patin.
The procession goes to a place near a sluice gate which stops the entry of saline water in the paddy field and members of the Ghadi community their partake of the food items kept inside the Baras. All the members participating in the ritual return home without a backward glance.
Bicholim celebrated ‘Navo Somar’
Bicholim a municipal town has Shantadurga as the presiding deity. In honour of this deity residences of the town have celebrated festival of ‘Navo Somar’ with a variety of religious, cultural, educative and entertainment programmes.
Navo Somar means the festival of New Monday. Shantadurga who is one of the popular forms of goddess Parvati, the consort of lord Shiva is worshipped in Bicholim in the form of ant – hill through various religious rituals.
Even earlier on the right bank of Bicholim river inside the dense jungle, Shantadurga has been worshipped since hoary past in the form of ant – hill by the sons of soil, toiling hard in the agricultural fields. The present temple was built in 1908 and was renovated on several occasions.
The tradition of celebrating Navo Somar is very old. On the Monday of Margshirsh, the ninth month of the Hindu calendar, the idol use for the festive occasion is adorned and is taken out for procession in an Palkhi where she is welcomed whole heartedly by the women holding the lighted lamps and offering flowers. This moment is observed with grand celebrations.
The Chaturmas is the period of four months from Shravan to Kartik which is believed to be the period of rest for gods and hence processions of Shantadurga through the Palkhi is not conducted during this period.
Earlier, the entire Hindu populace of the town was involved in the celebrations irrespective of their caste or tribe differences. But now – a – days the festival of Navo Somar is celebrated independently by the Gaonkar community and the Bhaili Peth Bazarkar Committee.
Exhibition, special Bhajan Programmes, Dindi and various other cultural events are organised out through the town by devotees belonging to different wards. It is the most auspicious occasion where the residents of Bicholim scattered at various places flock to the temple of Shantadurga.
Brahmotsav at Brahma-Carambolim
Brahma – Carambolim, a village of Sattari lies at a distance of about 7 kms to the north of Valpoi celebrates Brahmotsav, the annual fair associated with the god Brahma, who is looked upon as the progenitor of the universe.
Brahma – Carambolim, a sparsely populated area with terraced irrigated paddy – fields backed by groves of betel nut trees with the green hills rising beyond was formerly known as Chandiwade since the land was forested with Chanduvado trees (Macaranga peltala). When the idol of Brahma was brought into the village from Carambolim of Tiswadi taluka, its name was changed from Chandiwade to Brahma – Carambolim.
Coming of Brahmadeva into the village have heralded a new era and inspired folklorists to compose melodious folk songs called ‘Lavanis’ which are sung during the Shigmo festival. There are some historians who are of the view that the idol of Brahma was brought to Sattari when Govapuri (Goa Velha) the ancient capital city of Goa was attacked by Malik Kafur and surrounding Hindu temples were burnt during the 14th century. However, Lopes Mendis in ‘A Indian Portuguese – vol. II mentions, “This image was taken in 1541 from Carambolim to Sattari to escape destruction by the Portuguese.”
The temple of Brahma which faces the east is situated on a small hillock. A perennial stream originating at a place called Bibtyan with the myristica swamp forest flows down and adds beauty to the temple complex. Water of this stream provides necessary boost up to the agricultural heritage of the land.
The idol of Brahma is one of the best specimens of Goa’s Kadamba architecture and is carved from a single slab of rock basalt. The idol is in standing posture and has four heads gazing in North, East, West and South directions symbolizing Brahma, the all – knowing. It is subtly distinguished from its background by the fineness and delicacy of the carving of the headdress, earnings, arm bands, sacred thread and girdle.
The idol has a beard on the central face and four hands holding chanting beads, sacrificial ladle, ghee pot, Vedic book with fourth hand is in the blessing pose. The consorts of Brahma Savitri and Saraswati are shown standing on either side of the deity. Various niches carved on the idol depict Ganapati, Shiva and Vishnu.
This 1.5 meters high idol is a marvelous piece of sculpture. This being the only independent Brahmadev temple in Goa it is the main centre of attraction during the festival of Brahmotsav. A variety entertainment programmes including dramas, devotional songs consorts, recitation of the Vedic hymns are organized during the two days of festivities.
Buddha Pournima : a full moon night of enlightenment
Vaishakh is the second month of the Lunar calendar and full moon day of Vaishakha is celebrated as the Vaishakh Pournima in various parts of India. This day is also known as Buddha Pournima and it has the special significance for the Buddhist community spread all over the world. On this very day the Buddha was born, he attained supreme knowledge as also Nirvana when he breathed his last at Kusinagar. Since these three important incidents associated with the life of Gautam Buddha had occurred on the day of Buddha Pournima, this day is considered most sacred in the Buddhist calendar.
Queen Mahamaya, the wife of Suddhodhana, the ruler of the Sakya clan gave birth to Siddhartha under the shade of two Sal trees at Lumbini in 544 B.C. on the full moon day of Vaishakh. A week later Mahamaya died and a child was nursed by his step mother Gautami and hence he was also known as Gautam.
Siddharth could not find the peace of mind even after his marriage with Yashodhara and the birth of their son Rahul. Hence, he discarded all the material pleasures and went to seek the light of knowledge.
In Gaya at the edge of the river Niranjana under a Peepal tree he received the enlightenment and became known as the Buddha. He secured the four noble truths of the life on his 35th birthday, and taught them to his five disciples at Sarnath near Varanasi and formed the Sangha or community.
On the day of Buddha Pournima, the Buddhists have bath. Wear white robes and pay a visit to the nearest Vihar for listening to discourses on the life and teachings of the Buddha. The five principles or the Panch Sheel which includes – not to take life, not to steal, not to lie, not to take intoxicants and not to commit adultery are mainly emphasized on this occasion.
The Buddha tried to convince people through reason and persuasion rather than through displays of supernatural power. He regarded the social world as the creation of the humans rather than of divine origin. He emphasized individual agency and righteous action as the means to escape from the cycle of rebirth, attain self – realization and by extinguishing ego and desire to end the cycle of suffering.
Buddha also taught people to find peace and contentment in life by getting rid of selfish desires. He preached the massage of unity, harmony and peace which helped the World to find a new path of hope and deliverance.
In Goa the community traditionally harassed by the scourge of untouchability and other social evils embraced the Buddhism. By embracing Buddhism had given new hope and dimension to the life of large number of down – trodden people. The Buddhists in Goa aslo benefitted from this revolutionary step.
During the pre – Portuguese period, the Buddhism was prevelant in Goa. The bronze head of Buddha found in the house of the Mhamai Kamat of Panaji might have been brought to Goa during the Bhoja period by same Buddhist merchant.
The copper plate of Konkan Maurya ruler Chandravarman C. 500 A.D. mentions the grant of land to the Buddhist Mahavihara of Shivapura which has been identified as a locality in Shiroda in Ponda taluka in South Goa.
In Rivona near Sanguem, a Buddha stone sculpture with two pedestals has been discovered belonging to C. 700 A.D. In 1930,Fr. Henry Heras had discovered the stone sculpture of Buddha at Mushirvada in Colval which belongs to C. 950 A.D. There is a possibility that Buddhist monasteries existed in Colval, Lamgao and Rivona.
Celebration of Dahi handi
Many places in Goa mirthfully celebrate Dahi handi by breaking the clay pot filled with curds tied at greate height as a token of expressing utmost gratitude to the beloved god Balkrishna (Child Krishna)
As a child Krishna was naughty and he along with his teammates in Gokul used to steal the butter or curd stored safely in the house by tying it up at the height to the rope.
Coming of Balkrishna brought happiness in the life of all children in Gokul who was playing a variety of games with them and afterward relishing the curds and butter so stolen.
On the eighth day in the dark fortnight of the fifth month Shravan, Balkrishna is believed to have born and this day is celebrated as Janmashtami by fasting and reciting prayers and devotional songs in praise of Balkrishna.
The next day of Janmashtami is much awaited by the children and youth alike as it is the time which provide them forum to express fun fare as they celebrate Gopal Kala. “Kala” actually mean eating food by mixing different dishes which was first done among the cow herds by forgetting caste and creed in Gokul when Balkrishna took the cattle for the grazing along with them. On the day of Gopal Kala a clay pot filled with butter or curd is tied up at great height. Youths have to climb up to reach it by erecting a pyramid structure of their friends. Eventually a youth successful in reaching the top then breaks the Dahi Handi with a stick and all his teammates enjoy the taste of butter.
When a youth finally reaches the top to break the butter pot all those who have gather loudly chant “Govinda Ala Re Ala” for boosting the morale of that youth.
As soon as the youth achieve success in breaking the butter pot, all savour the moment happily.mA lot of courage,patience,concentration and teamwork are required for breaking the Dahi Handi. This colourful game imparts the spirit of unity and cohesion and urges all to work collectively for achieving their cherished goal.
Not only the temples of Shrikrishna but other temples too, celebrate breaking the Dahi Handi during the Janmashtami festival.
Celebration of Nave in Mayem, Vaingini and Bicholim
Goa is the agricultural state and it is a tradition to seek blessing of the newly ripen paddy by performing pooja before reaping it. This clearly indicates Goa’s agrarian traditions.
Villagers from Mayem, Bicholim-Gaonkarwada and Vaingini collectively celebrated the festival of ‘Nave’. They assemble at a sacred tank of Mayem Village, locally known as Narayandevache tolle and ceremoniously reap the panicles of paddy which are then kept in front of goddess Mahamaya in the temple of Mayem. Afterwards the villagers take these panicles to their houses and keep it in front of house deity.
By making use of rice husked out from the new paddy, villagers prepare a sweet dish called Khichadi by cooking grated coconut, jaggery together, which is then served as ‘Prasad’ among all the members of family.
Every year during the day after Ganesh Chaturthi i.e. on the fifth day of Bhadrapad month of the Hindu calender villagers celebrates the Nave. Particularly, the farming communities observe the festival of Nave. The head of the family accompanied by other men folk visits the paddy field and offer betel nuts, betel leaf and a coin and then cuts the new year of grain which are placed on wooden plank near the idol of Ganapati and then tied on the frame of the door. Tying up of panicles of paddy indicate sanctity and ensures overflowing granaries in the house Among the Goan Christians, the festival of Nave is celebrated as ‘Konsache Fest’.
Datta Jayanti : the anniversary of trinity gods
The full moon day of Margashirsh the ninth month of Hindu calendar is celebrated as Datta Jayanti which is the birth anniversary of the divine trinity of Dattatraya, the three – headed deity representing Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the protector and Mahesh, the destroyer.
According to the mythological story, Dattatraya is the son of well known sage Atri and his dedicated wife Anasuya. Atri was the author of many vedic hymns, especially those praising Agni, Indra, the Ashvins and the Vishwadevas. Anasuya’s devotion transformed Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva who came to test her chastity by asking for alms were turned into a child who symbolized the three – headed deity called Dattatraya.
On every full moon day, the Palkhi with the divine idol meant for worshipping on festive occasion is taken out with procession around the temple complex. In the past, the Devdasi women would sing devotional songs known as ‘Pene’. Today, the men – folk sing these songs to the beats of folk musical instruments.
Dattatraya temple of Sanquelim was founded on the 5th April 1882 and is one of the most popular of its kind in and around Goa. It is on the banks of Valvanta river and is built on fairly traditional lines, with a dome. There is a belief among devotees that people of unsound mind are cured of their malady at this venue.
Datta Jayanti festival of Sanquelim is celebrated for the two days. On the first day a symbolic idol of Dattatraya is put into a well – decorated cradle and melodious lullabies are sung by devotees. The special programmes of Bhajans and Kirtans praising noble deeds of the deity are organized.
The evening of the second day is marked by the performance of a folk drama known as Lalit. It is a fine blend of Marathi and Konkani which combines humour, divinity and wisdom together. Dance, drama, singing, presentation of Lalit, reflects a well – worn socio – cultural tradition. In the concluding part of Lalit magical tricks are also presented. It is a sort of entertainment combined with education and information and is performed at Dattawadi since many decades throwing light on spiritual aspects as well as cuisine.
Neturli village of Sanguem also has a very old Dattatraya temple which was carved earlier inside a laterite cave on the left side of Netravali river. This temple is also known for Datta Jayanti celebration. A folk performance of saint Tukaram is the uniqueness of this festival.
Dattawadi – Mapusa, Pajwada-Bicholim, Marcela, Bori, Kavale, Davorli-Margao, Orule-Vasco, Baherilwada-Keri, Savarde, Kunne – Raia and other places have temples of Dattatraya, which also annually celebrate the festival of Datta Jayanti with variety of cultural and religious functions.
Dhalo : feministic reflection of ecological knowledge
The Paush, the tenth month of Hindu calendar, has much significance in the life of Goan Hindu women as it provides them a forum to express their hidden artistic talents and extra – ordinary love they possess for ecology.
The non – Brahmin women who other wise throughout the year are involved in toiling hard in the soil usually take part in Dhalo. By celebrating the Dhalo, they actually express their humble gratitude for Mother Earth who supports their livelihood and fulfills their basic need of food.
Subhadra Arjun Gawas, a well known folklorist from Ghoteli No. 2 of Keri – Sattari says, “We take part in Dhalo without fail as it is the only way through which we can salute the Mother Earth for blessing us with children and prosperity.”
Santeri who is worshipped in the form of ant – hill is the symbolic representation of the mother earth. The earth possess the ability of procreation so also the women and hence they worship the ant – hill as well as the Tulshi Vridavan, a pedestal with the basil plant so that their procreative power will be blessed and enriched.
The scheduled tribe communities like Velip, Gawda have the tradition of celebrating Dhalo. The Velip earlier mainly dwelled inside the forest and their life was the best example of sustainable livelihood. In the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary at Verle the Velip women use to celebrate Dhillo inside a densely forested sacred grove known as Bhui Pann.
The Dhillo and the Dhalo are the eco – Feministic festivals having the uniform objectives. In Sanguem, Quepem, Canacona there are many tribal hamlets which observe the Dhalo with a lot of ritualism, fun and frolic.
The Bhandari, Kharvi and many peasant communities take part in the Dhalo in a jubilant mood.
The tradition of Dhalo in many villages is on wane. However, it received the necessary impetus when Governmental bodies like the Directorate of Art and Culture and Kala Academy Goa along with some other NGOS began to encourage it through organization of festivals and competitions.
It is the annual festival where in women get opportunity to express their artistic talent. The tradition as it is mandatory through religious taboos to take part in the Dhalo.
For the five or seven days, the women assemble in the late evening in front of the shrine of Rashtroli or other folk deities. They light the lamp and invoke the deity as well as Tulshi Vrindavan for blessing. Standing in two rows and facing each other they dance to the tune of melodious folk songs.
These folk songs reflect the traditional ecological knowledge about flora and fauna found in the area. Though some songs seem to be monotonous due to repetition and refrain their tunes are indeed very melodious.
Among the Christian Kunbi there is a unique tradition of Dhalo still maintained. Amelia Dias from Kothambi – Quepem says, “We are presenting the Dhalo since many generations to the tune of folk songs and on the beats of drum called Ghumat played by the men folk”.
While it is customary for the (Goan) Hindu not to hold marriages during the whole Paush month, the women folk get themselves busy with the celebration of the Dhalo through songs, dances and a variety of traditional games on the sacred village platform called ‘Mand’.
Goa’s Christmas- a message of communal harmony
The 25th of December, the birthday of Jesus Christ is celebrated as Christmas by the Christians of Goa but the Hindus too rejoice on this day.
On Christmas eve Church bells ring and Christmas carols are sung. A decorated Christmas tree is arranged in every Christian home. Santa clause is believed to visit homes and leave presents for children.
The bitter memories of forceful mass conversion of the Hindus to Christianity by the missionary during the Portuguese regime did not deter the true spirit of communal harmony in Goa. As such, the Hindus happily take part in the celebration of Christmas.
In Goan folk dramas like Jagor of Shivoli, there are many folksongs sung by the Hindus to praise the lord Jesus and also in the Lalit folk dramas organized on the second day of Datta Jayanti at Sanquelim, there is a devotional song referring to Jesus.
Vazari, a small hamlet near Sanquelim has the Christians as well as Hindus population. Both the religious communities are living in harmony for the centuries.
Merces, a village of Tiswadi is dominated by the Christian population and has the significant members of Hindu houses.
On the way to Bicholim via Sanquelim, there is a Holy Cross, at Kulan-Karapur which enjoys respect from the Christians and Hindus of the surrounding areas. This cross bears a plaque with the Sanskrit prayer which urges, “O Lord! Take me away from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, from death to life.”
Along with the Christians, the Hindus, too light the candles and offer prayers here on the Christmas and other occasions. This cross is a unique example of the communal harmony existing between the Hindus and the Christians for a long period.
The Christmas celebration is marked by a lot of joy and excitement. Lord Jesus, the son of God, symbolizes unconditional, universal love and hence the Hindus adhering their religious principles happily take part in offering prayers in the church and also in greeting warmly the Christians in their neighborhood.
Christmas promotes communal harmony in Goa
Jesus is considered as the son of God that came to earth to guide human beings and show them how to live the life of truth by maintaining the humanity.
Though, the majority of population in Goa is the Hindus then followed by the Christians, from last so many years Goa has exhibited the finest bond of communal harmony baring few occasions.
For Goan Christians the Christmas is one of the important occasions of merriment and excitement. Forgetting religious differences, every one participate in the Christmas whole heartedly.
Jesus Christ in his teachings put emphasis on the humanitarian ideas and ideals rather than superstitions and following complex and complicated rituals.
Vazari, a small hamlet of Sanquelim town has a large number of Christian’s houses, surrounded by the Hindu population. Both these communities respect ethos and values of each other.
Calangute which is known as tourist destination has the tradition Hindu-Christian harmony.
Hanuman Jayanti
Hinduism has many zoomorphic deities; Hanuman is one of the popular deities who is worshipped largely in various parts of India. He is considered to be the embodiment of strength adventure, virility and obedience. The 15th day of the first fortnight of the month Chaitra is celebrated as the Hanuman Jayanti or the Brith Anniversary of Hanuman.
He is believed to be the son of Vayu or Wind and of Anjani. The great epic Ramayana mentions Hanuman as the monkey leader who rendered most valuable service to Lord Rama, by discovering Sita’s abode in Lanka. It was he who set fire to Ravan’s Kingdom in Lanka and caused fear to enter the hearts of the Rakashasas (demons) dwelling there.
During the forceful battle, when Rama and Laxman were wounded, he is said to have rushed and brought the medicinal herbs along with Dronagiri hill, where they grew.
As the Leader of the monkeys he had done noble service and hence living monkeys are regarded by same as his representatives. Many temples swarm with them and it is considered a meritorious act to feed them and a sacrilegious act to injure or cause any harm to them.
In Goa, there are many temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman. He is considered as powerful, infinite and immortal without death. His shrines are generally established on border of two villages or on the top of the hill to rid off the evil spirits that are supported to dwell on the borders.
In Maharashtra, Saint Ramdas popularized the cult of Hanuman worship by urging people to worship Hanuman by acquiring sound physique and sound mind through rigorous exercise and sporting events.
The banner of the Goa Kadamba ruler bore an image of Hanuman. The temple of Brahmani from Taide near Tambdi Surla has a base of basalt stone, decorated with folk reliefs including five-headed Hanuman. This temple is an example of a genuine folk style.
Hillocks at Savarde, Mapusa, and Panaji have temples of Hanuman who is also known as Maruti and hence these hillocks are popularly known as Marutigad – fort of Maruti.
Navynachi Parab or Harvest Feast of Poiguinim and Loliye
The days of Navratri celebrations are related to the harvest season and agricultural heritage. Poiguinim and Loliye of Canacona being agriculturally rich villages, traditionally they offer their first yield of paddy to the village deity as an expression of their feelings of utmost gratitude.
In Galjibag in Canacona talukas, there is an agricultural field locally known as Devachem Shet which is cultivated traditionally by the members of community related to the temple. On the third bright day of the Ashwin month, members of village community pay visit to the paddy field and offer an elaborate pooja. They descends into the field bare – footed to seek blessings for the new crop, lights incense sticks, makes offering of betel nut, betel leaf and then reap the harvest of the new ears of corn which are then ceremonially taken to the temple.
These panicles of paddy are first offered to the deity Parashuram and then to other gods such as Betal, Narayan, Navdurga. In the temple of Navdurga, the panicles of paddy are tied to the Tarangas, insignias of deities to be taken into procession on the occasion of Dussera along with the peacock feather. All the villagers especially come to the temple to take the ‘Novem’ (new corn) which is taken home and placed in front of the deities in the house.
Unless and until, these panicles of paddy are offered to the respective deities, the food grains obtained are not used for the daily consumption. Only after this ritual, various sweet dishes are prepared to mark the occasion of Navyachi Parab or the feast of new harvest. In Loliye too this feast is celebrated on the same day. All the villagers assemble at the temple of Keshav to take the panicles of paddy. The harvest feast which is celebrated in Poiguinim and Loliye mark the end of monsoon and indicate that the harvest is ready for reaping and daily consumption.
Jagor-A traditional folkdrama of Gawda
The Gawdas are among the first setters of Goa who are now included in the scheduled tribe communities. The Gawdas had the rich folk culture but many of the folk art forms have already become the extinct. However, there are some folk forms which are still being followed by them, indicate their roots in the hoary past.
Ranmale, Jagor, Kalo are the folk dramas of Goa. Jagor is a form of traditional folk drama which is performed annually to get the blessings of the folk deity on the whole community. If the folk drama is not performed as per the tradition, the tribals believe that they will have to face the wrath of Goa. To avoid it, they perform the Jagor with out fail.
Earlier, the Gawda community had a simple culture with no system of reading and writing of their own. The Jagor has gained currency among unlettered folk, who naturally never worry about author or composer of the drama.
The folk drama like Jagor derives its integrity and survival values from its direct response to and participation in group experience, and the fusion of the individual and common sense.
Nauxi, a small hamlet of Curca Village Panchayat near Bambolim has the settlement of Gawda community. Though Nauxi is very near to the urban centers, the Gawda residing here have maintained their linkages with folklore.
Nauxi is blessed by a spring and a lake. On the day of Jagor, the Zalmi lights the ghee lamp at the lake and the water of this lake is then brought and kept inside sanctum sanctorum of the Zalmi’s house.
After invoking the god, all folk artists and villagers come to the village Mand at around 10 p.m., which is a sacred community place and recite prayers and urge the folk deity and other gods to bestow their blessings for a successful presentation of the folk drama.
The performance of Jagor begins with the recitation of devotional songs like ‘Naman’ in which the folk artists invoke different gods and goddesses. It is followed by the appearance of well – dressed folk artists and coming on the stage to the tune of folk music.
Nikhandar is the person involved in guarding village that appear by holding two naked swords and standing on the bamboo tied to legs. Parpati is the role of officer who collects village revenue. He appear with, holding sword in one hand and handkerchief in another. Thoto is an artist performing the role of lame person who ties a bamboo to one leg and dances balancing his body.
Garasher or Turmati make the audience laugh by cracking jokes and making fun of girls. The male artists perform the role of the women in Jagor.
In a Jagor performance, there is no fixed story based in mythology but the experiences of the day – to – day happenings shared in the most interesting manner.
The Jagor which starts at 10 p.m. continue for about ten hours. In the past when there where no modern means of entertainment available to the people folk dramas like Jagor used to entertain the villagers. Jagor deals with traditional village life aspects. It is generally considered as the precursor of the modern theatre in Goa.
Interestingly, the Jagor performances have maintained the spirit of communal harmony. In the past, along with the Hindus, the members of the Christian community also take part in dancing, singing of this drama.
In Nauxi, there is a holy cross. One day before the Jagor in evening, the Hindu Gawda villagers along with their Christian brothers go to the holy cross and offer prayer by lighting candles.
If the wishes of the devotees are fulfilled, they take part in Jagor. Thus, Jagor is not only a form of entertainment but is also associated with religious life of the community.
During the Portuguese rule many Gawdas were converted to Christianity. However around 1928 Masurkar Swami gave them re – entry into the Hindu fold. These Nav-Hindu Gawdas even after reconversion express their gratitude to Jesus Christ through folk songs of the Jagor.
The Gawda community scattered in Veling – Ghothan, Shirdon, Curti, Chimbel are busy during April-May in making the annual presentation of Jagor on the mand.
Jayanchi Pooja of Mardol
The Bhadrapad Vadya Dvitiya the second day after full moon of Bhadrapad, a day is associated with the Jayanchi Pooja of Mardol. There are two hamlets known as Mardol in Goa one is at Verna of Salcete and other is at Priol of Phonda. Both these hamlets are known for the temple of Mhalasa and also for Jayanchi Pooja. At Mahalsa temple of Verna, Jayanchi Pooja was held in the month of Shravan on the second day of Gokulashtami.
The ancient temple of Mhalasa was situated at Mardol in Verna of Salcete. This temple was beautifuland like a fortress according to the archeological evidences available today. It was one of the biggest temples in Salcete and besides the holy tank; it had seven big wells of water which are now completely went in to oblivion. However it was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1567 A.D. and the new temple was established in the serene surroundings of Priol.
The goddess Mhalsa was a much feared and venerated deity and so, when the custom of decisive oaths was prevalent in Goa, the oath taken under the bell of her temple was established as valid by several laws, such as the Carta Regia to the Municipality of Ilhas, dated 26th march 1532.
The area where the new temple is built is in lush green surroundings. The home grown plantations of areca nut, coconut, jackfruit, mango, pineapple, bread fruit, spice plants known as the Kulagars, are near the temple and so the area is rich in perennial sources of water.
The temple of Mahalsa is famous for the festival of Jayanchi Pooja which is known to be a unique feature. Although a Satyanarayan Pooja is organized exclusively by the flower vendors of Priol on this occasion, the devotees from various corners of Goa, flock to Mardol on this occasion.
Many temples which became victim to the religious persecution of the Portuguese were established safely in Priol areas. As flowers are essential everyday for worshipping gods and goddesses, a community known as the Fulkar Naik Samaj has flourished in the area which is engaged mainly in the work of growing flowering trees and making garlands. They have earned their livelihood by selling the flowers. This community has raised big gardens in many parts of Priol of Jayo (Jasminum auriculatum).
As per the local legend, the village of Priol was hit by a dreadful famine and the terrified villagers decided to perform Satyanarayan Pooja in the temple of Mhalsa by decorating Mhalsa, Sateri, Laxmi, Narayan and all the affiliated deities with the flowers of Jayo. It is said that the danger of famine was eliminated totally immediately after the invocation to the goddess Mhalsa. Most of the flower Vendors, sitting in the temple of Shri Krishna make preparation of the Pooja.
On the day of Pooja, not a single flower vendor will sell a garland or flower of Jayo to any customer, but will utilize these flowers and garlands totally to decorate the various deities of the Mahalasa temple. An artistic use of pseudo-stem of the banana plant is made to decorate the Makhar divine arch of Pooja. Every year, an artistically made mount of either lion, goose, cobra or a peacock is made for the deity. Programs of Aarati, Bhajan and other devotional songs are organized. Flowers are the symbol of love and gratitude, which are used traditionally by Goans to express their feeling of devotion to the deities.
Mahashivratri : associate with Shiva worship
Mahashivratri is one of the most popular festivals celebrated all over India. As there are many Shiva temples and shrines in Goa, it is observed with a lot of devotion.
Among the Hindu triad of deities, Shiva is believed to be the destroyer or re-creator. He is believed to protect his devotees, on whom he is said to always bestow safety and happiness. He is considered by folklorists and scholars as a non -Aryan deity that has origin in the tribal society.
In Goa Mangesh, Nagesh, Chandreshwar, Saptkoteshver, Ramnath, Mahadev, Rudreshwar are the various epithets used for Shiva. Mangesh from Kushasthali of Salcete was reconsacrated in Priol in Phonda taluka. Similarly Bandivade of Phonda taluka is known for the temple of Lord Nagesh.
The twin shrines of the Chandrashvar and Bhutnath are located on the hillock of the Chandranath (or Parvat) near Quepem. The earliest reference of the ‘Parvat’ is found in the copper plate of Bhoja ruler Prithvimallavarman.
One of the ancient shrines of Shiva is Saptkoteshvar of Narve. It has the history of more then one thousand years as testified by the coins and inscriptions of the Kadamba rulers of Goa. Originally, the temple of Saptkoteshwar was situated on the island of Diwar (Dipavati) which was destroyed first by the Bahamani rulers and then by the Portuguese. The devotee’s reconsecrated Saptkoteshwar at Narve in Bicholim taluka. Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire, reconstructed the temple in 1668.
The temple of Malkazan from Gaodongori is widely popular among the Velip tribals. Shristhal near Canacona also has a temple of Mallikarjuna that was reconstructed in 1778 A.D. Harvale near Sanqualim has a temple of Rudreshwar. Near this temple there are the celebrated caves of Harvale which bear the inscription on a Shivaling in Brahmi characters of possibly the seventh century A.D.
Intrestingly, Vadawal hamlet of Latambarce in Bicholim has the sacred grove called Siddhachi Rai which has the biggest Shivalinga of Goa. It has no temple structure but only has the lush green trees around it. Likewise, inside a water tank at Khadki in Sattari there are twin – Shivlingas on a yonipitha. A sacred grove of Bhuipann in a remote village of Verle in Sanguem too has a roofless shrine of Saptalingeshwar with seven lingas. Vathadev near Bicholim also has a well carved laterite Shivlinga inside the river.
Every year the Rudreshwar temple of Harvale attracts a large crowd on the Mahashivratri day, as the devotees of Shiva belonging to all castes and communities are allowed to perform abhishek inside the garbhagriha (Sanctum sanctuary) of the temple. This festival has more importance among the folk artists of Goa.
Notably the training pertaining to the singing of traditional folksongs and presentation of folk dances for the Shigmo or the Holi festival which exhibits a variety of Goan folkdances starts by invoking the lord Shiva who is worshipped as the Natraj, on the day of Mahashivratri.
Shiva is also known as Girish or the lord of hills and many of the temples dedicated to him are situated on the hill tops. Shiva loves the green jungles. As such an offering of 108 lotus flowers and leaves of bel (Aegle marmelos) is specially done on the occasion of Mahashivratri.
Mangalagauri – a festival of fun and frolic for Brahmin women
In Goa, the festival of Mangalagauri is observed by the non – saraswat Brahmin women. It is the time of fun and frolic for the Brahmin women who are otherwise busy throughout the year with the routine domestic work. They celebrate the Mangalagaur on all Tuesday of Shravan month in the honour of Parvati; the consort of Lord Shiva who is popular also as Gauri. The newly married Brahmin women perform this festival for the first five years. “In the past, they were observing it for sixteen years. But nowadays, the time constrain and changing lifestyles and values compulsed them to celebrate it for five years”‘ said Santosh Siddheye, a priest from Vazri-Dodamarg. There is a mythological story which is narrated on the festival day in the evening, which explain how Sushila successfully made her dead husband alive through the blessings of Lord Yamraj god of death. Today this festival is celebrated for seeking cheerful and long healthy life and prosperity for the husband.
In this festival number sixteen has importance, as the women observing the fast for the Mangalagaur brings together sixteen types of leaves, sixteen types of different grains, sixteen bangles, sixteen types of flowers, sixteen types of ornaments made from the soaked flour of the rice for performing the Pooja.
Women get up early in morning and after taking bath, keep a wooden plank, around which the Rangoli is put. Top most part of feather like leaves of coconut with a stout spadix is cut. By making use of these leaves two compartments are made; one for Lord Ganesh and other for his mother Gauri. It is also decorated with the pseudo-stems of banana plants with its leaves. Then flowers, beads, bangles, leaves all are offered to the deities. The women make sixteen lamps from soaked flour and light them by putting cotton wicks. This is followed by the Aarti in which devotional songs praising Gauri are sung by the devotees.
Women observe a day long fast and have a special dinner in the evening in which a variety of vegetarian dishes are prepared. In the past, all required wild flowers, leaves, fruits, for the Pooja were obtained from the forest. But today, since forest are depleted, it is not easy to get the required things. Most of these things are available for sale. Through this festival people were aware of a variety of wild plants and their medicinal as well as cultural use. In the past, married Brahmin women whose husbands were alive participated in the Mangalagaur throughout the night and performed various folk games and folk dances like fugdi by singing folksongs depicting their socio-culture life.
Nowadays, some of the traditional folk games, folksongs have gone into oblivion. The old forms of entertainment have lost a great deal of popularity and been largely replaced by some modern day amusements.
Ashtamichi jatra of Narve
Gokulashtami which is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Shrikrishna, considered to be the eight incarnation of lord Vishnu. In Narve this day is observed as the Ashtamichi Jatra but it has no connection with Shrikrishna.
The third Tuesday of the fifth month Shravan of the Hindu calendar has special significance for the villagers of Narve as on that day they celebrate altogether a unique fair locally known as Masandevichi Jatra.
The Masandevi literally means the goddess of the crematorium. 5 km away from Bicholim town there is a small temple of Masandevi with the anthill in the Sanctum Sanctuary. On the right bank of the river Mandovi, there is a small hillock with the temple of Masandevi.
The area has a large numbers of tombstones, memorials raised in the honour of the dead persons by their relatives. Since last many years the area is considered as the most auspicious for performing the last rites of the dead one.
People have strong faith that the area within the vicinity of Masandevi is sacred as it is situated on the confluence of five rivers or Panchganga.
As per the tradition, the river Khandepar, Bicholim, Valvant, Mhadai, Ragado, and the river Zuari through the Cumbharjua canal joins and flows further as the Mandovi which are known as the Panchganga.
Within the area, are the century old memorials built by the relatives of the dead’s. There is one memorial dedicated to Kaisuvakar built in the year 1918.
During the day time of Ashtamichi jatra, people belonging to different caste, communities will come on the bank of Mandovi River inside the crematorium and with help of the Brahmin priest perform some rituals to please their ancestors by offering leaves, flowers in the river.
Devotees going first in the temple of Masandevi come to river and pay homage to a small shrine associated with the lord Shiva. No person will stay at this place after the Sun-set as they have belief that spirits haunts at the night. The night time of Ashtami is allotted for the ghosts to celebrate their feast known as the ‘Bhutachi jatra’.
As per the local belief the area surrounding Masandevi temple till the way proceeding to the river bank with the crematorium is full with the ghosts, spirits and no one is allowed to stay there. Shopkeepers, vendors, flower-sellers all disappear as soon as evening approaches.
Masandevichi Jatra at Narve
The word ‘Masan’ means crematorium or graveyard. Masanadevi represent a folk deity who acts as the goddess of graveyard. Hindus, generally cremate their dead. However, if a woman dies during the period of menstruation or during pregnancy or while delivering a child instead of being cremated she is buried on the border of the village.
There exist traditions of cremating such dead females in the vicinity of Masanadevi’s temple in Narve. Over the centuries burying or cremating the dead on the right bank of the Mandovi River in Narve is considered as auspicious.
In the past, there was no temple – structure nor any sculpture of the godess. Legend has it that a tribal woman who came to this place for grazing goats was killed by a tiger. As she was innocent and kind hearted, the tiger realizing his folly, committed suicide by hitting his head on the ground along with her dog. An ant-hill appeared at the place where she was cremated. In the course of time it becomes a religious sanctum as well as a cultural entity. Presently Masandevi is worshipped in the form of ant-hill.
The people believe that dead women’s spirits are held captive by Masandevi. As such, on burying dead woman in the vicinity of Masandevi temple, people come to the temple of Masandevi and pray for granting peace for to the departed soul. It is also a customary to hit a nail along with a copper coin in the trunk of a Kazro (Strychnos nux-vomica) tree standing in front of Masandevi temple.
Masandevi is believed to bless couples with a male child. Devotees who are so blessed visit the temple and after the invocation of the godess on the day of fair to tie a cradle made from bamboo to the Kazro tree (Strychnos nux-vomica).
Devotees also make an offering of a goat to the deity. She is also offered a laddle made of coconut shell. A dish locally known as ambil prepared from the ragi is also served as Prasad.
On the day of fair, devotees are given the clay of anthill as Prasad which they preserve in the house. Whenever, there is any problem or calamity, the devotees apply this clay to their forehead and invoke the deity to grant protection.
The annual fair at Narve is held from morning to evening. But no one will wait in the temple premises after nightfall. It is believed that goddess serves special food to all ghosts on that day and hence the whole area is said to be haunted by the spirits.
The next day Narve celebrate another very popular fair of Ashtam, not in the honour of Shri Krishna. Devotees take bath in the sacred water. They also perform the annual ritual of offering flowers to the ancestor’s spirits.
On the occasion deities from Bicholim and Ponda are brought to the locality in Palkhis and are worshipped on the hillock overlooking the river.
As soon as Ashtamichi Jatra is over not only devotees but also shopkeepers hurriedly disappear from the locality as they believe that ghosts and spirits haunting the area will assemble to celebrate their own Bhootanchi Jatra (fair of the ghosts).
Nag Panchami – the Festival of Cobra
Interestingly, there are two festivals related to the Cobra worship celebrated in Goa: one is the Nag Panchami celebrated on the fifth day of the waxing moon of the fifth month of the Hindu calendar Shravan and the second is the Anant Chaturdashi which is celebrated by the Brahmin Community during the fourteenth day of the sixth month Bhadrapad.
Throughout India, of all the venomous snakes, the Cobra has a religious as well as cultural importance. On the day of Nag Panchami, women in rural areas offer milk to termite mounds to seek the blessing of the Nag devata, since he is believed to dwell in them.
The Sheshnag or Anant is represented as the reclining couch and the roofing canopy of Lord Vishnu. The Sheshnag is regarded as the king of snakes and believed to rule the Patala (nether world).
Lord Anant mean the infinite and the timeless. The Indian mythology believes that Anant does not perish with the destruction of the universe.
Savoiverem of Ponda taluka has a beautiful temple of Anant which signifies the influence of the Cobra worship. Nageshi, a hamlet situated near Phonda also represent Lord Shiva as the God who wears a Cobra round his neck.
During the Nag Panchami, a large number of devotees throng to the temples of Anant, Nagesh and also visit temples of Shiva. He is considered as the lord of Cobras. In many sculptures of Shiva, the cobra is depicted as a special ornaments around the neck of Lord Shiva. It also shown to form a belt around the big stomach of Lord Ganesh. In the temple of Mahadev in Tambdi Surla two cobras are seen in the sculpture.
The cobra is the symbol of fertility and is worshipped among others, also by those who do not have an issue. The long and sinuous body of the snake signifies the continuity of birth and death cycle and probably symbolizes fertility.
In Goa, the clay idols of cobra are worshipped on the Nag Panchami day with utmost devotion, or cobra is also worshipped by painting its picture on the wall of the house.
The worship of cobra evolves from the tradition of expressing gratitude to the cobra that protects agricultural fields by exercising check on the population of the major agricultural pest- the rodents.
The festival of Nag Panchami is not celebrated by every Hindu family. Some abstain from doing so, for some past reason or calamity. In Virdi, a village 4 km away from Sanquelim, there are some families of Avakhale who do not worship the clay idols of cobra.
In Cothambi village of Quepem, there are the Desai families who instead of worshipping the clay idol of cobra, pay visit and worship Lord Chandreshwar.
In Palye of Pernem, the married women whose husbands are living perform a ritual called Haushe wherein they keep food items like flake – rice, boiled horse gram, pieces of fruits and pancake (vade) on the leaves of Kudo (Holorrena Antidysenterica) and distribute it to the villagers.
A special dish called Patolyo is made to mark the occasion. The patolyoes are made from kneaded rice flour with the mixture of jaggery and copra, wrapped in the turmeric leaves and steamed.
Milagris feast represent religious harmony
Our Lady of Miracles of Mapusa is widely popular as Milagris. This deity is respected by the Christians as well as the Hindus as ‘Saibin’. The feast of Milagris is celebrated for three days. As per the tradition, the feast is solemnized on the third Monday after Easter.
Priorts the feast, the nine – days – preparation called the Novenas are observed. The novenas are observed for enhancing one’s spiritual energy. During this period of nine days, various religious programmes are organised .A special prayer is held every day in which devotees take part in the large number. Notably, along with the Christians, Hindu devotees also participate in the novenas.
Thus the novenas and the feast of Milagris help across faiths promote religious harmony among the devotees.
The church dedicated to our Lady of Miracales was built in 1594 and was rebuilt in 1719. However, in 1838, it was destroyed in the fire which led to the new construction. St. Jerome is the patron saint of this church, while the image of Nossa Senhora de Milagres (our Lady of Miracles) is seen over the main altar.
St. John the Baptist is on the right hand altar in the transept and St. Jerome on the left hand altar. There is one more altar dedicated to the Holy Family. Our Lady of Miracles stands top the central altar. The church contains a store of treasures salvaged from Old Goa. The three retable’s coming from Daugin, Old Goa are the most picturesque and colourful in Goa
It is believed that the present church was built on the site of a Hindu temple of Mirabai, (one among the seven sisters along with Lairai of Shirgao). She is affectionately known as Milagres. Since traditions, Milagres is regarded as a deity that cures ailments and usually ailing persons would says,’ Milagres Saibini Pao’ meaning thereby, ‘Our Lady of Miracles, come to my rescue’
The feast of Milagris is one of the most popular cultural and religious events which bring the Hindus and Christians together and promote the spirit of fraternity. Lairai Devi and Milagris Saibin are believed to be closely related to each other. There is a tradition of sending a basket full of flowers to Lairai by the authorities of Milagris church.
The devotees among Hindu and Christians purchase replicas of human body organs like legs, hands, head etc. made from wax and make their offering at the feet of Milagris as soon as vows made by them are fulfilled with the blessing of Our Lady.
Raksha Bandhan- a symbol of sister’s love
The Indian culture emphasises, the spirit of fraternity and the festival of Raksha Bandhan highlight this age old message Raksha Bandhan is observed on the full moon day of Shravan where in sisters tie Rakhis on their brothers’ wrists urging them for protecting self – respect and decorum.
Rakhis of all shapes and hues, trimmed with silver and gold threads are available in the market for the sale on stalls, where women of all ages throng to buy. Actually, a Rakhi represent a chord which was tied round the wrist of a person on the full moon day of Shravan.
According to the Hindu Puranas, Indrani had first tied a chord on the wrist of her husband Indra, the king of God, with the hope of assuring the victory in a fierce battle that raged between the gods and demons. It is said that the chord of Indrani boosted the morale of Indra who successfully defeated the demons. From that day, a tradition of tying the Rakhi on the wrist begins ensuring a person good health, success and joy for the year that follows.
During the medieval period of the Indian history, it is said that once the ruler of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah besieged the kingdom of Udaipur ruled by Rani Karmavati. It was beyond her control to safeguard the kingdom so she sent a Rakhi to the Mughal ruler Humayun with expectation that he would interfere and helped her to get out of the tight corner situation. It was the tradition attached to the Rakhi which made Humayun immediately to proceed Udaipur. However, by the time Humayun reached there Rani Karmavati had immolated herself to protect her honour. After Humayun, the Mughal rulers like Akbar maintained the tradition of celebrating Raksha Bandhan.
During the struggle of Indian independence, many patriotic women tied Rakhis on men’s wrists and urged them to take part in the struggle to liberate the mother India from the yoke of the foreign rule. The veteran nationalist leader Surendranath Banerejee tried to elevate Raksha Bandhan to the status of a national festival.
Whatever may be the origin of Raksha Bandhan, today it has come to be a kind of sisters’ day expressing the deep love and affection to brothers which has the sanctity of the custom.
It is essential to highlight the rich message associated with this festival and thereby celebrate it for propagating human values among the new generation in the commercial world of fast changing ethos.
Interestingly the Raksha Bandhans day is traditionally observed among Goan Hindus as Sutachi Punav. Early in the morning after duly bathing a Hindu male offers sacred threads to various deities and then wears one on his body. This sacred thread is called as ‘Janve” and non-Brahmin communities of Goa wear it to mark this day. Among the fisher folk, there is a tradition of performing Pooja of sea on this day before resuming fishing in the post – monsoon season. The Jain community celebrates it as the day of Raksha Parva. On this day Rakhis are kept in the Jain temples. The Jain munis accept them with the respect.
Ramnavami – the birthday celebration of Shri Ram
Shri Ram has been the legendary ruler of Ayodhya who gave topmost priority to the well being of his subjects. He was the most virtuous benevolent ruler. Hence the day of his birth is celebrated as Ramnavami. The ninth day of the first fortnight of the Chitra, the first month of Hindu calendar marks the Ramnavami.
Shri Ram is regarded as the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. Madhvacharya, the well -known Spiritual leader propagated his philosophy in the early days of the 13th century and popularised the cult of Ram bhakti.
In Goa, there were two ancient temples of Shri Ram. In Pilgao of Bicholim taluka the temple of Ramchandra and Sita was destroyed by the Mughal army in the 17th century A. D.. In Cuncoliem of Salcete taluka, shrines of Shri Ram and Shri Krishna were destroyed by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
Partgal in Poinguinim of Canacona taluka is famous for the Gokarn Partgal Jeevottam Math venerated and adhered to by the Gaud Saraswat Vaishnava Brahmin sect.
An inscription in it mentions that the temple of Shri Ramchandra was founded between 1811 and 1812. At the Math, number of festivals are observed throughout the year. But the festival of Ramnavami is the principal one which commences from Chaitra Shuddha Panchami and last up to Navami. In front of the Math, at the entrance, a pillar called as Dhvajastambh has been erected on which religious performances are done during Ramnavami celebrations.
Shri Ramchandra temple of Pilgao is situated in the Gimone ward of the village. Since this temple is associated with the Charis, a community involved in carpentry, the members of Chari community throng the templeduring Ram Navami in large numbers from various parts of Goa. Different types of cultural and religious activities are organised in this temple to mark the occasion.
Colval in Bardez is famous for its Shri Ram temple and also for the annual festival of Ramnavami. As Colval is dominated by the fisherfolk communities, they are involved in organizing various religious and cultural events during the week – long celebrations held at the temple.
The Ramnavami celebration at Colval starts from Gudi Pawda, the Hindu new year day and continue till Ramnavami. The Bhajans, Kirtans, dramas are organized by the groups coming from various part of Goa.
Pomburpa village has a small but, beautiful temple of Shri Ram that is situated on the bank of a tributary of the Mapusa River and is known for its Ramnavami utsav.
Today most of the temples of Ram in Goa celebrate the birth ceremony of Shri Ram. An idol of infant Ram will be put into well – decorated cradle and while swinging it, lullabies praising infant Ram, will be sung by the folk artists.
Rane family has community celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi locally known as Chavath is the most popular Hindu festival celebrating by a vast majority of Goans which encourage the spirit of community living celebrating the festival by forgetting differences.
In the hamlet of the Keri village of Sattari, there are large number of Rane families residing over hundreds of years. All the members of this family presently scattered in different parts of Goa invariably come together on the occasion of Chavath to celebrate the festival in their ancestral village.
Jaisinghrao V. Rane, the former MLA of Sattari, residing at Sonal near Valpoi says, “The festival of Chavath unites all our family members in one house where more than 300 members worship one idol of Ganapati.”
When the rivalry among the Ranes and the Portuguese was intensified, they preferred to stay in Keri at the foothills of Vagheri which is encircled by a chain of lush green hills. The hill-locked village and the fighting spirit of the Rane helped them to protect their historic house at Ranewada in Keri.
In their ancestral house, there is a spacious hall locally known as Chouki where they collectively worship the clay idol of Ganapati with a lot of fun fare and enthusiasm.
Every year as per the turn, the head of the family gets the honour of worshipping Ganapati. Though he and his family members take responsibility of the celebration, other members take initiatives in various endeavours related to the integral celebration.
For five days, they celebrate the festival by organizing various cultural and religious events. The special performance of Bhajan, Fugadi, Kirtan and cultural events imparting various values of life are organised.
Along with the Rane Sardesai family of the Keri, the membere of Naik community too take part in the celebration. Coming together of the Ranes and Naik on one platform, make the celebration grand and more colourful.
In Revoda village of Bardez there is an island village called Juvem which is famous all over Goa for the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. The people from various parts of Goa pay visit to the island to witness the decoration specially done to mark the chavath celebration by families residing tin Juve. This island village aslo has the historic house of Rane family. This old house wears a festive look during the days of Chavath, as the members of Rane family settled in Bicholim, Bardez talukas make it a point to return Juve.
Rath Saptami – the mark the sun worship
Magh Shuddha Saptami is celebrated as the Rath Saptami. It is also known as Mahasaptami or Bhaskar Saptami. It falls on the seventh waxing moon day of Magh, eleventh month of Hindu calendar.
It is the day to express respect to the god – Sun for providing light, energy and making life possible on the earth. People draw the image of the sun and worship him by making offering of seven varieties of food grains, seven leaves of Rui plant and seven fruits of bor. A sweet dish ‘kheer’ is prepared mainly on the fire of cow dung cake in the clay pot and the offering is made to the deity.
There is a strong belief that if Sun god is worshipped on the Rath Saptami day a person will get long cheerful life and hence on this auspicious occasion there is a tradition of Sun worship.
Mallikarjun temple of Shristhal – Canacona is known across Goa for Rathsaptami Jatrotsav which is celebrated for 5 days. The first and second days are marked by the abhishek ritual followed by plays. On the day of Rathsaptami, the idol meant for festive occasion is made to sit in the chariot drawn on the shoulders of the devotees followed by the Palkhi procession at night. On the fourth day is the Lalkhi procession and the fair is concluded with the chariot procession on the fifth day.
The temple of Mallikarjun is associated with the Village Cmmunidades of Canacona, Nagarcem and Palole. The Rathsaptami Jatratsav is one of the biggest annual events of the temple which attract a large congregation from various parts of Canacona.
At Haturli – Mayem Rathsaptami is observed in the memory of Padmanabhswami, a well known spiritual leader of Goa, Maharashtra and the founder of Padmanabh Sampradaya. It is the death anniversary of Padmanabhswami, which is celebrated with various cultural and religious ceremonies in the presence of Shri Brahmaeshanand Swami, the present leader of the sect.
The Haldi – Kumkum ceremony of the Hindu women, which begins from Makar – Sankranti day which falls on 14th of January concludes on the Rathsaptami day.
The Dussera : festival of rites and rituals
The tenth day of bright forthnight of the Ashwin month is celebrated as the Dussera festival throughout Goa. This festival generally centres on the village temple with its own rites and ceremonies, which distinguish it from other fedtivals. On this day, in various parts of Goa, Tarangotsav is celebrated. Tarangas or insignias of village deities are taken in a ceremonial procession up to the boundaries of village. So that the deity might solemnly surveyfirst hand the lands of the village community entrusted to divine vigilance and jurisdiction. This ceremony which implies crossing over the boundary popularly known as Shimollanghan.
These insignias in the form of umbrella are related with female deities like Sateri, Mauli, Bhumka, Pavanai and male deities like Ravalnath, Bhutnath. These sacred umbrellas have shape of mushrooms. On the day of Dussera, these Tarangas are adorned with garlands of marigold flowers. In some places saffron coloured flag or a metal pitcher symbolically substitutes the presence of the idol of the deity.
During the days of warfare, the Dussera festival occupied great significances. As the monsoon showers lessened the intensity for the conquest and expansion of kingdoms, the rulers used to undertake campaigns on the auspicious occasion of Dussera which marks the end of the rainy season. In some families there is tradition of worshipping tools and weapons in remembrance of heroic history.
In some areas, cocks or goats are sacrified in honour of Tarangas. The blood of the sacrified animal is mixed with boiled rice and is offered to the deity. The devotees who carry the holy insignias come under the influence of divine presence and experience ‘Bhar’ or trance and in this state they give away Koul or divine blessings to the seekers. There is the popular belief that the Tarangas of Bhutnath, Ravalnath have the power to cure even those possessed by the evil spirits.
In Sattari, there is a historic temple of Ravalnath at Velus which has its reference in the stone inscription of 1402 AD belonging to the Vijayanagara period. This temple is known for its special Dussera. Mauxi village which is famous for its pre – historic rock carvings also has a Ravalnath temple where people from various areas throng on the occasion of Dussera to witness the processions of Tarangas and to get blessings from the deities.
The Dussera festival of Pernem commences on the said tenth day and lasts untill a day after the Kojagiri Pournima (full moon day of Ashwin). It throws light on the aristocratic elements and also of socio- cultural traditions of hoary past. Thousands of people visit the Ravalnath and Bhutnath temples of Pernem. Similarly the temple of Chandranath – Bhutnath of Paroda associated with 22 villages also attracts a very large crowd on the hillock, where it is situated.
The folk musical instruments like the Dhol, Taso both percussion instruments provides a forceful, distinctive folk music which enthrall populace.
In some areas Shing, a curved trumpet of brass which produces shrill hoarse tone is used in the Dussera procession. Dhangar a gouly, a pastoral community celebrate the Dussera in a distinct way for three days. The first day is Zagor which keep the community awake the whole night through folk songs and folk dances. The second day marks the worship of the deities of the clan, and on the third day they worship all the tools and implements used by them. They invoke on this occasion the goddess Mhalchi Pandhar for blessings and a good health for the family.
Dassera ; triumph of truth over evil
The Dassera is a ten days festival celebrated in the honour of the Goddess Durga. The preceeding nine nights or Navratri celebration is marked by dancing, recitation and performing various rituals which Dassera is celebrated on the tenth day of the bright Ashwin month as the culminating ceremony of Navratri.
The mythological story dpicts the Goddess Durga, as an incarnation of Goddess Parvati who had eight hands, riding on a tiger fought continuously against the demon Mahishasur and killed him on the tenth day.
This auspicious moment is regarded as the triumph of truth over evil and is observed as the Vijayadashami or Dassera throughout India. In North India, the Ramlila (play based on Shri Ram) is performed for nine days, followed by the burning of effigies of Ravan, the demon king of Lanka on the tenth day.
Another story from the Mahabharata narrates how Arjun, the famed warrior among the five Pandavas, in an attempt to protect the king Virat from the invasion of Kauravas, retrieved his weapons kept hidden on a Shami tree and eventually bought and won the battle against the invading Kauravas on the Dassera day.
Hence, on the day of Dassera, there is the tradition of greetings with one another by exchanging Shami (Prosopis spicigera) or Apta (Bauhinia racemosa) leaves.
The leaves of the Apta are supposed to symbolize gold because on this day, the king Raghu compulsed through his power, Kuber the god of all wealth to shower gold on a Shami tree which was collected by Kautsa and donated it to his teacher Varatantu.
From Pernem to Canacona, the Navaratri and Dassera are celebrated in the most of temples. At early morning, the people take bath and worship their religious books, iron weapons and tools and household goods. The students worship Saraswati, the Goddess of learning.
The day is regarded as one of the three and half most important occasions or Muhurtas for undertaking any new work or business in Goa. On the day of Dassera in many parts of Goa, the insignias, locally known as Tarangas are dressed in the umbrella shape of Goddess Mauli or Sateri or Pavanai and of God Ravalnath and are taken out for procession on the beats of folk musical instruments like the dhol, taso.
The festival of Makar Sankrati
The Indian festivals and religious ceremonies are based on the solar as well as the lunar cycles. The position of the sun and the moon plays an important role in determining these festivals and rituals.
The sun is the main source of light and is considered as one of the gods of the Hindu pantheon as per the Indian mythology. A solar month is said to be the time taken by the sun to travel through a rashi or zodiac sign. The entry of the sun in a zodiac sign is termed as Sankranti (locally called Sankrant).
Though there are twelve Sankrants in a year, Makar Sankranti and Shravan Sankranti are the two most auspicious as far as the religious rituals are concerned. The entire year is divided into two parts of solar progression: Uttarayana meaning the northern declination of the sun; and, Dakshinayan meaning the southern declination of the sun.
When the sun enters the constellation of Capricorn or Makar, the festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated. The period of Uttarayana is believed to be the most auspicious as per the Hindu tradition. So much so that every religious – minded Hindu strongly desires even to die during the Uttarayana. Since it is believed that Uttarayana begins on the Makar Sankranti, every Hindu home welcomes it by preparing delicious sweet dishes, specific to this season and the festivities.
Interestingly, the dates of most other Hindu festivals are not fixed since they are goverened by the lunar calender but Makar Sankranti is observed every year on 14 January when it is Shishir Ritu or winter season. On this day a special sweet is prepared from Til (sesame). Dried sesame seeds are mixed with the jaggery and small size laddus are made and are exchanged with the massage ‘eat the til sweet and speak sweetly throughout the year’ without hurting the sentiments of others.
This specific sweet preparation appears to have a health related basis too. As the climatic condition during this time of the year is cold and the human body is in need of extra energy and heat, eating of the sweet made from sesame and jaggery provides extra heat and energy and hence this tradition must have come into practice.
However, it is gradually disappearing since now a days people have less time to make ‘Tilache Laddu’. Everyone prefers to exchange attractive colourful pieces of pillet size ‘tilgul’ made from powdered sugar and readily available in the market.
Goan women indiviually celebrate ‘Haldi kumkum’ during the period rangign from Makar Sankranti to Rath Saptami which concludes on Magh Shukla Saptami. It is the occasion where in the women of the neighbourhood and close kin pay a visit to the house where the ritual of Haldi Kumkum’ is being held. On this day the organisor woman applies the kumkum powder and turmeric to the forehead of the women visiting her house and offer various gift items along with a wida (2 betal leaves and a nut).
However, during her first year of marriage without fail she offers a mini clay pot filled with various cereals.
Invariably during this exchange of gifts sprouted gram and ‘tilgul’ or til laddoos are gifted to the visiting ladies and the minor children who accompany them. In some elite families even the pre – puberty girls have their own little halhi – kumkum where they gift til bits to girls of their own age group with haldi – kumkum.
In fine for the twenty odd days following makar sankrant, the Goan Hindu women in Goa are in a festive mood visiting houses of their fellow women in Goa are colourful costumes happily.
The Gudi Padwa – a New Year celebration
The New Year celebration of the Goan Hindus is known as the Gudi Padwa or Sansar Padwa. The twelve months of the Hindu calendar, starting from Chaitra to Falgun are related to the cycle of six seasons, each lasting a couple of months.
Ritu sanhar written by the great Sanskrit poet Kalidas, offers a description of these six seasons. Vasant is the spring season where in many trees get new leaves. Various plants are laden with flowers and fruits which reflect joy and happiness among the human beings.
The new leaves, flowers and fruits of the spring season on the first day of Chaitra heralds happiness and hence our ancestors thought it right to celebrate it as the New Year day.
In some parts of Goa, Shigmo festival is celebrated for a fortnight and it is concluded on the Gudi Padwa day through the presentation of dance, drama and song. Earlier, when there were absences of modern means of entertainment, the folk performances of Ranmale, Jagar were not only providing entertaining but also imparting the value education.
Goa has the rich folk theatre. The Ranmale is the popular form of folk drama. Once many villages situated in the remotest corner of the Sahyadri hills were involved in the performances of Ranmale. Besides, Sattari and Sanguem villages from Karnataka and Maharashtra bordering these talukas have performances of the Ranmale during the five days celebration of the Shigmo or on the Gudi Padwa’s night.
It starts with the invocation to lord Ganesh, who appears on the stage and performs dance. He is followed by goddess Saraswati. Through its combination of dance, drama, songs performances of the Ranmale entertain the rural folk. The first session of Ranmale makes the dramatized presentations of the contemporary issues related to the day-to-day life of the community. In the second session the presentation based on mythological stories is performed.
The story of Lord Rama, Sita and Laxman is unfolded through the drama by the folk artists through singing and acting.
Gudi Padwa is also celebrated as Ugadi in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The story goes that Lord Brahma, the first god of the famous trinity of Hindu Gods d the whole universe on this day. In order to commemorate the incident, there is a tradition to hoist a pole with a shining silver or brass metal vessel fastened to a flowing saffron colour cloth called the Gudi. Garland of flowers, sweets and neem leaves are tied to the Gudi.
In some areas people place a new almanac or Panchang before the Gudi and it is worshipped with halad [turmeric], kumkum [red powder], chandan [sandalwood paste] and flowers. Hearts of the people are full of hope and gratitude since trees are full of new leaves, flowers and fruits. It makes the countryside look fresh as though born a new.
In various parts of Goa, the New Year celebration is observed with different cultural performances. For instance on the previous day to Gudi Padwa, in Nanoda village of Bicholim, a folkdance Ghodemodni is performed, whereas in Bicholim town, it is a time for the performance of Virbhadra folkdance.
On this day various sweets and dishes are prepared to mark the occasion of new year. People pay visit to temple and perform pooja. The unmarried youths from the Velip tribal community flock to Gaodongari for taking part in ‘Dinya Jatra’. A well decorated stick of dino (Leea indica) with the wild flowers is brought by the unmarried youths to take part in the fair which is held in the afternoon. It is a mandatory for the Velip youth to hold the dino stick in the procession and then only they are allowed to get marry.
Early in the morning, all members of the household take a refreshing oil bath and put on new clothes. A concoction of tender neem (Azadirachta indica) leaves flavored with pepper is then partaken of as Prasad first thing in the morning on the occasion. The neem is valued more for its medicinal properties and it also posses properties of insecticide and pesticide. The neem leaves have great importance on the Gudi Padwa day.
The day is considered as one of the three and half auspicious occasions to start any new work or undertaking.
Tripurari pournima mark triumph of truth
Tripurari Pournima remembers us about killing of evil power in the form of demon Tripurasur by lord Shiva.
This day comes on the full moon day of Kartik, the eight month of Hindu calendar. As the sky is generally cloudless and climate is chilling, lighting of diyas or traditional clay lamps add more flavours to the charm in the full moon light. The towering lamppost or Deepmal standing in front of many temples in Goa was fully illuminated with the lamps to mark the occasion of triumph of goodness over evil entities.
The kartik month is the period among the Gawda Tribal community of Sanguem to celebrate the eco-feministic festival of Katyo. Presently only two hamlets observe this unique festival. Udalshe, a small ward of Sacorda and Okami, an hamlet of Dharbandoda near Sanjeevani Sugar factory celebrate the Katyo.
The Katyo festival of Udalshe we have inherited from the Gawda community. Today very few members of Gawda are left here and hence women belonging to other communities too are taking part in it singing and dancing happily.
Okami have celebrated the Katyo for five days. On the eleventh day all the Gawda women of the locality comes together at the sacred place called as ‘Maand’ where Tulsi vrundavan or pedestal is there. Women participating in the folk dances apply the kumkum paste on their forehead. Whole night they perform enchanting folk dances depicting there love for surrounding ecology. Next night is the celebration of Tulshi lagna or marriage. No Tulsi marriage ceremony in Okami will hold before performing Tulsi lagna on the Maand. Though this festival is totally meant for women, on this night a person enact as Bambdev who has affiliation with the lord Shiva. Other male participants loudly chant ‘Har Har Bambdev’. During the third night unmarried women dress as the wife and husband of Dhangar community and other girls enact as grazing goats. The fourth night turns melodious with the recitation of folksongs. Kartik Pournima is the concluding night of Katyo, where in women present varied folkdances and folksongs. At the dawn all the unmarried youths have to come on maand and breaking the chain of women dancing in the circle has to enter the center and take away Vade (fried pancakes). If a youth fail to come back he is not permitted to get marry.
In the past the eco-faministic festival of Katyo was celebrated with the almost respect and interest but changing values have made a lot of impact on this rich tradition.
Kartik Pournima at Ganpati-Murugan temple at Ravanfond Margaon, attracts a large crowd of devotees who pay visit to temple for worshiping the deity Kartik Swami, the brother of lord Ganpati.
Today Goa has small population of Sikh community. Guru Parb is celebrated on the moon night of kartik to mark the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Two days before the birth day of Guru Nanak, the holy book of Guru Granth sahib is read on day and night without interruption. On the Guru Parb day langers or commonunity kitchens are organized. All the devotees who visit the Guradwar seat together and share a tasty meal. Betim and Marmagoa have Gurudwars which attract member of Sikh community. Near Sanquelim the peoples from various corners paid visit to Vithalapur temple to witness a grand celebration of Tripurari Pournima which marked with a variety entertainment programmes and unique boat festival patronized by the Directorate of Art and Culture and Goa Tourism Development Corporation.
Urus Celebrated at Sanquelim
Sanquelim town witnesses the celebration of Urus. Just as the Hindu celebrates Jatra and the Christian observes feast, the Muslim communities jubilantly celebrates the Urus to play their utmost respect to the Pirs, who were the pious Islamic saints responsible for propagating humanitarian ideals and often integrating the Hindu-Muslim fraternity.
On the border of Poriem and Sanquelim, on the left bank of Valvant River there is a small settlement of Muslims and the historic Durgah of Hazrat Babar Pir Awalia, respected by the Hindu and Muslim communities even from the Pre-Portuguese era.
Abdul Shah Muzawar, who is associated with this Durgah from the last five decades, says, “The Pir fulfill the vows of devotees from Hindu as well as Muslim. Both these communities take part in the Urus celebration forgetting their religious differences.”
Every year after eleven days of Ramzan Eid, at Betul, Khandepar, Surla-Tar, Pilgao, Sarvan, Sanquelim of Goa and at a certain place from Karnataka celebrates the Urus. The Hindus, Muslim assemble near the Durgah of the Pir and make offering of garlands of flowers. All these shrines associated with the Pirs are located on the either bank of the rivers which were once navigable. There is possibility, that the Muslim communities involved in trade and commerce popularized the tradition of the Pir worship.
It is believed that the Pir worship in Goa first began at Betul from Quepem and then spread to the other parts of Goa. Six shrines of Pir from Goa and one from Karnataka have ties with each others. All seven Pirs are considered to be the brothers who had enlightened people through various values of love and intense devotion. Devotees from both communities have been organizing the Urus for seeking the Pir’s spiritual grace.
Quawwals or specially trained musicians are invited to evoke divine ecstasy on the occasions of Urus. But, nowadays programmes of Qawwalies are especially held not on the day of Urus but on some other day.
Near to the Durgah, there is an old Kosamb tree {Schleichera oleosa} which is considered as the sacred by the Muslim and Hindus. On every Thursday, members of Muzawar families light a lamp inside a small shrine for the unseen Holy Spirit called Babaro. In the past, late Usman Shah Muzawar used to offer a pair of shoes and a woolen carpet annually to the Holy Spirit who, it was believed used them to roam 700 villages. On the day of Nag Panchami, he would also offer the milk near the shrine to the guardian snake Cobra.
Earlier, members of Muzawar families from Sanquelim were going to Bhandarwada where they were respectfully honoured at the sacred place called the Maand by the Hindus during the Shigmo festival. Even today both communities whole – heartedly respect each other’s traditions and beliefs. Sanquelim town has a long history of communal harmony and spirit of co-operation exists among them.
During the night of the Urus, eminent members of Hindu communities from Sanquelim partake of the special dinner known as ‘Niyaz’ organised by the Muslims. In Poriem, villagers always invoke the Pir on all important religious ceremonies of their temple.
Urus celebration at Bicholim
On the left bank of Bicholim river there is a durgah dedicated to Sharif Hazrat Adul Baba. The tomb stones of this Pir and his guru were covered with the new carpets and garlands of flowers
Among the Muslim, the pious saint who offer humanitarian service to mankind and preach the gospel of truth, love and humanity are given the title of Pir. Every year, a fair is organised wherein devotees visit the durgah and pay their homage to the Pir.
Today the shrine is lying in the cool shade of Chinch (Tamarind), Savar (Bombax ceiba), Amo (Mangfera indica) and Kumyo (Cereya Arborea) trees. In the evening children offer prayers and people are given sharbat (squash).
Earlier both tombstones used to be washed with the rose water and dressed with the new carpets. In the evening the special vegetarian and non – vegetarian food which is known as Niyaz used to be served. The members of Hindu and Christians communities enjoyed the delicious food along with the Muslim friends.
Huge utensils were brought and in the cool shade of the tree, the food was cooked on the traditional oven in the open by the local Muslim community.
Ibrahim Khan associated with the Durgah says, “Since last many generations, the Urus is celebrated in Bicholim wherein we always receive the necessary boost from our Hindu brothers. The land where the durgah is built belongs to Sadguru Shetye but we have not faced any hurdle from him.”
A varied tradition of Shigmo
Once, Goa was dominated by the agricultural communities. The farmers toiling hard in the soil during the winter season for Vaigan agriculture needs relief through entertainment and religious rituals and celebrations. Shigmo was the forum through which they were getting relief from the day today pains and sufferings.
Throughout Goa, the Shigmo festival has important place in the cultural life of the land. Though the non – Brahmin communities are mainly involved in the celebration and rituals of the Shigmo; now a days the Brahmin communities are taking part wholeheartedly in the various performances of the festival.
During the sixteenth century, when the Portuguese conquered Tiswadi, they to discourage the morale of the Hindus, put ban on the celebration of the Shigmo.
All over Goa Shigmo is celebrated in the month of Phalguna, but only in Dongari of Mandur, Tiswadi, it coincides with the carnival of the Catholic community, known as ‘Intruz’ which is derived from ‘Entrudo’ meaning carnival. As the Shigmo was abolished by the Portuguese in the whole territory of the old conquests, it only survived in disguise in Dongari.
The farming communities celebrate Intruz in Dongari with the same fun and frolic of Shigmo with the blessing of their presiding deity Shashti Shantadurga. Even after the religious persecutions, our forefathers have continued to celebrate Shigmo under the name of Intruz and there by have maintained their linkages with the ancestral cultural heritage.
In Goa, there are two types of Shigmo performances are observed. The first Shigmo which take place from the first half of Phalguna is known as the Dhakto Shigmo where as the Shigmo that take place from the full moon day of Phalguna is known as Vodlo Shigmo. The Dhakto Shigmo is mainly observed by the villagers of Zuari basin whereas Vadlo Shigmo by the villagers of Mandovi basin.
Mallikarjuna temple of Shristhal is associated with village communidades of Canacona, Nagarshe and Palole. From time immemorial the deity Mallikarjuna is not only related with villages of Canacona but also with villages of Karnataka like Hosali, Mudgeri, Makkeri, Kharge…….which are the parts of Shirveshwar or Karwar region are offering gratitude to Mallikarjuna.
The Avatar Purush of the temple of Mallikarjun from full moon day of Paush pays visits to Karwar region. Devotees welcome the procession with the utmost respect. After spending two and half months, the procession returns back to Canacona on the seventh day of Phalgun. On the return journey of insignia of Mallikarjun, devotees scattered in various areas of Canacona too welcome with the celebrations.
In many villages of Canacona, villagers assemble near the temple to invoke the deity by reciting ‘Naman’ wherein they sing folksongs praising the gods. These folksongs are sung by the folklorists from the tradition with the tune inherited from the ancestors. These songs are important and known by very few elders of the village.
Loliye has the temple of Keshav. Villagers sing the ‘Naman’ and perform folkdances and then proceed to cover whole village by presenting folkdances in large group on the tune of folk musical instruments. Till full moon day whole village become one with the various folk performances of Shigmo festival.
In Poiguini, Loliye and other villages of Canacona, the Bhagat and Velip communities annually observe the Viramel, a unique form of martial art from the ninth day of Phalgun to the full moon day.
The folk artists of Bhagat community wearing the white dhoti and a turban holds a naked sword and visits every house in the procession carrying a broom of peacock feathers called the Pillakucho with the folk musicians playing dhol, taso, jaghat and a horn ‘shing’. The artists make the ritualistic performance.
The Shigmo of Canacona reflects a varied and rich tradition folk dances mainly performed by the male artists. These include Tonyamel, Talgadi and Goff.
The folk artists from Canacona have maintained the tradition of the folk dances, even when the rest of Goa is under the influence of modernization.
Actually, the preparation for Shigmo starts from the Mahashivratri, in some village of Goa, wherein the folk artists impart training to the budding artists.
Shigmo : exhibition of vivid cultural heritage
No festival in Goa, exhibits a wide range of variety of folk dances like Shigmo. It is the most appropriate occasion wherein the folk artists with out fail make the presentation of folk dances. Folk songs are normally not d, but grow rather through a process of recreation of material already in existence.
These folk dances are spread over many individuals and generations, and they never come to end as long as the tradition of the festival like Shigmo is alive. The folk dances like Talgadi, Tonyamel, Goff are specially performed by the men folk during the Shigmo
Talgadi folk dance was once found to be performed all over Goa. But now it is confined to few areas. The artists who dress in traditional attire of dhoti and mundashe perform the Talgadi on the tune of folk music. They make use of folk musical instruments like Zanj (cymbal), Samel (a small drum from the goat skin) and Ghumat (earthen drum of monitor lizard skin) while performing the Talgadi.
There are traditional folk songs which are sung during the Talgadi. But many occasions it starts with the song, ‘Shrirang Talgadi Shrirang Tal’. The folk songs used for Talgadi are called as ‘Jot’. For presenting Talgadi, there is need of six to eight artists. The folksongs are based on the mythological stories. The artists present vivid patterns in the dance and conclude it by saying, “Tha thai tha” words.
Tonyamel is a folk dance having similarities with the Talgadi except making use of Tonyo or sticks made from cane or bamboo. This dance requires very quick movements on the tune of the folk music. They wear dhoti and a turban with the garlands of crossanda flowers in the neck.
In the villages of Sanguem, Canacona there was a tradition of the Goff dance. Before performing the dance, artists tie colour strings to the twig of tree or to a horizontal pole. Men folk by holding strings present this most colourful dance. Weave and untie the braid in different patterns while dancing for the Goff. The artists sing folk songs praising the lord Krishna.
The Gadyachi Jatra – a tribute to the ghosts and holy spirits
Though, science does not believe in the existence life after death. Many cultures in the world have a lot of rituals for the ghosts and holy spirits. In order to appease them in many parts of Goa, various cultural and religious ceremonies are performed.
The Shigmo festival is considered to be the most appropriate occasion to express gratitude to the ghosts and holy spirits in Goa. The Gadyachi jatra of Sal, Borde -Bicholim, Pilgao, Kudne, Savai – Vere are involved around the ghosts (bhuta) and holy spirits (devchar).
In Poinguini of Cancona, there is a Betal temple which is associated also with the ‘Gadyachi jatra’ that is celebrated in April once in three years. Four male persons who are dressed in the white dhoti are called as ‘Gade’ take part in the ceremony along with other devotees. A document written on cloth in 1823 A.D. is read out on the occasion. In front of Betal temple a tall platform of areca nut trunks is erected on which ‘Gade’ are made to suspend by means of hooks to a revolving wheel, and they are set free, when the audience, on being asked by the ‘Mall Gaddo’ declared that they are satisfied.
Sal in Bicholim is famous for ‘Gadyachi Jatra’ which attracts a big crowd from Goa and border areas of Maharashtra, Karnataka. On day of Holi Pournima, a wooden trunk of mango tree which is decorated in mango leaves is made to stand near Mahadev temple.
As per the Hindu tradition, Mahadev is believed to be the god of ghosts and holy a well as evil spirits who prefer to meditate in the crematorium. On the second day of Holi at the night persons who are dressed in the white dhoti assemble at the sacred place called ‘mand. As soon as a crowd (romat) comes to the mand dancing on the beats of dhol and taso, the villagers invoke for blessing of all the deities of the village.
The elderly persons sit nearby singing non-stop folk song called ‘naman’ on the beats of dhol., 52 persons known as ‘Gade’ belonging to Raut, Parab, Naik, Ghure, Mhale, Mesta communities are dressed in dhoti moves around the pole which is erected as the Holi on the mand. It is believed that under the trance they all run in the direction of hill where in they are taken in to the forest by showing mysterious torch by the spirit called ‘Devchar’.
Sometimes he lights the torch on the top of the tree, then suddenly on the ground. Lighting and extinguishing process of torch mesmerizes the people who specially come to witness this phenomenon. “In past all together 64 Gades were taking part in the Gadyanchi Jatra but now only 52 Gades participates in the three nights fair”, says Pandurang Krishna Parab of Sal.
For the three nights the ‘Devchar’ shows Chudti or torch. He also hides few persons known as Gade on the tree or inside the temple premises. On that night or on the next two nights these hidden Gades who are unconscious are handed over by the Devchar to other Gades by lighting the torch. Afterward they are brought on the sacred place. The unconscious Gades return to their senses when the sacred water is poured into their mouth who then participates with other Gades. These Gades during the whole night goes to all places where the holy spirits are residing. They also visit to the crematorium and carry remnants of burnt dead body in their hands for some time along with the votive clay figures.
In Kudne Gadyanchi Jatra is held for three nights with out lighting any type of lamp, where as in Sal lighting of lamp is allowed. Rohidas Pal from Borde – Bicholim says, “We have continued the tradition of Gadyanchi Jatra with the intention to get rid off wrath of ghosts and evil spirits”.
Shigmo Festival at Marcela
The most of all over Goa, Shigmo is being celebrated during the last month of Hindu calendar Falgun along with other parts of India. However Vargao of Phonda Taluka has exception since the Shigmo is celebrated twice, first during the Holi Pournima and secondly during the Chaitra, the first month.
The Shigmo is the joyful outburst of varied talents of folklore which are inherited by the sons of the soil from the past. Vargao nestle amidst the grove of coconut and enrich by perennial spring has the temple of village deity Shantadurga.
Today, hardly few are aware about Vargao as Marcela, a ward of this village is more popular and densely populated than the main village. People involved in various parts of Goa have settled in Marcela ward as it is near to Phonda and Panaji cities and also the hub of many Hindu temples.
Temples of Shantadurga from Talaulim of Santana of Tiswadi, Shantadurga of Verla – Parra of Bardez, Ravalnath and Mallinath of Chorao of Tiswadi, Shantadurga of Cumbharzua of Tiswadi, Bhagavati of Chimbel of Tiswadi along with affiliate deities are situated in Marcel to avoid the religious harassment of the Portuguese rule.
All these temples have given the honour of land of gods or Devbhumi to Marcela. Throughout the year Marcela has a variety of fairs and festivals. However the presiding deity of Marcela lies in the village from where annually deity Shantadurga is brought in procession through Palkhi.
Coming of Gramdevi Shantadurga to Marcela is considered as the auspicious and happiest moment and to welcome her, the residents celebrate the Shigmo festival with a lot of activities of amusement for seven days.
The devotees from Marcela pay visits to the temple of Shantadurga at Vargao during the night and early in the morning they all come back to Marcela with the Palkhi of Shantadurga.
The Shigmotsav is the occasion when the artists from our area make the presentation of dramas, with the immense degree of devotion and interest. Marcela is known all over Goa for the artists of caliber and one can witness extra ordinary skills and talents during the presentation of these dramas.
On 5th day, there is a funny entertainment performance of Navardev wherein an unmarried youth is dressed as the bridegroom and taken in the procession from bus stand to Vithal Mandir on the tune of music. On the way he is offered presents and gifts by the locals.
Next day there is a special performance of Virat Vetal Darshan at the dawn. A man from Kholkar family is dressed in the costume of Vetal, a god related with ghosts and evil spirits holding sword and shield. The devotees make invocation and urge for his blessing. This is followed by the Gulalotsav. All takes part in the Gulalotsav. First they offered Gulal (colour powder) to Shantadurgaand then by applying the colours to each other.
In the past Palkhi processions of Shantadurga Cumbharzuakarin and Shantadurga of Vargao used to hold more or less during Shigmo festival. Once there developed differences. To avoid clashes it was decided to organise the Shigmo in honour of Shantadurga of Vargao before the Akshya Trutiya.
At the midnight of last day the Palkhi of Shantadurga is taken back in procession from Marcela to Vargao. However while returning back the Palkhi pay visit to all the temples and shrines situated in the various areas of Marcela. Along with the dance, drama, folk music, gambling is the integral part of this Shigmotsav.
The Morulo folk dance depicts the vivid dancing styles of the peacock. Once it was there in many parts of Goa, but today Sarvan, Narve of Bicholim has the tradition of Morulo dance. The artist singing the song describes the behavioral pattern of the peacock on the tune of folk music.
The Morulo dance and Sarvan village were once synonymous. During the Ghodemodni, we were performing the Morulo and people from various parts of Goa were coming specially to witness the performance of this unique dance.
In some villages of Pernem, Bicholim and Sattari and border areas of Maharashtra there is Ghodemodni dance. The dancers tie wooden effigies of the horse mouth along with the bamboo structured covered with the colourful cloth and wear turban. Holding a naked sword in the right hand, the dancers march towards the temple of village deity and perform the dance on the beats of drums.
This dance reflects the heritage of warfare and while performing the dancers act as if they are seating on the live horse back. The Ghodemodni of Thane – Dongurli of Sattari attracts very large crowd and is held every after nate year. 14 horses from Rive, Golauli, Hivre – Budruk, Hivre – Khurd, Charavane, Pali and Thane come to the sacred place called ‘Mundalgiryche mol’.
Villagers which are dominated by the warrior class have the tradition of Ghodemodni. Annually these dancers will visits the fixed places and perform dance to pay the gratitude.
Thane village has the rich history of warfare. This history of bravery is reflected through the folk dance of Ghodemodni with the blessing of the folk deities Kolgiro and Mundalgiro who were known for the warfare and brave deeds.
Shigmo of Phonda- reflection of the ethno-musicological heritage
Antruz mahal or Phonda has the rich tradition of ethno musicological heritage and to experience this, there is no right occasion then the Shigmo festival. Music and musical instruments have become unavoidable part and parcel of Phonda’s Shigmo.
The mercantile, religious and martial connections of Phonda are responsible for enriching the folk music of the area. The musical instruments which are used in the Shigmo of Phonda are so varied that have not only meaningful sounds but even significant substances.
The use of musical instruments has involved forth not only discharging passionate feelings but also through muscular urge concomitant to the nervous tension. Phonda is actually the land of tall and towering temples. Many temples from Salcete, Tiswadi were transferred to Phonda and all these temples are responsible for giving patronage to the folk artists who have established excellent tradition of the ethnomusicology.
Most probably, in various folk performances, the artists from Phonda make use of the Ghumat, Shamel, Zod-shamel, Taso, Dhol, Nagaro, Ghoom which are the popular percussion instruments along with idiophone instruments like Zanghat Kansalem, Zanz, Tal. They also uses a curved trumpet of brass called Shing, a wooden straight trumpet known as Korno and a curved pipe instrument Banko which a harsh and loud sound . All these instruments are belonged to aero phone group.
Shri Mhalsa temple of Mardol is much respected by the devotees and also feared when the decisive oaths were prevalent in Goa. The oath under the bell of her temple was established by several laws since 1532. Thus, this deity commands great respect.
The Romtamel, a big group of folk dance presentation during the Shigmo, march on the 14th day of the first half of Phalgun to Mardol to express their gratitude to goddess Mhalsa.
The Romtamel with their various insignias and folk musical instruments comes to Mardol. Romtamel from Madkai, Keri, Savai vere, Bhom-Adcon, Priol, Cuncolaye, Kundai and Mangeshi came and enthrall the audience with their excellent and energetic performances.
Among these Romtamal, Madanant Devasthan Romtamel of Savoi-vere according to the tradition had initiated the procession.
The Romtamel of Antruz Mahal exhibits varied facets of Goa’s vibrant and dynamic culture during the Shigmo. The folk artists have kept this tradition alive since it is related with their identity.
Most of all villages of Phonda nowadays are one with the colourful and enchanting Shigmo. Through the presentation of dances, songs, they express their love and respect to the folk deities.
The Romtamels of Savoi vere pays visits to each house and after the recitation of folk songs ‘Jot’ blessed the family members. They all assembled at Sateri temple during the night and from there went to Kanvgal. Today at the noon villagers will observe Gadotsav followed by the Holi celebration.
Shigmo of the tribals of the hilly areas
Shigmo festival is celebrated totally in different way by the forest dwelling tribals residing in the hilly areas of the Canacona, Sanguem and Quepem. The scheduled tribes Velip were once the forest dwellers. Their religious and cultural life is mainly related with the forest.
Once they were relied on the forest for the food, fodder, fuel. Their needs were few and could be fulfilled in the jungle. As their life was depend on the forest, they were cutting trees but not on large scale and for commercial purpose. Their gods and goddess were not in constructed temples or shrine but inside the jungle without any concrete structure.
Now to avail the benefits of modern civic amenities and restrictions put on the forest dwellers for the movement, they preferred to settle near to villages and towns. However, they still have continued to maintain their ties with the forest. Shigmo festival urges them to live their houses in the villages and move to the remote hilly areas where their shrines of various deities are situated.
The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary of Canacona has many tribal hamlets. The Velips of Ave on the Navami ninth day of the first half of Phalgun goes to Avalidano, the place of their earliest settlement and reside till the day of Holi Pournima in the specially erected thatched roofs huts.
They carry with them food and all the necessary items of daily domestic use. During this period of stay, they strictly make use of vegetarian foods that is cooked by bringing fresh water of spring or well.
In many parts of Goa, Shigmo and use of alcohol is closely related. However, the Velip community is the exception. They never drink alcohol or nor consume fish and meat.
Since many generations, they have continued the tradition. By invoking deities on the Navami, they acquire the blessings of Sinyapurush. The moon – lit night becomes pleasant with the presentation of Tonyamel folk dance.
The Avali Dano is the sacred grove. Once it was densely forested. All the species of wild trees are protected. Inside the grove, there is a spherical shaped platform made by using stone which is used for making religious discussion.
In the moon light inside thatched rooted hut, floor pasted with the cow- dung become alive with the presentation of various folk dances.
Next day, the folk artist of Velip community moves down in villages for performing folkdances on the recitation of folksongs. On the sacred place called ‘mand’, the present’s folk songs of Chourang, Aarat and Talo. All these folk songs reflect the ecotheological dimension of the community.
In the past their livelihood was depend on the forest resources and making the optimum use for subsistence was their way of life.
There are four shrines at Avalidano, namely, Sataidevi, Mahabaleshwar, Paikadev and Kulgati Purush. On the full moon day, the women light the traditional lamp of clay called ‘Divaz’ and keep them in front of the wooden pole throughout the night.
Birth and death in the family, menstruation keep a woman from observing this ceremony. The woman considers lighting the ‘Divaz’ as the most important annual ritual. After celebrating the fair of Sataidevi, most of the families return down to their villages.
Those who possess cattle, they prefer to reside till the Gudi Padvo, the Hindu new year. The Velip community does not erect the pole of wild tree by decorating it with neither mango leaves nor they burn wooden logs or grasses to celebrate a Holi.
In Neturli of Sanguem, a pole of mango tree is erected and worshipped as the Holi. From Navami to Pournima, the Velip of Neturli performs a marshal art form called ‘Hanpet’ which begins from the shrine of Bhagvati. The main four persons with the naked swords hit their bodies causing injuries and bleeding.
There are other folk artists who too perform ‘Hanpet’ without causing any injuries to the body. They visit each house and perform the ‘Hanpet’ dance on the music of dhol, taso, Janghat, ghumat. All the rituals which are performed by the Velip depict the rich eco – cultural heritage inherited by them from their ancestors.
In many parts of Goa, there was a tradition to impart training in the folk performances from the night of Mahashivratri which is considered as the most auspicious occasion to impart training by the experienced folk artists. In villages within the river basin of Mandovi, the celebration of Shigmo begins on the full moon day.
In Sattari, Bicholim, Pernem, a trunk of wild tree is brought from the forest on the tune of drum. It is decorated with the leaves of mango and white or red coloured flog along with a coconut is tied on the top. This trunk is erected in the whole dug in front of the temple. Pooja is performed and grosses are put on the fire around the trunk. In some villages, people assembled break coconut on the stone kept near the Holi where a in some areas weight lifting event is organised. Huge spherical stones are lifted to prove the ability and strength. The winner receives the appreciation from the community.
On the second day of Holi Pournima, in many villages youths decorated their head with cheaply available seasonal wild flowers visit house to house. They are called as ‘Chor’ or thieves. On this particular day, they are allowed to loot flowers, fruits, nuts or fowls. No one dare to give bad words and worship them. They sing melodious songs on the tune of percussion instruments like dhol, taso, samel, ghumat, idiophonic instruments like cymbals or kasale. After presenting folk dances and songs in front of the village’s deity, they move house to house and make the presentation of performances. They recite the invocation and urge all the deities to bestow blessings on all the members of family. At every house, a troupe is welcomed whole heartedly and offered rice, coconut and other gift and money.
They are worshiped and offered eatables. Only two villages in Goa celebrate the unique festival of Chorostav. Zarme situated at the foot hills of Vagheri near to the Chorla ghat and Caranzol at the foothills of Hulan dongor and near to the Kelil ghat are known for the Chorostav. In Zarme on the second day and Caranzol on the seventh day of Holi Pournima, the Chorostav is observed. Eight pits were dug in the Swastik like structure. Four men are buried with their whole body except above neck is out whereas four are buried with their head part inside and legs and abdomen cavity is outside. Beside these, two persons out of whom one is made to lay down on the platform in sleeping and other in sitting posture. The whole scene is d of the ferocious massacre that took place in the history. As per the local tradition, prevailed in Zarme and Cranzol, the villager by mistake slaughtered innocent youths thinking thieves. When the parents of these youths came to Zarme, they realized about the tragedy. The villagers felt uneasy about the crime committed by them so to appease the souls of slaughtered youths, the tradition of Chorotsav have started in both villages. In Zarme, immediately after the Chorotsav is over, the folk artists present the folk drama Ranmale and in Caranzol this performance is held on the previous day. The Ranmale Folk drama depicts humour, wit, spiritualism as well as the tragic incident of the hoary past. During the Shigmo, performance of the Ranmale is a part of ritual and hence the tradition is prevailed till this date.
Today the custom of Sati is declared as the evil practice as it was cruel and against humanity. But in spite of this even nowadays there is feeling of respect prevail in many parts of Sattari, Bicholim and Sanguem which is expressed through the festival of Karvalyo. Two young boys are dressed like married women and are taken in the procession on the tune of folk music from house to house. They are welcomed and worshipped by the married women having husbands. The folksongs called ‘Sakarat’ are sung on the tune of folk musical instruments reflect the mythological stories related with the Sati Women of the village for two days and nights the celebration of the Karvalyo festival is observed with the utmost devotion and respect.
Predominantly in many villages of Sattari and Bicholim and few villages of Pernem and Sanguem, the Ghodemodni festival is celebrated which remember about the heroic deeds and warfare fought in the past. The Ghodemodni of Thane-Dongurli of Sattari is the biggest performance of Ghodemodni in which 14 horses are participated.There are twin shrines of Kolgiro and Mundalgiro which are honoured by the devotees coming from various parts of Sattari.
According to the cultural historian of Goa late Anant Dhume two sculptures of Kolgiro and Mundalgiro are related with two leaders of Maratha community who were responsible for wiping out totally two tribal communities namely Kol and Mundari who were supposed to be the earliest settlers of the land. In all seven villages of Ivrem Khurd, Ivrem Budruk, Charavne, Rive, Golauli, Pali and Thane even today the Marathas are dominant. In order to show the gratitude to their leaders horses of the Ghodemodni from these villages comes on the ground entitled as Mundalgiryache mol. When all 14 horses are meeting and performing the ritualistic dance it seem that the warriors of the yore appear to wage the battle.
In Ghodemodni, wooden effigies of horses are made and persons dressed in the white robe holding a naked sword in the hand perform dance as if he is riding a horse.
During the medieval period, study and hardworking youths were taking part in the warfare to maintain the honour of community to safeguard the border or to make the expansion and consolidation of their territory. In order to receive the tradition of warfare this folk dance continued to be perform in the villages dominated by the Marathas.
Shigmo is not only celebrated as the festival of fun and merriment but also to observe various rituals to express thankfulness for the unseen spirits, ghosts of the village. The troupe of folk artists on the tune of dhol, taso and kasale pay visits the shrines, sacred trees associated with the unseen spirits. Every year many villages perform Gade Utsav in the honour of spiritual ghosts. In Pilgao and Gavane Gade Utsav is celebrated from the midnight to the afternoon whereas in Borde, Kudne and Sal it is observed for three consecutive nights.
The person dressed in the white dhoti on the tune of dhol visit the sacred shrines situated inside the forest and also go in the crematorium to bring the remnants of the dead or the materials lying their of funeral rites. It is believed in Sal of Bicholim that Holi Spirit lights the magical torch and take the Gades inside the forest. They hide some of the Gades on the sacred tree or inside the top floor of the temple. This hides and seek phenomenon is believed to be monitored by the Holy Spirits for three nights. Hundreds of peoples from various parts of Goa and other areas from outside Goa come to witness this ceremony.
Mallikarjun temple of Shristhal from Canacona is one of the important centres for devotees from Goa and Karnataka to take part in the Shigmo festival. Every nate year this temple celebrate an unique ceremony called Shishiranni, where in three persons called Gades are make to sleep in the Rajangan and on their three heads a clay pot is kept and rice is cooked. When this ritual is going six insignias (Tarangas) stand erect without any support. Folk artists play music and mysterious atmosphere. Next year temple will observe Veeramel in which participants will perform marshal dance by making injury to their body with swords on the tune of folk music.
Fatorpa of Quepem, has Shantadurga Cuncolicarin temple which is famous for the festival of Satryos. During the Portuguese regime Shantadurga use to come in procession from Fatorpa to Cuncolim every year on the 20th day of the Falgun. In this procession along with the Hindus, the Christians converts were holding umbrellas in honour of the deity. But this was forbidden by the government at the request of the Patriarch D. Antonio Sebastiao valente. However it was re-established as soon as the Portuguese republic was set up and nowadays both the communities forgetting their religious differences participate in the festival with a lot of happiness and zeal.
On the day of Falgun Chaturdashi (14th day after new moon day) various troupes of folk artists called Romtamel from villages of Madkai, Keri, Savoivere, Bhom- Adcona, Priol, Kunkalaye, Kundai and Mangeshi comes to Mardol to express their respect for goddess Mhalsa. This deity originally brought from Verna and was a much feared deity when the decisive oaths where prevalent in Goa from 1532.
In Pernem Shigmo festival involves many communities. For five or seven days folk artists visits house to house and perform folk dances on beats of dhol, taso and kasale. They sing folk songs which reflect rich knowledge of ecology and environment.
In Mahamaya temple of Borde, Bicholim on the concluding day of Shigmo of performance of Virbhadra is presented. Virbhadra holding two swords in his hands perform this war dance which shows clear influence of Karnataka style of Folk dance. In some villages, the heap of wooden logs is set on fire and devotees walk on burning charcoal.
Shigmo festival is the most colourful event among all the festivals of Goa. There is no uniformity in the rites rituals songs dances Talgadi Tonyamel, Goff, are the folk dances mainly found among the tribals of Canacona, Sanguem and Quepem. In Sarvon of Bicholim, youths perform a folk dance called Morula in which they depict behavioural patterns of peacock. The Velip community of Cotigao for about two weeks leaves their residential houses in the villages and stay on the top of the hill near to the sacred grove called Deva dano in the company of nature eating only vegetarian food and drinking pure water of springs and wells. The Dhangar Gouly community on the day of Holy Pournima burn dried cow dung during the night and sing the melodious folk songs in the beats of Ghumat.
Karvalyo- respect to the womanhood
Though the women have had suffered subjugation, she is respected as the mother in the Goan Society since she posses the unique ability of procreation. The festival of Karvalyo which has formed the integral part of Shigmo from Sattari, Bicholim and border areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka, reflect the feeling of respect for the womanhood.
Like, other parts of India, the Goan woman was also confined to the four walls of her house and was dependent first on the father, then the husband and lastly the son, for sustenance. But, in spite of this she is respected as the goddess.
In many villages of Sattari, Bicholim, during the Shigmo, the festival of Karvalyo command great respect from the married women. They are very happy to welcome the Karvalyo and worship them by first washing their feet.
Karvalyo are the two male persons between 10 to 12 years of age who are dressed in the female attire with the sarees and ornaments. Their head are decorated with the flowers of crossandra.
Mostly on the third or the fourth day of Holi Pournima, the festival of Karvalyo is held. The two males are dressed in the temple and then they are made to sit on the shoulders and taken various places in the procession.
A group of folk artists continuously beat the dhol, taso and kasale and sings folksongs called ‘Sakarat’. These songs make the description of the village environment and mythological stories associated with the deity. The songs also throw light on the bond of relationship existing between the deity and Karvalyo.
In Nanoda village from Latambarce of Bicholim, two Karvalyo represent Sateri and Kelbai goddesses. Their arrival in the house is considered to bring good fortune.
The Karvalyo festival is said to be related with the practice of Sati which was prevalent in Goa. During the sixteenth century Alfonso de Albuquerque, Constantino de Braganza discouraged the evil practice of Sati. However, unofficially, the Sati continued in Goa.
After the death of husband when the wife jumped in to burning pyre of husband, it is regarded as holy and deceased woman is elevated to the respectable status in the society. Thus, during the Shigmo the sati is shown gratitude by celebrating the festival of Karvalyo, in whole of Sattari and Bicholim.
Once Keri, was village which was famous for sati festival during the Shigmo. As per the local tradition when Lakhamo Gawas was killed by a wild boar during the community hunting, his wife self immolised herself and became Sati. There is a shrine established in Keri in honour of this lady which is known as Kalasati. Every year a married woman having husband was given a bath of ignited charcoal to mark the occasion. Two boys dressed like Karvalyo were taken into procession. Presently, Keri does not celebrate the Shigmo and hence the Sati Utsav is also not observed.
In Sanguem near Tambdi surla there is a hamlet called Dharge which is famous for the Sati Utsav. In the border areas of Maharashtra villages like Matne, Ambadgaon, Aai and in Karnataka village like Chorla celebrate Karvalyo.
Continuously for two days and nights the celebration of Karvalyo goes on attracting all the members of family in the house. The festival of Karvalyo was once become immortal through singing of folk songs depicting rich history and sociology which is today becoming rare day by day.
Ashadi Pournima – A festival of expressing gratitude
The most of all the full moon days of the year are considered important in the cultural and religious context by the Indians. This tradition is also common among the Goan Hindus irrespective of the caste and tribes. The Ashadi Pournima is being observed in many parts of India as the Guru Pournima.
The sage Vyas, the composer of the well known all time great Indian epic Mahabharat was believed to be born on this day. The Bhagwat Gita, the fountain head of knowledge was evolved out of the Mahabharat and hence Vyasmuni is considered as the greatest teacher who made profound contribution to the mankind through his philosophical thoughts. His birthday is being observed as the Guru Pournima in Goa. It marks the expression of the utmost gratitude of the disciple to his Guru or teacher who guides him from the darkness of ignorance to the light.
Traditionally to pay respect to the teacher, students consider it as their duty to visit the house or school where their teacher is imparting knowledge and worship him or her whole heartedly. Throughout Goa various cultural and religious programmes are organized in the premises of the temples, schools.
Sanguem, Quepem and Cancona talukas of North Goa has the significant population of the Velip tribal community. They celebrate this day as the Ashadi Punav which marks the use of Karmal or Dillenia Pentagyna leaves for the religious and other domestic purposes. No person belonging to Velip community will make use of the Karmal leaves unless and until they offer a special dish called ‘payas’ prepared from cooking the Dal, rice, jaggery and copra together is offered on these leaves to the folk deity
During the evening of same day they make sacrifice of a cock and mixes boiled rice with the blood of this cock. This is known as choru and is thrown in different directions of the village border. They also perform the worship of ‘Gharvai Purus’ considerd to be the ancestor of the community. In the past the members of the community never used to forget to return home on this auspicious day to observe the feast of Ashadi Punav. This festival reflects the love of the community for the ecology and making its use for the sustainable livelihood.
THE FESTIVAL OF ASHADHI EKADASHI
The festival of Ashadhi Ekadashi combines joy and devotion with the ecstasy. Shri Vithala, a form of lord Vishnu is the most popular deity of the Western Deccan who encompasses various castes, communities through the spirit of fraternity. In Goa, this day has special significance among the Hindus who considered it as the auspicious to visit the temple of Shri Vithal of Sanquelim regarded as Pandharpur of Goa.
Every year two pilgrimages of the Warkari believers a form of Bhakti cult goes to Pandharpur, in Maharashtra the main centre of Shri Vithala worship. The first pilgrimage is organized on the eleventh day of the waxing moon in the Ashadha (July) and the second on the Kartika (October – November) months of the Hindu calendar. The Ashadha is one of the important months of the rainy season; when the agricultural communities are busy in their work. But they take immense interest to visit the temple of Shri Vithala and observe fasting for half day and to eat the special vegetarian food consisting of sweet dishes like -Mangane, Mugakann. The tradition of singing a variety of devotional songs composed by the saints of Warkari believers,has it’s roots in the cult of Shri Vithala worship. On the day of Ashadhi Ekadashi singing of Bhajan attains importance with enthusiastic chanting of ‘Pundalika Var de Hari Vithala’ at the regular interval.
There are many shrines in various parts of Goa dedicated to Shri Vithal. However the Vithal temple of Sanquelim is the most noteworthy and has rich history. The earliest reference to God Vithal of this temple is found in the grant of 1488 A.D. made by Jaitaji, Dipaji and Satraoji Rane for the worship of the God at Vithalapur. This temple a specimen of the Northern temple architecture of Goa and was reconstructed by the Raja of Gawalior who was married with Salubai, a daughter of Rane Sardesai of Sanquelim.
According to Laxman Pitre, the former Director of Museum, in 1492 idols of Shri Vithal and other deities were there in Bhimgad of Karnataka and from there they were brought to Morle in 1438. After the period of 14 years, they were brought to Padoshe of Poriem and from here to present place. Ramchandra Gaokar, a folklorist and devotees of Shri Vithal from Morle – Sattari has told that as per the legend it was the utmost devotion of Vataba Dulba Rane Morlekar brought Shri Vithal of Pandharpur to Sanquelim and hence the Rane family of Ghodemol – Morle perform the worship on all festive occasions of the old deity less shrine which is lying in Morle.
On this festive occasion, Shri Vithal temple attracts a large crowd of devotees who comes to spend their time in invoking the blessings of the lord. They offer a garland of basil plant leaves locally known as the Tulshimal to Shri Vithal and his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama. The special programmes of Bhajan, Kirtan and other religious rituals are organized from the dawn till the mid-night. Shri Vithal temple Committee has taken a revolutionary decision of throwing the doors of the temple’s Garbhagraha sanctum open to the devotees belonging to all castes and creeds to perform pooja on the occasions of Ashadhi and Kartik Ekadashi.
Chavath- A cult of Nature Worship
The chavath is the most enchanting among all the festivals of Goan Hindus which unites a large number of people together forgetting their sorrows and sufferings of the day today life.
Lord Ganesh is the anthropomorphic form of the Asian Elephant who is worshipped as the remover of all hurdles on ones path. It is believed through the ages that he gives progeny to the childless, knowledge to the seeker and prosperity to those who desire material gains.
Every aspect of Ganesh has a meaning. His corpulence reminds us that outward appearance has nothing to do with inner beauty. His huge body symbolizes the universe. The elephant represents intelligence where as the snake around his waist represents cosmic energy.
His trunk is curved to make up the symbol Om in Devanagari and other Indian scripts. As Goa lies in the lap of the Western Ghats, agriculture is there since the Neolithic age. The most of important pre-Portuguese Ganesh temples of Goa were situated mainly in the areas where agriculture was prospered. The farming communities toiling hard in these areas worshipped Ganesh to express gratitude to the mother earth. Parvati is the earth holding parvat or hills and Mahadev mean Girish who symbolizes hills.
During the rainy season, the silt from the hills come down and settles to make the soil fertile. The farmers were reaping good crop. The tradition of worshipping Ganesh begins by making the clay idols of elephant-headed god.
The Bhadrapad, the sixth month of Hindu calendar exhibits variety facets of Goa’s rich bio-diversity. Some of the rare wild flowers, fruits, roots, shoots, leaves which are available in the forested areas are essential for worshipping this God who represents the Mother Nature. The canopy over the head of Ganesh is decorated with the seasonal elements of biodiversity.
The farming communities tie the ears of paddy either to the entrance of the house or to the canopy, since Ganesh is the deity related with the agriculture and biodiversity. In the past the wild elephants, were destroying the paddy fields. The rat also causes severe losses to paddy. Thus farming communities worship elephant headed God and rat as his mount to get protection to agriculture.
Various taboos, customs observed during the chavath clearly indicate relationship of Ganesh with the cult of nature worship.

Chavath : a rightful occasion for the fugdi
Ganesh Chaturthi or Chavath as it is widely popular in Goa and Konkan is the most rightful occasion for the folk performances of the fugdi.
The fugdi is one of the popular folkdances of the women community of Goa and Konkan. Goa has a rich and varied tradition of the fugdi.
Though, the fugdi is performed on the occasion of the eco-ferministic festivals of Dhalo, Dhillo, Katyo and during the Dasara only among the Dhangar – gouly, the charm and excitement which one can see during the chavath has no comparison.
The fugdi performances throughout Goa and Konkan are not uniform. They vary as per the castes and tribes. The folksongs, styles of presentation, patterns of dancing are varied and colouful.
The Dhanagar-gouly women do not clap while performing the fugdi whereas among all other communities, clapping is predominant.
Among the Brahmin women, a type of Kalshi fugdi is performed holding a pitcher in hands and blows inside it with the repeated sound of fu… fu… fu… during the Mahalaxmi pooja. No folksong is sung.
The Kalasi fugdi of the tribal Velip is accompanied by the folksong and was once performed mainly while irrigating garden of vegetables. Once there were more then hundred types of fugdi performed, but today one can see only few types are popular due to lack of knowledge and fast fading tradition of the fugdi.
Among the Kunbi Christian community there was fugdi tradition prevailed during the Dhalo. However, now days it is found among the few groups.
Amalia Dias from Cothambi – Quepem is initiating a group which is still performing variety of fugdi performances.
In Goa, male community has dominated most of the folk performances where the women have a meager opportunity to participate in the folk festival with the exception of fugdi and Dhalo.
There are Ekahatachi, Bas, Nisar, Chakra, types of fugdi. Women imitate dancing patterns of peacock in Morulo; depict the behaviour of tortoise in Kasav fugdi. The Dhangar-gouly women in their Zemado show the gestures of a buffalo.
The songs of fugdi are mainly based on mythological stories from Ramayan and Mahabharat. In Pernem a typical Zindoli fugdi is performed in which a folk song narrate brave deeds of lord Rama or lord Krishna. In some areas songs elaborating on the birth of Ganapati are specially sung along with the fugdi.
Timely boost up provided by the Directorate of Art and Culture, and Kala Academy and Rajiv Kala Mandir have helped in reviving the tradition of fugdi. Young girls are taking interest in fugdi mainly due to the competitions.
In Sattari women used to sing the unique Dhavalimanichi geeta. Early in the morning they awake lord Ganapati by singing songs on the tune of Dhavali, a spoon utensil made with the coconut bowl and bamboo stick and maan, a wooden pot used for kneading bhakri of millets sitting on the floor, the women used to sing these melodious songs and transform the atmosphere.
The Bhajan and Aarati of Chavath
For the Ghumat Aarati, various devotional Marathi songs composed by the saint poets are sung by the folk artists on the tune of music composed by using the folk instruments like Ghumat, Shamel and Kasale. The Ghumat, is an earthen pot having two mouths, out of which the bigger one is covered with monitor lizard skin and other narrow one is kept open. Shamel is an accompanying instrument of Ghumat whose base is carved out of Khair wood. Its upper part of base is covered with the skin of she-goat. It is played with two thin sticks of bamboo. Kasale are two big gongs made of bronze and are used for rhythmic purpose when Ghumat and Shamel two percussion instruments are played during the presentation of prayers and other devotional songs. In some parts of Goa for the presentation of Bhajan and Aarati, Tabla, Harmonium and Tal, a pair of small metallic cymbals are used.
The Bhajan tradition of Goa is very rich and the Chavath is the best festive occasion which highlights extra ordinary potential skills of the Goan artists. Late Manoharbuva Shirgaonkar was one of the pioneering artists of the Bhajan tradition who brought laurels to this art form through his immense contribution.
Aarati – expression of utmost devotion
Days of chavath in Goa are marked by the performances of singing Aarati a type of eulogy composed by the saint to praise the noble deeds of the deity.
It is a unique religious music which includes the singing in the praise of the deity on accompaniment of instrumental music before the deity. Through out Goa where the chavath is celebrated, the men as well as the women jointly sit in front of the deity and sing loudly the Aarati on the tune of the music d by the musical instruments and in its absence even on the sound of clapping.
During the chavath celebration presentation of the Aarati is considered as the most auspicious as well as essential. From Pernem to Canacona devotees sings ‘Sukhkarta Dukh harta’ Aarti which is composed by the 17th century Marathi saint Ramdas followed by Lord Shankar, Durga and few other deities.
For the Ghumat Aarti, the performers make use of the musical instruments of Ghumat, an earthen pot with the mouth tied up with the skin of monitor lizard. Shamel, a wooden instrument with the mouth tied up with the goat skin and Kasale, a pair of brass gongs.
Singing style and playing musical instruments vary from place to place. The participants experience a trance like situation while performing the Aarati. In the concluding session of the Aarati participants urge the deity to bestow the blessings for the prosperity and happiness of all by waiving a lamp of five wicks.
It is difficult to tell actually when the festivals of chavath have begun in Goa. But it is the certain that this festival has its root in the pre-Portuguese era in Goa. According to the eminent scholars, Ganapati is one of the non-Aryan deities which absorbed into the Aryan fold, and the character of Ganapati got changed. He became auspicious and symbol of benevolent entity. According to late Dr. V. R. Mitragotri – the early images of Ganesh in Goa may have been carved during the rule of Badami Chalukyas.
Redi, a small village of Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra bordering Goa was known earlier as Revatidvip, the regional capital of the Badmi Chalukyas on the west coast and Goa was a part of it. The huge sculpture of Ganesha which was chiseled in a laterite cave belonged to c. 600-700 A.D. As the devotees have plastered this sculpture and have transformed the cave into a concrete structure, it has lost the original features. The stone sculptures of sitting Ganesha with only two arms are belonged to the ancient period have been discovered at the old site of Curdi, at Kudneshwar temple of Kudne and Saptakoteshwar temple of Narve, both of Bicholim and one sculpture is in the collection of Pilar Seminary Museum.
The four armed stone sculptures of Ganesh have been discovered at Korgao (Pernem), Vichundre (Sanguem), Chandreshwar (Quepem) and Shiroda (Ponda) also throw light on the tradition of Ganesh worship prevalent in Goa. The largest temple of Ganapati was built at Naveli Divar of Tiswadi in a Kadamba architectural style which was destroyed during the sixteenth century by the Portuguese. This temple was first transferred to Narve of Bicholim and then it was there for some period in Khandepar. Finally, the temple was brought to Khandola of Ponda taluka. Mahaganapati Sansthan of Khandola had witnessed extraordinary struggles staged by the devotees to establish the safe abode for their deity. Today this temple complex is situated inside beautiful natural surrounding with the indigenous species of trees, coconut plantation and paddy fields. The area is also rich in the perennial sources of water.
Dr. Nandkumar Kamat says, “During the 4-5th century Gupta period Ganapati worship reached shores of Goa. Almost all the pre-Portuguese Ganapati temples and idols of Goa are found in rice-growing farming villages like Carambolim, Chorao, Ella, Olaulim, Pamburpa, Sangolda, Siolim, Betalbhatim, Cuelim”.
Once upon a time, Goa was agricultural state where a large number of people were involved in agricultural activities. It was the backbone of the economy. But today, our government and society have miserably failed to boost up the agriculture. Mining and tourism activities are increasing their hold in various parts of Goa and raising hurdles in the path of agricultural development. Ganapati is the deity related with the agriculture and that is why the agricultural communities began to worship this deity to express their gratitude to the god of agriculture with the expectation that the lord would grant the blessing and they would get better yield. Now the wave of materialism has eroded many of our values and ideals which were cherished by the forefathers. The tradition of Ganapati worship has assumed different dimensions today and is encircled by the forces of consumerism. There is earnest need to revive the ecological dimensions prevailing in the Goan society.
MATOLI ; The finest exhibition of the Seasonal Biodiversity
In Goa, the Ganesh Chaturthi or Chavath and the tradition of Matoli are synonymous. The Matoli is a decorative canopy suspended over the head of Ganapati in the most of all Goan Hindu houses during the festival of the Chavath. It is indeed an excellent exhibition of the seasonal biodiversity which transmit the traditional knowledge of local flora from one generation to another. This tradition gradually was fading away from the Goan society. However, as it was one of the unavoidable traditions of decorating the wooden canopy over the head of Ganapati. In the past the Goans were going into the forested areas to collect various types of wild flowers, fruits, creepers, roots, shoots. The elder in the family were escorting with them helping to identify varied elements of flora.
The tradition of Matoli is one of the unique features of Goa’s Chavath which is responsible for developing love for the biodiversity of the local area. The Hindu month of Bhadrapad which comes in the monsoon actually witnesses plentiful growth along with flowering and fruiting. All this bounty is the gift of the mother nature to human being and hence offering of all these is made by decorating the Matoli in the utmost reverence to Ganapati who represent the mother earth. In decorating the Matoli not only medicinally and economically useful fruits, flowers, roots, shoots are used but also poisonous. Through this tradition the people were familiar with the ethnobotony. But today with the entrance of materialism and commercialization old values are fast fading away.
Earlier, there was a satisfactory forest cover in and around Ponda but now the urbanization have already reached in remote hamlets and are destroying the biodiversity of the local at the rapid rate. In order to collect requirement of the Matoli, a large number of People are relied on the markets. The people visit special markets orgasnised before the Chavath at Banastari, Sankhali, Banda, Dodamarg, Mapusa and other places.
The fruits like mango, jackfruit, jambhul, cashew nut are not available during this season. But there are some enthusiastic youths who try their level best to bring these fruits, flowers for adding more colour and excitement to their Matoli which bring them appreciation from the nature lovers.
Instead of exploiting natural resources ruthlessly and indecently, if we take the care to protect them, we will see them for the posterity. Otherwise we will loose that natural heritage forever.
Varied traditions of Chavath
Unity in diversity is the main hallmark of the Indian culture and the small state of Goa is not exception to it. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi or Chavath is the main festival of the Goan Hindus which is celebrated with the pomp and excitement. From Pernem to Cancona there are a lot of variations in the celebration of Chavath. The diversity which is prevailed in various parts of Goa is deeply rooted in the traditions, some times tells us about the rich history associated with it. All these traditions are not always based on scientific temperament but rather relied on the faith and feelings of the people from various generations. The people follow them as they are transferred by their forefathers.
In the most places of Goa, there is a tradition of worshiping the clay idol of Ganapati for one and half or five days. Immediately after Goa’s liberation the tradition of Sarvajanik Ganeshostav has begun from urban to rural areas. Many of these places have celebration of Ganeshostav till the day of Anant Chaturdashi. However, Parra village of Bardez celebrates Sarvajanik Ganeshostav for twenty-one days with a variety of entertainment, educative, informative programmes.
At some places in Ponda devotees do not worship any clay idol of Ganapati rather they draw a picture of Ganapati on the plain paper and then worship it. Actually this practice was evolved during the Portuguese regime when the stringent restrictions were put on the Goan Hindus and they were not allowed to worship any idol. Inside the house, closing all the doors and windows they were worshiping the picture drawn on the paper in the concealed manner. Though Goa is liberated from yoke of the Portuguese rule, the tradition is still continued.
Adpoi village from Phonda is well known over Goa for the unique tradition of Chavath celebration. In Adpoi the main celebration is continued among the twelve families. For five days members of families scattered in various parts of Goa come to Adpoi and jointly celebrate the festival. When a new child is born before a week, in the family, in many parts of Goa there is a taboo which prevents the celebration of the festival. But this taboo does not stop the festive mood of Chavath of Adpoikar. The whole villages uniformly every year celebrate Chavath for the five days. On the third day, Adpoikars stage the scenes in their houses on various themes depicting the Indian values, religious and cultural beliefs, which attract the people from other parts of Goa. The last day is marked with processions with tableaux of various scenes which are leading to the bank of Zuari river where immersion ceremony take place. In the Adpoi village individual family hardly celebrates Chavath rather they give importance to the collective celebration of the festival. This is the most unique tradition this village which bring many members together and encourage among the villagers time spirit of unity and harmonious living.
In Cancona, members of Kindalkars from Ponsulem, Kindlem, Patnem and Agonda do not celebrate Chavath. It is said that twelve members of Kindalkars went in to the dense jungle to collect wild flowers, leaves, fruits and other requirements of Matoli. After collection of these items due to an apparent miscount they counted only eleven persons instead of twelve assuming that one of them was eaten by a tiger. This led to the entire, Desai community of Kindalkars not celebrating Chavath.
“The Saraswat Prabhu Gaonkar community of Mahalwada Poinguinim does not worship the clay idol but instead worship only Patri, a collection of wild leaves brought from the jungle”, says Mahendra Ramchandra Phaldesai, a well known folklorist from Cancona. Adding further he mentioned, “The third day of Bhadrapad is observed as ‘Tay’ where the Saraswat community worship a joint picture of the lord Shiva and Parvati on the paper and on the Chaturthi and Panchami they worship the clay idol of Ganapati”.
Some families of Tudal Gaondongri celebrate Chavath for three days only, where in for the first, one and half day they hide the idol under a winnowing item and then worship it for remaining days. Last day they make offering of chicken.
Oxel-Bhati from Sivolim at Ramtariwada all the families of fisher folk communities worship the clay idols of Shiva-Parvati jointly. They do not worship Ganapati idol at all during the Chavath celebration, in their hamlet, for the unknown reason.
Goa government has put ban legally on the use of plaster of Paris idol of Ganapati, since these idols are hazardous to the environment. However, the Vaidya community from Vaizawado of Vaje-Shiroda does not worship the clay or plaster of Paris idol. They worship wooden idol of Ganapati for one and half days which is afterward immersed in the water for some time and then it is brought back and kept inside the sanctum sanctorum of the house safely to be worshipped next year. This wooden idol is hundred years old, which is safeguarded by Vaidya family because idol handed over to this family from generations.
Eco-friendly Ganesh worship in Khandepar
Khandepar village from Ponda taluka situated on the bank of Mhadei River has an environment friendly tradition of worshipping the idol of Ganapati. Ganapati actually represents the mother earth. The agricultural communities working hard in the Soil, earlier had the tradition of worshipping the idol made from the clay locally available and painting it with the organic colours.
In Khandepar, seven families of Khandeparkar have the tradition of worshipping Ganesh idol made from decomposed and smashed paper. Vinay Sinai Khandeparkar 55 years of age from Khandepar says, “The religious persecution initiated by the Portuguese rulers in various parts of Goa put restrictions on celebration of Chavath. Our fore fathers followed the tradition of worshipping the paper Ganesh inside the house in the concealed manner.”
As the Goan in the sixteenth century were not allowed to worship the idol of Ganapati publicly, there was no other way except to worship the idol hiding from the Portuguese officials. They have continued the old tradition. Every year they worship the idol of Ganapati made from papers for one and half days even after the liberation of Goa from the yoke of Portuguese regime. The idol of Ganapati used for worshipping of this family not immersed either in the river or in the well.
Natekar families residing at Usgao-Barazan junction provide the unique idol of Ganapati every year to Khandeparkar families. The smashed, decomposed paper put into the mould and the idol is painted afterward. There are seven families of Khandeparkar who are following this long cherished tradition of their family. For them Ganapati is the family deity and hence they have to worship the idol only for one and half days. They do not celebrate the festival of Diwali like other Goans as the idol of Ganapati from the temple of Khandepar was taken away on the day of Narak Chaturdashi. Ganesh worshipped in the temple of Khandola is considered to be the family deity of all Khandeparkar families of Khandepar
Ganesh, Ganesh,as per the mythology is regarded as the son of Shiva and Parvarti. There are many versions which throw light on the birth of Ganesh. One such story tells that Ganesh, at birth was a normal child. However, it was the look of Shani (Saturn) that was responsible for damaging the head of the child. Servants of shiva went and brought cutting off the elephants head which was fixed on the body of the child.
Divaja : a festival of lighting lamps
Goa is the land of fairs and festivals which depicts the vivid and colorful cultural heritage. Throughout the year, Goa has celebrations either with the Hindu or with the Christian community which depict the unique culture.
The eighth month of the Hindu calendar is full with celebrations of Jatra and Kalotsav wherein the village deity is transformed into festivity.
The Jatra is the annual fair associated with the deity in a particular village in which not only the Mahajans or committee members of the temples are involved but the members of the other communities residing in the village take participation whole heartedly.
A devotee residing in any corner of Goa or other parts make it a point to come to his or her village on the occasion of the Jatra to express the gratitude as well as solidarity.
For pursuing the job to earn the daily bread and butter, a person lives out of the village but for the annual fairs and festivals, he does not forget to return the village without fail.
Most of the families pay visit on the occasion of the annual Jatra associated with the main village deity not only to pay the respect to the deity but it is the occasion when relatives, friends meets and enhances the happiness by exchanging greetings for each others.
The new conquests which include the provinces of Pernem, Sattari, Bicholim, Sanguem, Ponda, Quepem and Canacona come into the Portuguese possession much later. It is due to this that they, for long period served as a shelter for the Hindus of the old conquest who where faced to abandon their villages and run away with their deities to these parts, where these deities and their temples can be found.
Mulgao village at Bicholim has more than 50 big and small temples associated with the villages of Pomburpa, Moira, Serula and also of the village. Due to this, for 2-3 months Mulgao is transformed into celebrations of jatra.
The thirteenth day of the first half of the Kartik marks the annual fair celebration of the temple of Malkajan in Gaodongri of Canacona, which is regarded as the first fair of the season of Goa and marks the onset of season of Kalo or Jatra.
In the wee hour the devotees worship the two pillars near the temple namely the Katyakhamb and Ranakhamp in Gaodongri which is followed by the Gavalan kalo in the temple premises in the morning wherein the folk artists perform the traditional drama depicting the childhood of Lord Shri Krishna on the tune of music.
The second half of the Kartik has number of Jatras. Dhargal has celebrated Kalbhairav jatra. Madkai has the temple of Navdurga who is the presiding deity of the village. On the eighth day of the second half of Kartik, Madkai from morning becomes one with the jatra. The married women visit the temple and make offerings of coconut, rice and the cloth to the deity along with the flowers, kumkum paste.
Devotees in a large number from surrounding areas throng to Madkai to witness the special performance of drama and bhajan which is marked by the singing of devotional songs composed by the Marathi saints.
On the second day, the goddess Navdurga is seated in a decorated chariot and through procession she made visit to different areas of the village. All the seven wards of Madkai experience a lot of excitement and happiness on the occasion of the Jatra. All relish on the special vegetarian food items with the sweet dishes.
The uniqueness of this jatra is the fishes of different varieties are kept for the sale. Villagers’ purchases these fishes. No where in Goa, fishes are sold on the occasion of the Jatra except Madkai. The indigenous varieties of fishes like Chonkul, Shevte, Shangata, Wagole are sold in Madkai. As soon as the jatra is over, in afternoon villagers enjoys traditional diet of fish, curry and rice.
Madkai jatra is followed by the jatra of Amone’s Mahalaxmi-Ravalnath, Adcon’s Navdurga, Kavale’s Kapileshwari, Savaivere’s Anant in Ponda and Mulgao’s Ravalnath in Bicholim taluka.
Most of all the villages in Goa celebrate the festivals of Dussera in the sixth month of Ashwin whereas in Amona the temple of Betal celebrates it on the thirteenth day of the second half of the Kartik. The insignias of Betal are taken in the procession in which whole village is involved.
Fifteenth day of the second half of Kartik is known as Darsh Somavati Amavasya one of the darkest nights of the year. In many parts of the Goa, it is the day marked by ‘Divajanchi Jatra’ in which married women having husbands observe fasting and light Divaja, a traditional lamp with five wicks and waive it first to the presiding deity of the village along with other women.
A woman considers it as an auspicious and honourable task to light Divaja. She prays for happy, healthy and long life for her husband. Coparde, a village 3km away from Valpoi town celebrate Divaja Jatra which is well known all over Goa and attract a large crowd. On the day of Divaja, the temple of Brahmani Maya is transformed into jubilant mood. Devotees visits goddess and pray for blessings.
More than 12 villages in Goa, ceremoniously celebrate Divaja Jatra on 16 November. The temples premises will be illuminated with lamps were as at the mid-night the temple hall will be full with women waiving the Divaja.
At Kudtarkarin Mahamaya temple of Loliye -Canacona women makes a unique Divaja on there hands by using ‘Nivalkani’ (a type of cactus). In other parts of Goa earthen or bronze Divajas are used in the festival.
The immensely rich cultural heritage of the region is a valuable repository, which will continue to reveal newer layer of the past through the Jatras for ages to come. The Jatra is one of the mega cultural events which show not only traditions but aim by our forefathers for boosting up of the spirit of unity and solidarity of the village.
In many Hindu dominated villages of Goa, there is a feministic tradition of lighting lamps collectively. Lighting of lamps in most of all Civilizations indicates heralding of goodness. Divaj is a bunch of five lamps made of terracotta which is lighted in the annual fair of the village deity locally known as “Divajachi Jatra”
Many of the villages of Sattari, Bicholim, Pernem have the tradition of Divajachi Jatra on the Occasion of new moon day of Kartik, eighth month of the Hindu Calendar or on the first day of Margshirsh, the ninth month. Like all the Indian women, the Goan women to pay utmost respect to their husbands as the gods. For the blessing of longitivity to their husbands, they waive the Divaj in front of the village deity.
In Gaodongari of Canacona, there is on ancient temple of Malikajan which attracts a large crowd of the tribal Velip Community on the occasion of Divajachi Jatra held after the Shigmo festival. The unmarried girls and married women light the Divaj doing the day time on the tune of folk musical instruments.
In Amona of Quepem, Bori of Phonda among some communities, the unmarried girls before attaining the puberty light the Divaj. These girls are dressed in new robe and are decorated with the golden ornaments like a bride. In the past no marriage ceremony was held before lighting the Divaj. These girls were accompanied by their maternal uncle. The coconut oil was used for lighting the Divaj Unused oil was considered as holy and was distributed to the women in the neighbourhoods.
Earlier these Divajs were made only of terracotta but nowadays they are replaced by brass, steel or silver. This Divaj or lamp has wicks, one on top and four wicks surrounding it. In some villages, the palkhi of the deity is taken out for the procession which is followed by the women holding Divaj. They put five rounds around the temple. At least for two hours, they have to keep the Divaj continuously lighting. If the wicks extinguish off it is regarded to be a bad women.
In Mulgao of Bicholim only ten women belonging to Gad, Parab, Raut and Mest families light the Divaj in front of goddess Sateri. By putting five rounds first around Sateri temple, they go to pay respect to Nitkari Puravachari. They make offerings of parboiled Damgo rice to the deities. This cooked foot is distributed to all the devotees. In Mulgao, villagers first light the lamp post to mark the occasion and then women light the Divaj. A member of Gad family offers twelve Bhanos (copper pots) to Nitkari.
The lighting of Divaj is the tradition prevails mostly among the non-Brahmins women. In some villages women belonging to all non-Brahmin communities take part in this festival. They observe fasting and eat only fruits, tubers, roots and sweet dishes. Widows are not allowed to take part in it. Sudden death in the family or the birth of the child and the menstruation period do not allow woman to take part in the ritual.
In Kapileshwari near Phonda the women only of Dalit (mahar) community light the Divaj whereas in Valvoi this tradition is observed by the women belonged to the Vaishyas community. In Mencure of Bicholim, only three married women light Divaj in the temple of Mauli every year during the night.
The temple of Brahmanimaya of Coparde, 3km from Valpoi is well known for the Divajachi Jatra as it attract large number of devotees during the night time. A heap of cooked rice which is kept inside the temple believed to possess the blessing of snake god. After cobra roll inside the food at the mid night it is distributed to all devotees. In Coparde and also in Palye of Pernem ed women take the bath of burning Charcoal. There women observe strictly various taboos.
The Brahmin women do not take part in the Divajachi Jatra. However, they light on the twelth day of new moon night of Kartik lamp of 360 wicks. In some areas a man under the trance light the first Divaj and afterwards all women follow him. In other places, the newly married couples whose clothes are tied to each other by a knot take part in the ceremony with the hope of getting blessing of happy and prosperous family.
Diwali : the festival of hopes and aspirations
Like other parts of India, Diwali is celebrated in Goa as the festival of light which take us away from the gloom, sadness to hopes and aspirations. But, in spite of this, the people still celebrate it with the totally different traditions. No doubt, this festival is the occasion, where in the people express their utmost joy and happiness.
When a pleasant, mild, winter climate set in, the Goans hearts rejoiced to welcome Laxmi. It is said that whoever maintains a clean, neat and tidy home is blessed by a visit from Laxmi, the goddess of wealth on the occasion of Diwali.
Literally Diwali mean a row of lights. A lighted lamp is considered to be an auspicious symbol which indicates the triumph of good over evil. There are various legends related with the Diwali celebration. The most widely accepted belief is that Diwali commemorates the victory of Shrikrishna over the notorious demon king of Pragyajyotishpur, Narkasura who had imprisoned sixteen thousands women. Another legend is associated with Mahabali, the demon king who was compulsed by Vaman, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, to rule over underworld forever. He was the generous and people – oriented ruler, believed to come on the earth during Diwali. Another legend represents the home coming of Shriram after 14 years of exile, killing Ravan, the demon king of Lanka.
In the early morning of the 14th of the dark half of Ashwin, the seventh month of Hindu calendar, a huge effigy of Narkasur of dry grass stuffed with fireworks is burnt. The people participated in a large number in the procession with the effigy on the previous night. After burning Narkasur, people return home, take a scented oil bath and then crush under their feet the bitter Karit, a diminutive wild cucumber in token of killing Narkasur by chanting loudly “Govinda, Govinda”. Housewives prepare a variety of dishes from rice flakes ‘phov’ along with sweet and pungent dishes. Before taking this breakfast all the unwidowed women waive lighted lamps around the heads of the male members with the desire that god should bless the life of longevity and prosperity.
Earlier on the first day of Diwali in evening, a number of small earthen oil lamps were lit in all frontages of the house along with the colourful Akash Kandil, artistically prepared by making use of bamboo sticks and coloured papers. Nowadays, electric lights have replaced the old earthen lamps. In olden days there was no electricity, there were not even wax candles. People only had earthen oil lamps. Their light does not hurt the eyes and the potter who makes them can earn some money.
The rural women wash the big copper utensils and decorate them with the garlands of marigold flowers and Karit fruits. They also draw various designs with the lime paste on these utensils. They go to river or spring to fetch the fresh water in the pitcher and offer a betel leaf and betel nut with the lighted lamp.
The second day is marked by Laxmi Pujan, worship of the goddess of wealth. Earlier, the merchants, shopkeepers were associated with Laxmi Pujan. But, today most of all Hindu communities are worshiping images of Laxmi to get her blessings. In some villages like Cazur – Quepem, Keri, Sattari, there is a tradition of publicly worshipping clay idol of Laxmi for five days marks with a variety of cultural performances wherein all villagers are involved.
The third day is observed on first day of bright half of Kartika as Padvo or Bali Pratipada by the agricultural communities and has New Year day by those observing Vikram Samvat, one of the Hindu calendar era which is the beginning of a new financial year. Padvo once has special significance as it was the occasion in the year to express gratitude to the service rendered by cattle. Miniature cattle shed of Cow dung is made wherein Karit fruits mounted on four stick representing cattle are placed. A sweet dish made from new rice and milk called ‘Payas’ is offered after performing Pooja. It is also a day of celebration for the cattle since they are not employed to any work. They are given bath and are garlanded. They are fed on special ‘Pole’ (pancakes) in the morning. Also a garland of ‘Vade’ (pancakes) is made and tied around the neck of these cattle. When they move to grazing fields, young boys involved in cattle rearing relish on the Vade.
Many of the Gawda tribal dominated agricultural villages of Tiswadi celebrate ‘Dhenalo’ wherein an idol of Shrikrishna is put into the chariot and taken into the procession through out the village on the tune of folksongs and folk-music.
In some of the villages even the Christians involved in agriculture and cattle rearing show their honour by worshipping cattle. In some areas Sanna (steamed cake) and copra are tied around the neck of the cattle. Youths of the village by using trick daringly removes these Vade or Sannaa to relish on it. In some areas young tribal boys move from place to place carrying on their heads an idol of Shrikrishna. At every house they are offered rice, coconut and other eatables.
The fourth day of Diwali is meant to express love of sister to her brothers and is known as ‘Bhaubij.’ Goans have started celebrating Bhaubij since Liberation. Sister wave lighted lamps around brothers and offer various sweets meats. It is necessary for brothers to give her some sort of present on that time.
In Surla – Sattari from Dussera till Diwali the women folk in the night were involved in singing melodious folk songs called ‘Geeti’ to welcome the festival of lights. In front of all Goan temples there is a tall lamp – post. On the day of Diwali, in some temples this lamppost is illuminated by lighting innumerable lamps. Hanging Akash Kandil from first day of Diwali till the Kartik Pournima is considered auspicious. 14th of the dark half of Ashwin is known as ‘Dhakti Diwali’ whereas 11th of the bright half of Kartik is known as ‘Vhadali Diwali’ wherein a symbolic marriage of a Tulsi or basil plant is organized.
By transforming the darkest night into the brightest of the year – a symbol is d for the success of the light of truth over the darkness of falsehood, the victory of knowledge over ignorance through the festival of Diwali. This is the real message of Diwali, which we have to highlight.
Diwali : a festival of joy and happiness
The most of all cultures throughout world consider light as the auspicious and the symbols of happiness, life and truth. The Indian festival of Diwali heralds the rise of happiness. Diwali means row of lighted lamps.
In the past, the agriculture was the backbone of the Indian economy. The people who were happy after reaping the paddy cultivated during the rainy season, had developed the tradition of lighting lamps to express their gratitude to their ancestors and gods.
There are different legends associated with the origin of Diwali. One legend tells that the Diwali is celebrated as a remembrance of lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman after 14 years of exile. Shri Ram as the benevolent ruler gave topmost priority for well being of his subjects.
Symbolically, the selfish ego, which was entrapped all the 16,000 thought varieties, is killed and all thoughts get wedded to the one infinite – Lord Krishna.
The last Tirthankar (an initiator) of Jainism passed away means the real light got extinguished. The Jainists lit lamps in his memory.
The festival of light inspires human beings to march in the direction of truth and happiness getting away from falsehood and darkness.
Festival of Lights at Queula (Kavale)
Set amidst bountiful lush green surroundings, the temple of Shantadurga of Queula attracts a large crowd of devotees. Shantadurga means the goddess of peace. The ferocious Durga, after killing the trouble maker demons became calm in Goa. She is worshipped by the Goans as Jagadamba who according to Hindu mythology responsible for sorting out differences which occurred in between Lord Shiva and Vishnu and from then onward she is popular as Shantadurga. In bridging gap between two sects of Hinduism namely Shaivaites and Vaishnavaites, goddess Shantadurga played significant role. That is why one can see the image of Shantadurga in between Shiva and Vishnu in the temple.
Diwali is the biggest festival of lights. At the dawn of 14th day of the dark half of Ashwin month, after the burning of the effigy of demon Narkasur, devotees feel happy. Early morning the temple of Shantadurga takes festive look. It is customary that the deity is draped in rich colourful cloths and ornaments on the day of Diwali. Devotees from far and wide assemble in the temple to witness the celebration.
The unique part of the day celebration is the worship of Panchmurti wherein five golden idols of Shantadurga are worshipped. It is the only occasion in the whole of year wherein five idols of which are kept safely otherwise are removed and are draped in cloths. They are garlanded and then kept open for the darshan of the devotees. Diwali is the joyful occasion. It takes us away from darkness to light. That is why in order to express happiness from the hoary past this tradition of Panchmurti Poojan maintained.
To witness five beautifully decorated idols of the Jagadamba, one has to visit the temple during the afternoon of Diwali. In evening the Puran is read by the Brahmin in which noble deeds of goddess are praised. The Bhajan or devotional songs are sung on the tune of Harmonium and Tabla. Then the idol of deity meant for festive worship is seated in the Lalakhi. This is a large dome shaped palanquin with legs which is used only for few occasion of celebrations. The Lalakhi is taken out and moved around the temple in procession.
The Deepmala or lamppost in front of Shantagurga temple is indeed a masterpiece of architecture. To mark the Diwali celebration it is illuminated with the earthen lamps. This lamppost transform the darkest night into the brightest of the year – a symbol is d for the triumph of the light of truth over the darkness of falsehood, the victory of knowledge over ignorance, evil and wickedness, all achieved by man’s efforts.
Dhillo – depiction of cheer of tribal spinsters
From the ninth day of Dasara till Balipratipada of Diwali transform tribal spinters into joyful mood during the chilling nights of the autumn season among the forest dwelling communities of Velip in villages of Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona of South Goa.
The Velip community is included in the schedule tribe and are belonged to aboriginal. In the past, the tribal community was residing either on the hill top or in the jungle on the hill slope. The onset of autumn season from the ninth day of Dasara till Balipratipada of Diwali for twenty two days women from Velip community assemble in the night at the sacred place called Mand. There a small heap of wet and kneaded clay decorated by the flowers of marigold, is kept on a wooden niche. It is locally known as Dhillo.
Droupadi Madhu Velip, 65 years of age from Indrawada of Gaondonagari-Canacona says, “We brings only the clay of ant hill for making the Dhillo, which is then decorated with the flowers of marigold. Every after five days new clay is used for making Dhillo.”
Earlier, this eco-feministic festival was associated with the unmarried girls. They were taking part in large number and were performing varied forms of dances, songs throughout the night. Abole Gaonkar, 67 years of age from Ziltawado of Gaondongari says, “Now both married as well as unmarried women take part in the festival of Dhillo. But for doing important rituals of the festival only unmarried girls have to take initiatives in Dhillo.”
Dhillo symbolically represent Kartikey or Shadanan, the six headed god and the son of Shiv and Parvati, who is worshipped by the tribal Velip women in the month of Kartik, the eighth month of Hindu calendar.
Laxman Munno Gaonkar, 67 from Ziltawado says, “Dhillo is worshipped by the unmerried women to get blessings of Kartikswami and also to have prosporous and productive life after the marriage.”
The melodious folk songs which are sung by women reflect their utmost love for the mother earth who bless them with bumper crops and ability of procreation. They make reference of the seasonal biodiversity. Some songs depicts the intimate relationship between brothers and sisters, values of life to be charished by the women.
The folk dances which are performed includes different forms of fugadi, zemado. Some time they make two rows and stand opposite, facing each other and sing few lines of a folk song which are repeated by other group. Thuogh these songs are monotonous, they are the initegral part of the festival.
On the 21st night folk dances accompanied by folk songs continued till the afternoon of the 22nd day. After the invocation the five unmarried girls hold on there shoulders the Dhillo, which is then taken into procession by singing folk songs to the rivulet. There an unmarried tribal youth known as Dino chado, perform rituals and then, this Dhillo is immersed into the water. The crowed return back to the mand where all the villagers are served with vegetarian foods, specially cooked by the women. This food is considered as prasad and all make it a point to relish it without fail.
Eid-ul-fitr
The Muslim community all over Goa like other parts of India today is celebrating the most popular festival Eid-ul-fitr.

The Muslim religious calendar is depended on lunar month and ninth lunar month called Ramazan considered as the auspicious period which emphasizes on the spirit of fraternity and humanity.
During the Ramazan, the Muslims are required to strive hard for settling their differences and remain away from conflicts. They are also advised to refrain from lying, cheating and using filthy language or hurting others. They have to perform fasting from sunrise to sunset by refraining from eating, drinking or enjoying any sort of pleasure.
Throughout the year, a Muslim performs prayer or namaz five times in a day. But during the Ramazan, the special prayer known as ‘Taravih’ in addition to the night prayer called ‘Isha’ is performed.
Eatables cooked in milk called the Sehri are eaten for the early morning meal after which they have to attend the prayer in the mosque. Fasting whole day, they will break their fast as soon as they get the call for the Maghreb prayer during the sun set with a sip of water and by eating some fruits.
After this, they relish on special food items which are prepared for Iftar like sauces of tamarind, fried corn flour, boiled grams, sweet meats, meat kababs and other delicacies. For 29 or 30 days, the Muslims observe fasting and perform special prayers. If the new moon is seen on 29th day, the next day is celebrated as the Eid, otherwise they have to observe another day of fasting with total fasting for 30 days.
As per the Islamic tradition the prophet Muhammad emerged victorious in the battle after fasting for thirty days and acquired Mecca and his followers through thirty days fasting gained greater zest for work.
Fasting helps a person to acquire control on self through patience and penance. Eid-ul-fitr represents the happiness at the end of the days of fasting and hence it is celebrated by the Muslim community with a lot of excitement.
To mark the occasion, they prepare several varieties of savoury dishes. Vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food items are prepared. But vermicelli cooked in milk with raisins and nuts called Sheer-khurma is a must. Chicken masala, chicken rassa and sweet dishes like kheer of moong or chavali or sabudane are prepared to mark the occasion of Eid. A variety of sharbats are offered to the guests and relatives.
During the month of Ramazan and Eid-ul- fitr, the Muslims have to make generous donations to orphan children, helpless aged, beggars and other needy persons and maintain humanitarian values.
Throughout Goa wherever, the Muslim community is scattered the special processions holding placards of the Islamic teachings and giving slogans will be organized. The lectures highlighting the teaching of Muhmad Paigambar will be listened in the mosque.
Eid ul Zuha
The Muslim community of Goa observes Eid – ul – zuha. It is one of the popular occasions of the Muslim which is also known as the Bakari – Eid since goat or sheep is offered in sacrifice of Allah.
As per the tradition prevailing in the Islam, the Allah in order to test the faith of Ibrahim asked him to make offering of his son Ismail. Ibrahim took his son in the jungle and tied his eyes with the cloth and was about to kill Ismail. Realising his utmost devotion Allah performed a miracle and substituted a ram (dumba) in place of Ismail.
In order to remember this noble act of the highest sacrifice, every year make offering by way of goat sacrifice to Allah. The flesh of the sacrificial animal is given to the poor and needy.
For the three days a sacrifice of animals likes goat, sheep, camel, etc. is done. The ritual of scarifying animal to Allah is known as Jubah.
At least once in a lifetime, if health and security of the family permit, Muslims are required to go on pilgrimage to Macca in Saudi Arabia for Haj. It is considered as the most auspicious to go on pilgrimage to Macca during Eid – ul – Zuha.
The day following the appearance of the moon is celebrated with great happiness. The Eid prayer is recited between the early morning and noon prayer. As soon as the prayer is over, people embrace and greet each other “Eid Mubarak”.
Bicholim, Valpoi, Keri, Phonda, Pernem areas have the Muslim settlements from the pre-liberation period. The Muslim population residing in these areas celebrates Eid by maintaining a harmonious relationship with other local communities.
There are special delicacies prepared for Eid which include mainly non-vegetarian dishes like chicken biryani, meat biryani and also vegetarian dishes like veg-pulav, sweet shirkhurma. They also prepare a special pungent dish from rice called Akhani. The Muslim is known for their culinary art and eating food items prepared by them is indeed delicacy.
On account of the sacrifice of animal, this Eid is known as Eid – ul – Kurban or Eid of sacrifice, Eid signified the brotherhood of all.
Chaitra Utsav
The first month of Hindu calendar, Chaitra is celebrated with a variety entertainment, religious and programmes of cultural importance.
The Chaitrotsav celebration associated with the temple of Shri Vithal from Vithalapur near Sanquelim town has special place to mention.
Once the hillock situated on the right bank of the river Valvont was known as the Marutigad. However, when the idols of Shri Vithal along with Rukmini and Satyabhama were installed in the present place, it became popular as Vithalapur. As per the local belief three idols made up of metals are brought from Pandharpur, a famous sacred place of Maharashtra, by Vataba Dulba Rane Morlekar. Three stone sculptures which are there are carved out by Shri Vithal himself in the form of Vithu Mahar.
These idols were installed on the tenth day of the first half of the fortnight of Chaitra in 1392 A.D. and hence it is observed as the anniversary day of the temple and is being celebrated with various religious and cultural activities.
In the history of Rane Sardesai family of Goa, Shri Vithal temple occupies significant place. The members of Rane family used to invoke Shri Vithal for blessing before waging a war or launching any campaign against their enemy.
For seven days, there is palanquin procession wherein the idol meant for festive occasion is taken out in procession to the shrine of Pundalik at Valvont in the company of Bhajani artists. It will be followed by a performance of Dashavatari folk drama.
At the midnight folk artists will dress in the costume of mythological figure Virabhadra and performance folk dance depicting the tradition of warfare under the trance.
It will be followed by the chariot procession. A wooden carved chariot will be pulled out by the members of the temple committee in the jubilant mood. Hundreds of people gather to witness the precession of chariot called as Rathotsav.
Chandreshwar-Bhuthnath temple situated on the hill of Chandranath on the borders of Quepem, Salcete and Sanguem is also famous for the procession of chariot organised on the full moon day.
Takyachi jatra of Poinguini
The Takyachi jatra is one of the most important religious fair of Poinguini village in which large number of devotees from Canacona and surrounding areas are involved for 13 days.
Though, this fair is mainly associated with the god Vetal of Poinguini, villages of Sadolshe, Loliye and Khargal are also involved in the celebrations.
‘Taka’ is the inscription written on a piece of cloth with the embroidery of the coloured threads and is dated to the Saka era 1745. The language of the inscription is the representation of Marathi belonging to the Yadav-Bahamani period.
It is a type of eulogy composed to praise the brave deeds of god Vetal. The procession holding the banner of Taka initiated by a person under the trance of Vetal moved from Navdurga temple of Aarav to Karapanas, Galaye, Sadolshe, Kolasar, Chandanped, Loliye, Khargal and will return back at Vetal temple, of Poinguini on 7th day.
On 8th and 9th day there will be presentation of the folk drama known as Jagar which has the roots in the hoary past and this unique mask folk drama reflect the rich cultural heritage of the land in the premises of Vetal temple.
Throughout Goa there is rich tradition of Vetal worship related with the fierce tantric cult. In Goa, the people associated with the agriculture and fishing occupations are worshipping this god as Vetal or Betal.
Vetal is the folk deity who is considered as the prince of goblins. It is believed that he exercise control on spirits, ghosts. Iconographically, Betal is represented wearing a garland of human heads, holding dagger in one hand and a bowl in another with robust arms, ornaments of snakes and is shown totally naked always.
In order to propitiate Vetal, devotees make offering of fowls, goat in addition to liquor. In the past in some villages, there was a sacrificial offering of buffalo.
In Canacona and surrounding areas, Vetal of Poinguini has large followers who strongly believe in the supernatural power. When their wishes get fulfilled, the devotees pay visit to temple and make offerings.
Poinguini is the name evolved from the word Panchyagram or five villages. Parshuram, Purushottam, Durgadevi, Adipurush and Vetal are the five deities which have great significance in the religious life of the people of Poinguini.
As per the local tradition, it is believed that Vetal after conquering twelve kingdoms in the13th century reached. Poinguini, where an intelligent Nagu Velip made god Vetal through trick to bestow his blessing on the villages, who was actually known for the ferocity.
The Takyachi jatra is celebrated in order to give invitation for the people for Gadyachi jatra which will be held next year. In this jatra four persons are suspended by means of hooks to revolving wheel and they are made free when the devotees being asked by the main person (gado), declare that they are satisfied.
During this jatra various rituals are performed. However during the period of jatra no marriage ceremony will be organised as the whole village is involved in the festive mood.
Seven days Jatra of Savoi : Vere
Savoi – Vere, a village of Phonda well known all over Goa for the temple of Shri Anant. During the seven days fair the temple of Anant exhibits varied facets of cultural heritage of Savoi – Vere, an ancient settlement for centuries and a center for both spiritual and secular learning. An 11th century inscription records the granting of village to the teacher of Shasta Deva, one of the earlier Kadamba rulers.
Shri Anant is one of the forms of Lord Vishnu whose figure is superbly carved, with intricate details; along with his consort Laxmi kneeling at his feets. Vishnu floats on the waters asleep on the coils of Ananta the serpent, sheltered by his hoods. Ti is amidst well – watered paddy, rich green for most of the years and plantation of areca nuts this temple of Anant is situated.
For seven days, the temple of Anant attracts a large number of devotees from various areas, different cultural activities are organised for seven days. On the first day of Jatra, the Palkhi of Shri Anant pays visits to the temples of Sateri at Sateribhat and Laxmi Narayan at Savoi and invites these deities for the fair. Devotees accompanying the Palkhi and procession of Anant, then return to the temple in jubilant mood which is followed by the presentation of folk drama known as the Dashavatari Kalo on the tune of folk music by the local artists. It depicts the incarnation of lord Vishnu and shows the killing of Shankasur, a demon who had stolen Brahamadev’s Vedas, at the hands of Vishnu.
On the second day ‘Sangodotsav’ is held wherein a twin boats are joined together and are floated in the lake with the deity. On the third day, deity is made to sit inside an eagle – shaped well decorated Palkhi. On the fourth day, deity is seated inside the Vijayrath or victory chariot. On the fifth day, Anant sits on the throne of lion known Sinhasan. On the sixth day deity ride on wooden elephant called Ambari. On the last day he sits on the coiled Sheshnag snake. All the six days have drama presentation by each community residing in Savoi – Vere.
The Jatra of Sakhya Hari is the greatest cultural event of our village which unites all the communities by maintaining harmonious relations.
During the festive occasions, Anant and other figures on the rock panel are painted with the paste of Onval (Mimusops elengi) wood mixed with different colours. The tradition of Gandh pooja was started by late Shripad Sane. When the deity is painted with the paste it gives totally new look to the sanctum sanctuary of the temple and is a source of attraction to the devotees.
The Margshirsh, the ninth month of the Hindu calendar is associated with numerous fairs and festivals. The seven days Jatra of Savoi – Vere is the most colourful event which insists for participation of various communities of the village. It is believed that the rock panel of Anant was brought by a pious muslim saint who is respected as the ‘Pir’ by the Hindus. Thus, Anant is also a symbol of communal harmony.
Six days Jatrotsav of Shantadurga Kunkolkarin
The goddess Shantadurga is one of the important forms of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. She is the presiding deity of Cuncolim village from Salcett.
From Pausha Shukla Panchami to Pausha Shukla Dashami Shantadurga Kunkolkarin Sanathan will be celebrating the annual fair of the temple with a variety of programmes depicting the varied and rich facets of the heritage associated with the goddess Shantadurga.
During the Portuguese regime Shantadurga along with other deities were transferred to Fatorpa of Quepem. The temple of Shantadurga was said to be existed at the locality were the Chapel dedicated to the sacred Heart of the Jesus is built at Cuncolim. As per the letter dated April6, 1567, of the then Captain Diogo Rodriguies Fernandes of Rachol fort it seems that the temple was burnt on April 5, 1567.
On the 20th day of the Phalguna, last month of the Hindu calendar, Shantadurga comes in procession from Fatorpa to Cuncolim every year on the occasion of the festival of Santrios (umbrellas) in which the Christians along with the Hindus take part.
The idol of Shantadurga holds in its arms a shield and a trident. The annual fair is marked by the special ritual of abhishek for all the six days beginning with the Naman or invocation on the first day.
For five days an idol meant for festive occasion will be taken out for procession in the Palkhi and Ambari. On the fourth, fifth and sixth days, the deity will be made to sit in the chariot and taken out for procession.
As this is one of the important temple of Goa it attracts a large number of devotees not only from the remotest corners of Goa but also from Karnataka and Maharashtra state.
She is worshipped by Hindus and Christians alike as the devotees believe that she asks in their dreams, any thing she likes. It is reported that she insists a variety of things like cloths, new or old, from her devotees who makes the offering of the things insisted by the deity with immense veneration.
Due to this, the temple has much religious sanctity. The things thus offered to the deity are auctioned at the time of festivals and the income is deposited in the temple funds.
The biggest fair of Goa- Lairaichi Jatra
Lairai is one the most popular deities of the people toiling hard in the agriculture and other traditional occupations. It is believed to be the form of goddess Parvati, the consort of Shiva.
The original temple of Lairai is situated at Mudder. When devotees enter from Assonora to Shirgao, on the small hillock to the left side there is a temple of Lairai. This deity is in the ant-hill form.
In the past the areas was densely forested and rich in water resources but the haphazard mining activities responsible for causing a lot environmental degradation.
Though Sateri is the presiding deity of Shirgao but when Lairai came to Shirgao she acquired a lot of fame and name. Altogether, there are 14 deities worshipped in Shirgao.
It is believed that the seven sisters namely, Lairai of Shirgao, Mahamaya of Maye, Kelbai of Mulgao, Morjai of Morji, Mirabai or our Lady of Milagris of Mapusa, Shitalai of Maye and Ajadipa from Anjadiv island and their only brother Khetoba from Vaigaini
Coming from the Ghat region and permanently settled in various parts of Goa, today all these eight deities became the part and parcel of the cultural life of the Goan Hindus. The fairs of Mahamaya from Maye and Kelbai of Mulgao were already held in the month of the Chaitra, the first month of Hindu calendar.
The feast of Milagris was held for 3 days. The Hindus and the Christian take part harmoniously in the feast and various rituals are observed there.
Every year on the fifth day of Vaishakha the second month of Hindu calendar, Lairai’s Jatra is held. The devotees from the Konkan region of Maharashtra and various parts of Goa take part in the fair as the ‘Dhond’s who are dressed in traditional cloth and carrying a coloured piece of cloth on their back and a stick of entwined cane (bethkathi) in their hands, they all enter Shirgao from the morning.
More than 25,000 dhonds take part in the jatra. Every year about more than 2,000 devotees are added.
Presently all the wells and springs of village are dried but Devichi toil has some water. This sacred tank earlier was filled with water and devotees were taking sacred bath inside it. After performing some rituals, they visit the temple of Mudder and then temple situated inside the village.
There are 22 persons belonging to various caste and sub-castes who actively take part in making the fair a grand success. They are called as Chowgule and they all observe fasting for nine days.
Vasudev Mukund Joshi and Shripad Mukund Joshi hold the sacred pot called Kolos of Lairai. They observe fasting for one month whereas Dhonds participating from various nooks and corners observe it for the five days.
Prof. Prakash Paryekar who take part annually in the fair of Lairai as the dhond says, “I believe in the deity Lairai and is taking part in the fair since my childhood. I derive spiritual strength and peace of mind when I stay out of my house and profession for five days under the shadow of trees near the bank of Mhadei.”
On the day of Jatra the two priests comes out of the temple with a Kolos or insignia of the goddess accompanied by the Ghadis who are expert in performing rituals, invokes the names of several deities.
Bunches of the red flowers are thrown in the direction of the sacred tree related with the holy spirit of Amona and procession proceeds forward.
The main attraction of this fair is the Homkhand (the Pyre). The priest carrying Kolos throw the lighted firewood and this pyre start burning. After few hours lighted charcoal are spread and the Dhonds who have taken the sacred bath walk or run on the lighted charcoal. The Devotees believe that this is possible only due to the grace of Latrai and divine help and protection of her.
In the most of all villagers fairs are held but the jatra of Lairai of Shirgao is the most unique and one of the biggest fair which attracts a large crowd.
Pethechi Jatra of Mulgao
Mulgao, a village situated at 3 km away from Bicholim town on the way to Mapusa, is a well known place; today acquired great significance on account of more than fifty temples and shrines. Temples originally from Moira, Pomburpa, Serula of Bardez are transferred to Mulgao during the Portuguese regime.
Besides these temples, Mulgao has the temples of presiding deities Kelbai, Sateri which were founded by the village communidade of Mulgao. On the fifth day of the first fortnight of Chaitra, the first month of Hindu calendar, the temple of Kelbai from Mulgao celebrate the unique feast of Pethechi jatra.
As per the local tradition prevailed in Mulgao and surrounding areas seven sisters namely Lairai of Shirgao, Morjai of Morji, Kelbai of Mulgao, Mahamaya of Maye, Mirabai or Milagres of Mapusa, Ajadipa of Anjadiv and Shitala of Patala or underground world along with their lonely brother Khetoba of Vaingan came from the Ghat region and settled in different areas of Goa.
All these seven sisters and their brother have maintained their relationship which can be seen during fairs and festivals. It is said that the deity Mahamaya on account of the terror d by Betal and Vetal in the region was not ready to reside in Maye. It was goddess Kelbai who accompanied Mahamaya and d favourable atmosphere for her to reside permanently in Maye.
From Chaitra shuddha Panchani till Chaitra Shuddha Ashtami (eighth day) goddess Kelbai reside in Maye. From Mulgao to Maye she is taken in the procession in the Cane basket locally known as the Peth by her devotees. While going to Maye, she follows Vhalshi, Borde, Bicholim, Pazwada route and return through the old route which was passing from Mhatarghati, an hillock today become victim of indiscriminate mining activities.
The cane basket with the insignias of Kelbai meant for the festive occasion are taken to Maye and kept in the village for worship. On the Chaitra Shuddha Ashtami, Maye celebrate famous fair of Malyachi jatra wherein a lamp or male is lit and hold on the head by a devotee.
Devotees who take part in the fair are called as the Dhonds. They dress in the white dhoti and carry a coloured piece of cloth on their backs and a stick entwined cane (beth -kathi) in their hands and dance in the temple. Before entering in the temple, the devotees bath themselves in a sacred water tank.
At the midnight the devotees accompanying the cane basket goes to Maye in the procession. Devotees observe fasting for nine days beginning from the Gudi Padwa, the Hindu New Year day and eat only vegetarian food items by observing strictly the principles of pollution and purity.
The Pethechi jatra is one of the biggest religious as well as cultural events of village which attracts large number of people.
Mulgao and Maye were the villages once famous for the agricultural diversity. Both these villages were dominated by the agricultural communities but today the indecent mining activities are responsible for destroying the linkages which the villagers were having with the mother earth and the nature.
The wooden masks of various deities carried in the cane basket are unique and reflect the rich cultural heritage of Mulgao.
ASHTAM OF NARVE : a fair of Shrikrishna or of ghosts?
In the most parts of India and Goa, eight days after the full month of Shravan is celebrated as the birth day of lord Krishna or Janmashtami by the Hindu communities. Through tradition it is believed that Shrikrishna was born at midnight on this day. Goa has the unique temple of Shri Devki Krishna at Marcela which is known for Janmashtami celebration. In some temples of Goa, a small and colourful idol of baby Shrikrishna is put into a cradle at midnight and rocked with a great deal of fervour and feelings.
In some houses, there is a tradition of worshipping the clay idol of Shrikrishna. After the pooja is performed, the members of the family eat the special vegetarian food in the group. The programme of Bhajan, a devotional music consort is organized where in singers sings praising deeds and values cherished by Shrikrishna. The Rane Sardesai family of Keri-Sattari has a long tradition of celebrating Janamashtami. They call it ‘Gokul pooja’. They jointly celebrate this festival and most of all the members of Kerikar Rane family residing in various parts of Goa make it point to attend the celebration. They without fail make the offering of 24 or 32 laddus of Rava to Shrikrishna and prepare number of sweet dishes and also other dishes making use of milk or yoghurt.
Nowadays the second day of Janmashtami is marked by breaking the clay pot (Handi) of yoghurt (Dahi) in various towns in Goa. The state level competitions are organized of breaking Dahi-handi. Young boys climb on each others shoulders and make human pyramids to reach the pot which is tied at a high place. Shrikrishna is believed to love yoghurt very much and quite often along with peers used to climb up high to get the yoghurt pot from the loft.
In Narve of Bicholim, Janamastanmi day has a special importance. Early in the morning a large crowd of devotees from the remotest part of the Goa go to Narve to bath themselves in the sacred waters of the Tirtha. It is believed that the river Mandovi becomes holy only on this auspicious occasion and hence devotees do not want to miss the chance of taking bath. The place where this fair is held actually is a large crematorium where dead bodies from surrounding areas are brought to perform last funeral rites, with the hope that deceased person get the salvation.
Though Ashtam, all over Goa is being celebrated in the honour of Shrikrishna, in Narve where this fair of Ashtam is held no shrine or idol dedicated to Shrikrishna is found. The devotees offer their prayers to Kalbhairav who is locally known as Kalo Baba whose shrine is situated nearby on the right bank of the Mondovi. Idols meant to worship only on the festive occasion of Chamundeshwari, Ramchandra from Gimone, Shantadurga of Pilgao, Kankadevi, Laxminarayan and Vithoba from Narve and of Shantadurga of Bicholim are brought in a procession in palkhi. Devotees got a chance to worship these deities at one place at the foot of the hillock overlooking the river.
It is believed by the Goan Hindus that during the pre – Portuguese era this fair was held on the opposite bank of the Mandovi in the village of Narve of Divar Island of Tiswadi. The fair used to attract very large crowd from various parts of Konkan to the old site of the Tirth near the shrine of Hatkeshwar. By the ‘Alvaras Regios’ dated 21st September 1654 and 3rd February 1665, it was forbidden to visit the said tank under the pretext that is caused scandal and as some newly converted Hindus reverted to their old faith on seeing such gentile rites and ceremonies.
From the last three centuries, this fair is held at Narve of Bicholim. All the devotees and organizers take utmost care to conclude the fair before the sun – set. No devotees dare to stay at the site after the sun – set. All the shopkeepers, vendors hurriedly close down the shops and business and rush back to their homes without looking back at the site. They believe that unseen spirits, ghosts haunting the crematorium take the charge of the area and celebrate ‘Bhootachi Jatra’ during the whole dark night. There are numbers of fabricated stories regarding this fair of ghosts among the people in surrounding. The Christian community of Goa too believes in the existence of ghosts as they also celebrate Rement Saibiniche Feast at Casauli in south Goa on the 6th of January on the hillock of Rementi. All disappear before the sun-set with belief that ‘Bhootanchi Jatra’ is held in the evening.
Makharostsav and Festival of Navratri

Navratri mean the nine auspicious nights of the Hindu month Ashwin. The first day of Navratri is observed on the first of Ashvin shukla (bright) through the religious ceremony called the ‘Ghatasthapana’. A metal vase representing procreation is kept for worshipping in the sanctum sanctuary of the temple along with nine varieties of food grains are sprinkled for germination.
After the celebration of nine nights, the tenth day is celebrated as the Dussera which could be considered culmination ceremony of Durgotsav. Durga who is shown riding a lion and killing the demon Mahishasura with her trident is worshipped for nine days as the triumph of good over evil. Though today in many part of Goa, the Navratri. Festival is under the influence of Gujarati culture and music with young girls wearing colourful skirts and blouses and boys wearing churidar kurtas play the Garba and the Dandiya raas.
But the Navratri festival of Goa has its own unique ways of celebration. Instead of dancing and singing in jubilant mood, it is marked by expressing utmost degree of dedication and devotion through various means. The Makhorotsav exhibits artistic skills and talents of the Goans. On the first day, a traditional square shaped wooden frame work decorates with the glossy, coloured papers. Then we hang over this movable makhar to the iron-hook with iron-chain. The idol of deity meant for festive occasions is made to seat inside the makhar and garlanded with flowers.
This makhar is kept for nine days. Every day in the evening the religious discourses known as ‘Puran’is read in the temple of Navdurga of Borim situated at the foothills of the Siddhanath Parvat. This year Vinayak Bhat Borkar is doing the task of reading, the Puranas mainly, ‘Devi Bhagvat’ and ‘Ramayana’. A well known folk artist Nishikant Tengse is performing the kirtan, religious discourses accompanied by devotional songs and stories on the background of music. This is followed by waving of a platter containing a burning lamp around the idol and singing a traditional prayer in Marathi on the deity called Arati.
During the time when Arati is sung, the movable makhar is kept swinging which transform the whole atmosphere and the feeling as if deity is being alive and ever ready to grace the devotees. Navdurga temple of Bori village has the tradition of Makharotsav. Whole village happily participate in the festival with the hope of acquiring the blessings of the deity on the family.
Phonda is indeed the land of gods and goddesses and during the Navratri festival all these temples attract a large congregation of devotees to witness the Makhorotsav and other religious performances.
In some temples, the deity is seated in Palakhi (Palanquin) where as in some Lalakhi; a large dome shaped palanquin with legs is used for celebration.
In the temple of Shantadurga near Kavale, the deity is also made to seat inside the decorated makhar. But every time the mount on which deity is seated is made of a variety of birds, animals like peacock, eagle, lion, etc. Performing kirtan by the women is indeed a new tradition established in Navratri of Goa.
Through, geographically Goa is small but culturally it is very rich and varied. In some temples during the Navratri, a variety of cultural programmes having their roots in devotion are organized. The special performances of the Bhajan in Marathi compositions of eminent saint poets are sung by the artists who make the night more spiritual and auspicious of the autumn season.
Makharotsav : uniqueness of Navratri in Goa
The nine nights of bright Ashwin which are celebrated as the Navratri, are the important occasions in Goa to express the devotion to the various forms of mother goddess. During the nine nights of Navratri in the most of the temples of mother goddesses in Goa, devotees organises the Makharotsav, which exhibits hidden artistic talents of villagers.
The annual fair or jatra and the nights of Navratri are the two occasions when the presiding deity of the village temple is made to sit in well decorated multi-coloured Makhar having a swing tied to the ceiling of the main hall of the temple with the iron chains, which is swinged to and fro by the devotees.
In some temples, the Makharotsav is organised for all the nine days whereas in some cases, it is for five days. The village youths by making use of their skills and talents decorates the square shaped wooden framework with the multi-coloured glittering paper. In the middle of this framework, there lies a seat, on which the goddess is seated. It is then tied to the ceiling near to the Sanctum sanctuary of the temple.
In some temples, there is a tradition of reading mythological stories from the religious scriptures, which is known as Puran Vachan. In the evening, a folk artist presents the performance of the Kirtan marked by singing, reciting, and story telling by dramatizing it.
It is then followed by singing of Eulogy also known as the Mahaarati, on the beats of main temple bells accompanied by waiving lighted lamps. The devotees assemble in a large number voluntarily come forward to push the swing in different directions. Some times swing is pushed in a circle.
The idol of goddess used for the festive occasion is garlanded with flowers and dressed with various golden ornaments. The Makharotsav of goddess Kalika for the last five nights of Navratri are indeed the most memorable and exciting.
In Kalika temple of Kasarpal, the community of goldsmiths scattered in Goa and in other parts attends at least one night for witnessing the Makharotsav. Along with beats of temple bells, the folk musical instruments of membraphone like dhol and taso are used while swinging the Makhar. As soon as the Makharotsav is over, devotees and others relish on Samaradhana, lip-smacking vegetarian foods.
Many temples in Ponda taluka are well known all over Goa for the Makharotsav. Navdurga temple of Bori attracts a large crowd to witness the Makharotsav.
Navratri : marks the celebration of Durga worship
The onset of Indian autumn season or Sharad ritu is heralded by the Navaratri celebration which makes the nine days and night’s festivities mainly in honour of the Goddess Durga who is shown riding a lion and killing the demon Mahishasur with her trident.
Once upon a time many parts of Goa were mainly come under the influence of the cult of Shakti worship. It is believed that Goddess Durga was a ferocious deity; her aggressive forms like Katyayani, Chandika, Chamunda, Ambika become necessary to destroy the evil power. When Durga came to Goa, she became popular as Shantadurga, Aryadurga, Vijaydurga.
In some temples, she is worshipped as the eight-handed goddess holding javelin, sword arrow, wheel, noose, shield, bow and conch.
The Amarakosh regards her as a form of Parvati. In the Mahabharat and the Harivansh, she is referred to as the sister of lord Krishna and the daughter of Yashoda. In the Matsya-Purana she is described as being born out of the of three goddesses while as the Markandeya Purana says she is made up of the essence of all the gods.
In the most Sateri temples of Goa, she is iconographically shown in the form of Mahishasurmardini. When she is four handed, in one hand she hold sword, another hand trident, third with the shield and fourth in the protection and boon-giving attitude. Under her foot, she is shown killing the buffalo demon Mahishasurmardini. Earlier, in many temples, ant-hill symbolically represents goddess Shantadurga as well as Sateri. However, today, ant-hill is replaced by the idol of Mahishasurmardini.
During the Navratri, Shantadurga and Shakti temples situated in various parts of Goa wear festive look. Every day the idol used for festival of goddess is decorated with the flowers and made her to sit on the different mounts like cobra, horse, elephant, peacock, lion, and tiger and so on.
During the sixteenth centuries, many temples from Salcete, Tiswadi, Bardez were destroyed and devotees brought the idols to various villages of Ponda situated amidst lush green horticultural plantation. All these temples are over crowded during the Navratri with the devotees who specially comes to witness the colourful ceremonies characterized by singing, chanting, playing of musical instruments during the Navratri, which make the celebration most enchanting and memorable.
Navratri celebration in Goa
The Indian autumn or sharad rutu is the season of happiness when the human festivities reach a peak.
The first nine nights of the bright half of the seventh month of the Hindu calendar Ashwin are celebrated as Navratri mainly in the honour of the goddess Durga who is worshipped in Goa in the forms of Sateri, Shantadurga, Bhumika, Bhagvati, Mauli.
A feeling of expectancy fills the air and every one looks forward with eagerness to the Navratri dedicated to the worship of different aspects of Durga, Saraswati and Laxmi.
In the most of all temples throughout Goa on the first day of Navratri, a ritual of Ghatsthapana take place wherein a pitcher filled with water is worshipped in the temple and nine types of grains are kept for germination.
On the tenth day these sprouted grains are distributed among the devotees. Women use them to decorate their hairs. Beginning with the first night, a garland of flower is put to the pitcher for all remaining eight nights.
The farming communities reap the panicles of paddy and use them along with the leaves of mango to tie over the entrance of the house and temple on the tenth day of the Navratri.
For every night the pitcher is worshipped and eulogy or aarati is sung on the tune of musical instruments. In some temples a religious discourse praising goddess shakti with Saptashati is read.
Performance of kirtans are specially organized in which well known folk artists present kirtan a composition marked by singing, recitation, dramatization is presented.
Temples of Kalika from Kasarpal, Navdurga from Bori, Mahalaxmi from Bandora are known all over Goa for ‘Makhorotsav’ where in the deity is seated on the mount of eagle, lion, tiger on each day of Navratri.
Nowadays the Goan cities are alive with music and dance in the nights. Young girls wearing colourful shirts and blouses and boys with churidar kurtas play the Garbas and the Dandiya raas.
Navratri festival express gratitude to the Mother Earth
It marks the end of gloom of ignorance and on set of goodness and blessings. As per the mythological stories the demon Mahishasur began to harass the devotees and posed threat to gods and goddesses, who prayed goddess Durga to relieve from these troubles.
Durga took a form of Mahishasurmardini by consolidating might of 33 crores of gods and goddesses and killed the demon Mahishasur after fighting continuously for nine days and nights.
By invoking Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati during Navratri people urge the Divine Power within themselves to destroy animalistic behavioral patterns and to bless virtuous qualities and grant highest knowledge.
Among the nine days of Navratri first three days are dedicated to goddess Durga, destroyer of evil; the next three days to Laxmi, goddess of wealth and last three days to goddess Saraswati, the bestower of knowledge.
Navratri generally occur when the weather gets clearer and pleasant and night becomes longer. So ancestors developed creative rituals accompanied by singing of devotional songs, telling of religious stories to spend prolonged nights. The celebration of nine nights is basically worshipped of mother earth who gives her bounty during the harvest season after the monsoon.
Most of the Hindu temples throughout Goa will worship a pitcher locally called as ‘Ghat’ in the sanctum sanctuary of the temple a round which nine types of food grains will be sprinkled in the soil that contain the mixture of cow dung, clay of ant-hill. Every day a garland of flowers will be used to decorate the pitcher for nine nights.
The sprouted food-grains locally known as ‘Rujvan’ will be distributed to all devotees on the tenth day which is celebrated as Dussara. In Poinguinim of Canacona, villagers will throng in the procession to the temple of Bhaktipurush at Amona and ‘Palav Satri’, umbrella shaped insignias of deity will be taken to the temple of Devati in Poinguinim.
A ritual called ‘Ushtann’ will be observed in many tribal hamlets in and around Canacona, wherein all seasonal edible fruits and vegetables grown in the fields and hill slopes will cooked and first it will be offered to the village deities and will be afterwards distributed among devotees.
Shravan – the holy month of the Goan Hindus
Shravan, the fifth month of the Hindu calendar is considered as the most sacred month by the Goan Hindus and is being celebrated happily by various rituals and festivals throughout the state.
This month is regarded as the most important month among the Chaturmas, a period of four months beginning with the Ashad to Kartik traditionally believed to be the period when the lord Vishnu go to long sleep for four months and is awakened on the day of Kartik Ekadashi, the bright eleventh day of Kartik month.
This month got Shravan name most possibly because of the Shravan constellation. On the Saturday, a day dedicated to Lord Hanuman and planet Saturn or Shani, a large number of devotees flock to the temple of Hanuman and offer oil and garland of calotropis gigantia. (Rui Shrub)
The Shravan has the rich tradition of celebrating a variety of festivals mainly because during this month, the monsoon season is in full swing and the whole nature expresses its joy through the lush green vegetation and swift flowing springs and rivulets and hence our ancestors found it as the most appropriate and auspicious to observe many of the festivals during the Shravan.
The Sunday is associated with worship of the sun. The non-Bramhin Goan married women worship the sun, this day so that their husbands get the long and cheerful life; whereas among the Brahmin, a married man perform the pooja of the Sun for blessing on his family. On the Monday devotees visits the temple of Lord Shiva. Tuesday the Brahmin married women perform the pooja of the Mangalagauri for the blessing of happy married life from the goddess Parvati. Thursday, has the significance of worshiping Dattatray, a god representing the trios Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh. The devotees prefer reading the holy book ‘Guru charitra’. The Friday is related with the worship of Mahalaxmi by the women for the prosperity and good wealth.
Besides, these auspicious days, in between there are festivals of Nagpanchami of worshipping clay idols of Cobra, the Rakshabandhan expressing gratitude for brother by sister by tying the Rakhi, Gokulashtami, the birthday celebration of Lord Krishna are observed.
The full moon day of Shravan is celebrated as the Sutachi Punav where in the non-Brahmin communities wear the sacred thread first by making offering of it to their family deities The fishermen resume their fishing operation by offering coconut, a symbolic representation of Shiva to the god sea. They invoke the sea god for granting protection and good fish-catch in year ahead.
A month long celebration is marked by preparation of vegetarian dishes and delicacies. Many of the temples throughout Goa will organize special performances of Bhajan, Kirtan to express their dedication and devotion. The people mostly prefer to eat the vegetation diets and possibly says good bye to eating fishes, meat, eggs and other non-vegetarian food items. In the past there was a tradition of reading religious books like Bhakti Vijay, Hari Vijay. Today, it has been replaced by the religious discourses, singing of devotional songs.
Shravan to relish on diverse vegetarian cuisine
Shravan, month known for its holiness is most remembered throughout the year for the varied type of vegetarian foods. The Goan Hindu predominantly love fish curry rice but on the occasion of the whole Shravan month there are many families who will prefer to eat mainly vegetarian foods. The culinary tradition of the Goan Hindus has the defining elements during the month of Shravan as they prepare a variety of vegetarian food items.
In Ponda at Farmagudi, there is a sacred place called Kattamgal which is famous for the Holy Spirit Katamgal Ajoba. The villagers from surrounding areas assemble on the last two Sundays to celebrate ‘Godashe parab’.
The most of the villagers from Rajinwada, Gavane of Bandivade are celebrating the Godshe parab. Members of Zalmi tribal community will take actively part in preparing Godshe, a sweet dish by cooking rice, dal, grated coconut and jaggery together in huge pots kept on the oven made by keeping three stones.
All those who remain present for the ceremony will be served with this tasty sweet on the leaf plate. A large number of devotees attend the festival and all enjoy the sweet dish in the open air by invoking Katamgal Ajoba.
During the Shravan month on every Monday in the temple of Mauli villagers gather to eat the vegetarian foods served by the priest in the afternoon. This is the best occasion to meet villagers and eat food prepared in the temple premises. This food is considered as the Prasad or blessing from the village deity.
In the Shravan, many people love to eat a special dish called Khatakhate. Originally, it is hotchpotch of left-over but is now a mainstay of festive occasions. Pieces of pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, and other seasonal vegetables are cooked with peanut and then swirled in a coconut paste, red-chilies and other spices. Teflan, tiny aromatic dried berries to give an astringent flavour for curry is added at very end to Khatakhate.
Besides Khatakhate, a variety of dishes like Chanyaros (a spicy curry of gram), Mugagathi (a spicy curry of sprouted green gram), Taikhalyachi bhaji (leafy vegetable of Casia tora), Nirphanasachi kaapa (fried bread fruit slices) are served.
In Shravan on every Monday, the vegetarian food items are served in the afternoon. Devotees associated with Mahamaya, Ravalnath and Sateri serve food on each Monday for those who are present for the occasion.
Mencure of Bicholim is known for the temple of Mauli. During the month of Shravan, a special puja called Navchandi is organised. On this occasion whole village is served with special vegetarian foods.
Many temples in Goa, wear festive look during the Shravan on at least four days in a week as the various religious and cultural performances are performed. In some temples during the night time a programme of singing devotional songs called Bhajan is organised. As soon as the performance of Bhajan is over, all the devotees are served with a special sweet dish ‘Usal’ prepared by cooking gram, jaggery and grated copra and tea.
A large number of devotees throng in the temple of Dattatray in Sankhali on every Thursday of the Shravan. Special vegetarian food items are served by the committee. Beside these special dishes are prepared to mark various festivals. Patolyo, a steamed sweet dish prepared by putting grated copra, jaggery in kneaded rice flour covered in turmeric leaf on the day of Nagpanchami; Chunnache pole, a pancake made from soaked rice and jaggery mixed with grated copra; Sanna, a steamed dish prepared from soaked rice and a sweet dish on the day of Aaitar poojan; Fov, a sweet dish prepared from flaked rice on the day of Gokulashtami.
Tulshi Lagna- A Rich Goan Tradition
Tulshi lagna or Vivah mean marriage of Tulshi plant with the lord Vishnu or his incarnation lord Krishna. From the 11th night of moonlit fortnight which is also known as Prabhodini till the full moon or Pournima of Kartik for five days, there is a tradition of organising ritually marriage of Tulsi plant with symbolic Krishna.
Tulshi or Tulas is Basil plant (Ocimum Sanctum) is regarded as one of the holy household plants all over India. It is believed to be a destroyer of demons and evil spirits. Unmarried girls worship it for a happy married life, married women to be blessed with children and widows to attain salvation.
It is difficult to find a house in Goa in absence of Tulsi Vrindavan. Earlier pedestal of clay was made manually where the Tulshi plant was neatly planted. Watering the Tulshi Vrindavan and applying the sandal wood paste, turmeric and red powder-kumkum and also adoring it with flowers and the lamps is a tradition observed even today among the rural Hindu women. In the eco-feministic festivals of Katyo, Dhillo and Dhalo Tulshi Vrundavan occupy a pivotal position. During the Chavath a Matoli or canopy is erected in front of Tulshi Vrundavan with a variety of wild fruits and flowers.
The Prabodhini Ekadishi is being celebrated as Vhodli or Dev Diwali. It marks the conclusion of Chaturmas, a four month period when Lord Vishnu is believed to go for long sleep on Ashad Shuddha Ekadashi and get awaken on Kartik Shuddha Ekadashi. Tulshi Lagna is one of the most important festivals. No marriage ceremony will be held before Tulshi Lagna as it does not enjoy religious sanction all among Goan Hindus.
The clay pedestal is today replaced by the pedestal of cement-concrete with a lot of variations in shape, size and colour. Every year before the Tulshi Lagna, cemented pedestal is painted with oil paints and varied designs. In rural areas, women manually with artistic skill make square shape pedestal of clay and apply to it paste of cow-dung. This Tulshi vrindavan is decorated with wild flowers and yellow coloured marigold.
On the day of Tulshi Lagna, a tender stick of dino (Leea indica) is brought and nice designs are carved on it. This dino stick symbolically represents the bride groom of Tulshi Vrindavan. This vrindavan is decorated like a bride. Inside the pedestal in some Vrindavan is decorated like a bride. Inside the pedestal in some areas a wild plant of Tadmad and in other areas a plant of Taikalo (cassia tora) along with pods is planted which is decorated with marigold flowers. A stem of sugarcane is also planted. Fruits of Avalo (Emblica Officinalis) and chinch (Tamarindus indica) are put inside the pedestal or are tied to the plant. Sugarcane is also planted. Head gears or bashings are made from pseudo-stems of banana are tied during the marriage ceremony to the Tulas as well as Dino plants. Akshatas or rice grains are thrown to solemnize the marriage.
All the rituals of a marriage are performed on this occasion. Chanting of holy hymns known as Mangalashtakas accords a sense of sanctity associating it with the feelings of having performed a pious deed. As soon as rituals are over, all who are gathered relish on the Prasad in the form of chirmulyo (puffed rice) along with the pieces of sugarcane. After solemnizing the marriage, married women having husbands light Lakshavati, i.e. wicks of hands spun cotton threads on banana pseudo-stems. The wick bundles (Jodvi) are allowed to burn completely. Women go round Tulshi pedestal performing pradakshina. For two days the married women undergo fasting. On the day of Tulshi Vivah and prior to it they observe fasting for one time. They only eat vegetarian foods which mainly consist of tuber roots, fruits and sweet dishes.
In most cases, the festival of Tulshi vivah is meeting occasion of many family members and relatives. Among the Dhangar-gouly community Dev Diwali is celebrated with joy and devotion. Earlier they use to light their lamps with clarified butter (loni). Clan deities are worshipped. Malkajan temple in Gaondongari, Canacona is the only temple with two Tulshi vrindavans. Both these vrindavans are transformed in to lively when they are decorated with flowers and illuminated with lamps.
Tulshi vivah marks the onset of Hindu marriage season
The marriage season among the Goan Hindus begins immediately after the ceremonial marriage of Tulshi, which is celebrated with the lot of excitement and joy.
Erecting a pedestal along with the basil plant in front of the house and religious shrine among the Goan Hindus is regarded as the auspicious. Once, there was a tradition when a Goan Hindu woman used to take the bath and water the basil plant in the pedestal fetched from the well early in the morning every day; after which her routine work begins.
Lord Vishnu after enjoying the long slumber for the four months is believed to awaken on this day and hence it is celebrated by illuminating the earthen lamps as the Dev Diwali.
Observing the ritualistic marriage ceremony of the basil plant with the well decorated and artistically carved stick of dino (Leea indica), representation of Shri Vishnu is considered as the most important by the every Hindu family. In the past the pedestal was made of the clay which was then pasted with the cow-dung by decorating it with the various wild flowers locally available.
The married women having husbands were putting to wicks in the pseudo-stem of plantain plant and waiving them to the pedestal of Tulshi, who urges Tulshi goddess to bless their husband’s long and prosperous healthy life.
The tradition of worshipping pedestal of Tulshi is older than many centuries in Goa. In a picture found in a book of Lopes Mendes ‘A India Portugueze’ published in 1889, there are many Tulshi Vrundavans shown in the rows along the road. In Goa, Tulshi Vrundavan was an integral part of the Hindu house where it was located just in front of the main entrance. Many of the sacred water tanks in front of the temples have Tulshi Vrundavan.
In the honour of the dead woman with a live husband, a pedestal of Tulshi is erected as the memorial. The eleventh day of the second half of the Kartik is celebrated as the Kartik Ekadashi by relishing sweet dishes are specially boiled tuber roots and devotees in a large number pays visits to the temple of Shri Vithal.
In Udalashe near Sacorda and Okami near Dharbandoda Sanguem, the women of Gawda community concludes the eco-feministic festival of Katyo on the day of Tulshi vivah by performing colourful folkdances on the tune of melodious folksongs.
The forest dwelling Velip Community earlier was living in the forested villages were celebrating the another eco-feministic festival locally known as the Dhillo which was observed from the period after the Dussera till the Tulshi vivah. It was marked with the various folk dances, folk songs. Today only few Velip villages are observing the tradition of the Dhillo.
Kartik Pournima
The Indian autumn season is known as the Sharad Ritu, in which the festivities reach its peak in Goa.
The most of all full moon nights are considered as the auspicious. The full moon night of the eight month of the Hindu calendar, Kartik, however has special significance as it is celebrated as Tripurari Pournima by the Hindus whereas the Sikh observed it as Guru Parb.
Guru Parb is the birth anniversary of the Guru Nanakdev, the founder of the Sikhism who had propagated the teaching of equality and fraternity. He always believed that the path to right living is by serving and helping other human beings.
Two days before the Kartik Pournima, the Guru Granth Sahib, the religious book of Sikhism is read day and night without interruption. On Guru Parb day, this book is taken out in procession.
In Goa, the Gurudwaras at Porvoriem and Vasco have assumed the festive look. The Sikh community scattered throughout Goa have celebrated it with great happiness.
Shri Vithal temple at Vithalapur – Karapur has attracted large number of devotees as well as tourists to witness colourful cultural performances which were held on the right bank of the Valvont river.
The procession of idol of Shri Krishna and the Palkhi of the Shri Vithal and the boat festival were the main attractions. The celebration was concluded by burning the effigy of the demon Tripurasur.