Chikal Kalo – when devotion and fun come together!


Chikal Kalo is the name of a religious festival, which translates in Konkani as ‘playing in the mud’. This is unique only to the village of Marcel in Goa. The rare festival is a good mix of devotion and fun. This year it was celebrated on Saturday 16th July.

Much like other festivals, it encourages the villagers to come together and promote unity. Chikal Kalo is celebrated on the grounds of a temple dedicated to the mother son duo Devaki and Krishna. The temple is said to be unique to Marcel as no other temple of sorts is said to be existing elsewhere in the country.

“Chikal Kalo is when all, rich and poor, old and young, come together to become one with Balkrishna. It’s a time to leave aside all differences and enjoy the game.” Resident of Marcel, Nandkumar Bhagat said in a report.

The deity

As the picture above depicts,  playing in the mud is a lot of fun, but before the celebrations start, meticulous planning and preparation goes into the religious ceremonies. Devotion to the deity plays an important role. The temple contains idols of Krishna known as ‘Balkrishna’ who is held in the arms of his mother Devaki.

When does Chikal Kalo take place?

The celebrations begin on ‘Aashadi Ekadashi’ which falls on the 11th Day of Aashadh month according to the Hindu calendar. Devotees gather in the temple to sing Bhajans (Devotional songs) for two straight days.

The muddy affair

On the second day, people participating in the muddy ritual take oil from the lamp in the temple and apply it over their bodies. The mud is sprayed with water in advance to make it ready for celebration. After applying oil participants enact various games that Lord Krishna is supposed to have played as a child amongst his friends. Musical instruments such as cymbals, drums  and bells add to the flavour.

One of the prominent games is ‘Dahi handi’. In this game a human pyramid is created to break a pot filled with curd and is hung high above the ground, on a Peeple tree, in the vicinity of the temple. Dahi handi is a popular sport during Janmastami celebration (Lord Krishna’s birthday). Another interesting game is the Chakra. In playing this all the participants touch their feet while lying flat on the ground to make a wheel. Other games include blind man’s bluff, a mock wrestling exhibition and a tug of war.

Other benefits

Women who aren’t able to conceive make their way to the temple on this day. If they are able to conceive, these women return the following year to fulfill their vow. Also many people participate in the mud ritual in order to be cured of various skin diseases.

Sweet tooth

One of the vows is to prepare a sweet which resembles a stuffed paratha. The chapati is filled with jaggery and shredded coconut. The sweet is then distributed among the devotees gathered in the temple on Chikal Kalo.

Such is the frolic of Chikal Kalo- A festival unique to only one village in Goa.

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