Vasco-da-Gama is a port city close to the Mormugao Port on the coast of the Arabian Sea in Goa. Come monsoons and this town, along with her residents eagerly waits for the local festival of Saptah regarded as Vasco Saptah.
This Saptah pageant is celebrated on the 6th day of the holy month of Shravan, a month in the Shakya calendar coinciding with July or August. Vasco Saptah is celebrated on the very subsequent day of Nagpanchami a Hindu festival of worshipping snakes.
The story is such that in 1896 when people began dying due to an epidemic that broke out in Vasco, the local turned to an avatar of Shiva, lord Damodar for help.
A sacred coconut, which was installed at Vasco as a divine symbol to be worshipped, was brought from the famous Damodar temple at Zambaulim (22km from Margao). The epidemic abated as their devotion bore fruit.
The residence of a leading citizen was donated to install an idol of Lord Damodar. Even now this small temple attached to the original house is the main venue during the celebration.
The festival begins at the old Mata high school with prayers being offered. Before being immersed in the sea, the last year’s coconut is taken out in the procession, which is followed by a troupe of dancers as it visits Vasco’s prominent citizens. With the spectators throwing buckets of water and also by the monsoon rain, the dancers get fully drenched.
The devotees return to the temple after the immersion ceremony and while singing devotional songs that continue non-stop for 24 hours, the new coconut is anointed.
There is a parade of tableaux at the night and during the entire week, culture and religious programs are held.
The vendors along the roads and streets of Vasco put up stalls selling everything from toys to clothes. The best time to visit the temple is on any Monday or Thursday at around 9 pm when lamps are lit and devotional songs are sung.
All alongside the roads and by-lanes of the town of Vasco, the vendors put up their make-shift stalls. The providers come from all over India to promote the whole thing from trinkets and toys to furnishings and the latest in fashion.
Whatever you want, name it and it’s there for your picking. The stalls remain up to 15 days, one can’t leave this barring succumbing to the pretty goodies there are for sale! The Vasco Saptah attracts a huge crowd!
A completely happy day to spend and be with your family and cherished ones.