What makes Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Goa unique?

Ganesh Chaturthi brings Goa to a halt. Many business houses don’t hesitate to take leave from their businesses and customers to celebrate this festival with their families. Government offices enjoy a state holiday. The main reason for this is the fact that the festival enjoys an unofficial status of being a state festival.

Family affair

Compared to other places that celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, it is a very different affair in Goa. The festival is more private and centers around celebrations taking place within the family. Unlike Maharashtra, where the festival is prominently celebrated as a public event in cities like Pune and Mumbai. However, prominent places in the state do host a ‘sarvajanik’ Ganapati. (The town of Marcel is famous for its unique Ganapati idols and decorations in Goa.)

As per the tradition, Hindu families head to their ancestral home in the village of their origin. Here the entire clan gathers together. Usually 3-4 generations of the family come together. Many customs have to be performed during this period, but one has to compulsorily be performed by a Bhat (priest).


Foraging in the forest and Matoli bazaar

Some of the fruits used for making the matoli (canopy) over the Ganesh idols have to be harvested from the forest. This tradition of foraging has been going on in Goa for centuries. Knowledge is passed down from one generation to the other about their locations.

“In places like Sanguem, Sattari, Quepem and Canacona, matoli items include more wild varieties. This is because these areas are a part of the biodiversity-rich Western Ghats where there is availability of various indigenous wild fruits, roots, shoots. Additionally, in these places traditional practices are maintained”, says author and former member-secretary of Kala Academy, Pandurang Phaldessai, in a NT report.

Matoli bazaars have become popular over the years. They are set up right before the festival and all the forest items are available here. Helping keep the tradition alive in the memory of young Goans.

” At the Matoli Market one Velip tribal aroused my fascination for the exotic forest produce when she offered me a fruit. The fruit looked ordinary, with a thin waxy glossy shell encapsulated the soft fruit. The fruit itself had the most alluring hue of orange. So I went ahead and bought all her stock (6 bunches). But there was no way I was going to wait for an entire year in the hope the fruit may come back again. When I asked her for more details, I got to know that it’s a forest fruit called ‘ambatem’. I’m guessing a descriptive name since the word ‘ambat’ translates to sour from Konkani. It’s a tall tree and one has to climb it to harvest the fruit,” said a Benaulim resident in a O’heraldo report.

These two differences have helped give Goa’s Ganesh chaturthi celebrations a unique identity. Let us know what you think of the article in comments.

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