|The Cannon ready to fire at the temple ground|
|Its Time up.|
|Villagers erecting the tent.|
|Erecting the tent.|
|The Rameshwer Temple of Achra|
Three to four days before, the villagers start developing make shift tents, kitchens and the planning begins for a grand evacuation. Gau Pallan they call it and there is an excitement around the obscure
in Sindhudurg just 20 Km from Malvan (an age old port town). This is an event which happens once in three years just after Datta Jayanti (a important festival in the region). Gau Pallan is an age old tradition and there are various myths behind it. Some call it a purification of sought, others have religious believes that the grand evacuation pleases to local deity. In this costal region it is believed that the physical property belongs to God and the residents are just tenants. There are also faithful that believe that the event began during the days of plagues and epidemics and the wise thought it would be best for the entire village to stay in the forests for a couple of days so that they would not spread the out break of any decease. village of Achra
What ever the reason this was an event worth experiencing. Sanjay the local villager who was actively taking part in organizing his families stay in the forests away from the village tells me that this event also helps in resolving any ambiguity among villagers as when you stay together in the forests for three days with limited resources you have plenty of opportunities to reconnect to one another and the nature. There are various rules of how the event has to be self executed and it is amazing to see the whole village very religiously follow these rules. The whole village has to compulsorily take part in the event and they have to be living in the forests in make shift tents for 3 days. The whole village will also have to leave the village within a stipulated time. To warn the village about the time there is a cannon which is fired at the temple grounds and a second and the last cannon is fired at the market ground to make every one aware. Within an hour of the last cannon fired the whole village has to be empty.
It was amazing to see the whole village get ready for the event. Households were busy packing for stock for the coming days in the forest. The women were busy with getting the Kitchen packed and the men were giving final touches to the make shift tent and also busy gathering livestock. When you say whole village it includes the cattle, pet and all living things in the village. Villagers choose their spots on the hills or near by forests and the erection of tents start a couple of days before the D day.
For us it is something exotic and unbelievable for the villagers of Achra it is like an extended picnic. The women have a delicious minimalistic menu in mind and they do all the pre preparations for the dishes well in advance. The whole day in the forest is spend relaxing, eating and enjoying each others company. There are no luxuries like your favorite programme on TV or even electricity. I believe those three days would be memorable and truly enjoyable with no distraction of any kind together with one another and the nature. Back in the village everything is closed,a all the houses, bazzars, shops and everything were deserted and all that were left were a few stray dogs howling who probably might be wondering were all the humans were.