Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Goa celebrates Gulalutsav in Zambaulim today

It is best described by the colour pink which is the colour in vogue at Zambaulim, a picturesque village on the banks of the river kushavati about 21 km from Margao which comes alive today by extending Goa's version of Holi to mark a centuries old tradition of Gulalutsav during the festival of Shigmo in Goa.

gulal colourGoa's commercial capital of Margao therefore wears an unusually deserted look with many business establishments take the day off to celebrate Gulalotsav in Zambaulim.In earlier days this festival used to last atleast for a week with shops shut down in Margao . However in modern times the festival is mainly is a day long affair for the citizens of Margao. However the festival still goes on for a week in Zambaulim.

The deity which is called "Lord Damodar' is worshipped predominantly by the Saraswat Brahmins among  the Hindu business community and on this day they make it a point to feast and worship while also colouring each other in gulal( pink colour).

According to belief, during the early conquests of the Portuguese in the 16th century, it is believed that the deity of " Lord Damodar" was taken from the city of Margao and sheltered in Zambaulim. Before taking it to Zambaulim it was briefly kept at the Keni house in Comba Margao.Till this day, a coconut is first worshipped at this residence where thousands of devotees gather before proceeding with religious fervour to Zambaulim. Owing to the origin of the deity and the whole shifting from Margao to Zambaulim, the people from Margao consider it their obligation to take part in the Shigmo celebrations biggest ritual in Goa, the gulalutsav all the way to Zambaulim.

The week long festivities start with a coconut puja on Wednesday or Thursday from the Keni house and the religious procession leads to Zambaulim where the mahajans of the deity "Lord Damodar" hand over the running of the temple to the Madgaokars ( residents of Margao) for a week and take it back on the last day of shigmo during the Dhul-bhet celebration. Thousands of devotees are also offered meals gulal palkhithroughout the week.

Plays, Humourous one-acts and skits are performed by devotees from Margao while the deity is brought and kept in front of the temple.Before the start of the plays, certain prayers are recited which has a kannada narrative style with some words in the kannada language which clearly traces back on the influence of the southern state of Karnataka on ancient Goa.

While the annual "natak" starts at around 2 am in the morning on Tuesday, in the afternoon, the deity's palkhi  is taken to the Ramnath temple situated nearby at around 3 pm and the deity is smeared with gulal by the members of the sabha thus marking the beginning of gulalutsav when devotees shower paint balloons or paint bombs on each other as the entire place becomes a sea of pink and red. gulal colour in Goa

One of the most important rituals on gulalutsav is the ritual of the navro vakal which is a unique marriage performed at every Shigmotsav in Goa and may be a depiction in satirical form of current events or common events.

Donations also pour generously during this whole event and run into lakhs of rupees with traditional donors from Margao donating every year on a faithful basis. The otherwise quiet village of Zambaulim suddenly comes alive with this festival with fairs and eateries springing up with devotees flocking to the temple for the next 10 days after the gulalutsav.

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