Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vasco Saptah - Goa's largest fair or jatra

There’s a carnival like atmosphere, with over 700 make shift stalls selling everything from food to kitchen ware to clothes to furniture. The prayers and devotional songs continue from the Damodar temple nestled in the front portion of the Joshi Residence. This ancestral home witnesses long lines of lakhs of pilgrims who come to seek the blessings of the divine.

The celebration dates back to 1899 when seeking to be saved from a plague that had gripped the port town, residence of Vasco traveled to Zambaulim in South Goa and brought back a coconut blessed at the Shri Damodar Temple. Constant prayers later the plague ended. Folklore holds. When the coconut was brought from Zambaulim, one Shreedhar Joshi was asked to perform the Puja. This tradition has continued for the past 112 years at the temple which is inside the Joshi residence in Vasco.

Incidentally the statue of Laord Damodar was installed only in 1970 in the temple, earlier only the coconut was worshiped. The Saptah starts with the anointed coconut from the Lord Damodar temple being ceremoniously taken in a procession to Khariawada where it is immersed. Back at the temple Prasad is given to devotees. After the distribution of Prasad a new coconut is anointed as bhajans are sung uninterrupted, for 24 hours.

Through the week long celebration there are various events. Groups called Pars bring in floats depicting various mythological characters and stories. Saptah is the celebration of the entire Vasco city and is a much awaited event among all Goans.

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