August 17, 2006

A Temple Chariot

A temple chariot made of wood parked outside a Goan temple. I waited until the last of the group of canines made way before taking this picture. Behind the chariot, houses lined the narrow road on either side. Two roadside inns were open to public, and served tea and fresh pao-bhaji. A provision store lay across the road. There were not many people about the place when I went near the chariot for a closer look.

The chariot was being readied for the annual rath yatra in Chaitra Purnima (March-April) when the temple deity is taken in a procession through the village. The temple is decorated and stalls selling traditional sweets are set up in the space around the temple while flower sellers, usually old women, sit with their baskets of flowers on either side of the steps leading into the temple complex, holding flowers in outstretched hands, and entreating worshippers to buy them to offer to the deity. Many people do.

Families from all over the state of Goa, and beyond, whose ancestors hail from the village where the temple is located, travel long distances to partake of the festivities, and participate in the rituals. Each temple deity in Goa is family deity to people whose ancestors hail from the village, and also to those from nearby villages who’ve offered prayers at the temple and taken blessings on all auspicious occasions like marriages, thread ceremonies, and the like in their families.

In olden days when there were fewer instances of people migrating from their village of origin in search of jobs, celebrations drew the entire village to the temple. You can still see the devotion, and involvement, but as with all geographical communities, the new generation of people from families that’re longtime inhabitants of the village, migrated in search of livelihood and better prospects, weakening to some extent the continuity in participation that has existed over the years. But, many of them travel long distances in Chaitra Purnima when it is time for the chariot to be led out from its resting place to carry the deity in a procession around the village.

Then it is time for the breeze to carry the holy chants in its folds and deposit it in the air and the trees, and in the souls of villagers, renewing their ties with the land that bore them to the light of day.


Anonymous said...

Hi Anil,
I have been reading your Blog for quite sometime. One thing which i like is the way you describe the entire scenario. Though I am not a wanderer but looks like I actually got to these places after reading your blog. I find you visualiziation very much similiar to those BBC documentaries. From Start to finish U beautifully wove the beads while describing anything. Marvelous Stuff U write. Hats Off to U

Anonymous said...

there was a beautiful temple chariot in my village too. one of the oldest in the country. some years ago, it caught fire.

Anil P said...

To Anon: That's a very big compliment you paid me. Thank you. But I hope I can match up to it :)

I doubt if anything can please me more than having a reader transported to the events, locales, and people-contexts I write about in my blog, it truly makes my day :) Thank you.

I'm a big fan of the BBC, their documentaries that is, not of their news though.

It's lovely to know that you like the posts as much as you do :)

To Anon: That's very sad. Which temple did it belong to?

If you were to visit the Goa State Musuem in Panjim, near the KTC Bus terminus, adjacent to Patto, you'll get to see a massive chariot displayed there, a wooden chariot dating back to the 1700s, from Paroda in Quepem. Check its picture

You can reach it by taking the left turn before the Patto bridge that leads the visitor into Panjim. The turn passes by the Kamat tower, then past Aaykar Bhavan, BSNL, and LIC. Other exhibits in the musuem are worth a dekho. If anything it'll show that before Goa 'became' beaches, it was something else, and magnificiently so.

Anonymous said...

ah! yet another disgruntled one with goa's "tourism"! it belonged to a murugan temple, not in goa. unfortunately i have no pictures of it..

Anil P said...

To Anon: 'yet another disgruntled one' reduces one to a mere statistic, but I suppose that is what it is about.

The name of the village might help in locating a picture of the chariot.

Anonymous said...

Really like the picture. Good one!

chandra said...

Hi anil,

thanks for your very genorous comment on my blog.

yes, 'art' is life.

i enjoyed reding your posts ,the chariot photo is close to my heart.

warm wishes


Anil P said...

To Swapna: Thank you.

To Chandra: Thank you.