Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa ~ by Veena Parrikar

This year we celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa. Tourists come to Goa in hordes to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s Day, but fortunately, Ganesh Chaturthi here has remained a quiet, joyous festival that graces the home and the temple rather than strut the streets. Having grown up on the very public, loud, and grandiose observances in Mumbai, the Goan experience came to me with all the freshness and fragrance of a monsoon breeze. Here there are no gigantic idols worth crores of rupees, no loudspeakers blaring crude film songs, no vargaNi (monetary donations) demands at your door by Ganeshotsav associations, and none of the other attendant evils of commercialized celebrations. While there are saarvajanik (public) Ganesh utsav celebrations in Goa, the scale and noise is nowhere near that of Mumbai. The spirit of Ganesh Chaturthi – a celebration of the birth of Ganesh through private worship, cooking and eating delicious saatvik meals, visiting your friends’ and neighbours’ and sharing festival snacks, participating in the aarti, community events such as cooking contests, rangoli and maaToLi competitions – is still alive in Goa.

Here are some vignettes from our Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa.

Shri Shrikrishna Dhumal, a murthikaar in the village of DhargaL, Goa.
These artists shape the murthi by hand and do not use molds or templates. Only eco-friendly materials, from the clay to the natural dyes, are used.

Shri Umanath Naik, another murthikaar in Nagueshi village, putting the final touches on his creations.

The day before Ganesh Chaturthi is marked by paying homage to Ganesh’s parents, Shankar and Parvati.

As part of the naivedya for the Shankar-Parvati puja, a special dish is made with five different seasonal greens. These bunches are prepared and sold in the markets by village women. It includes pumpkin leaves, drumstick leaves, red and green amaranth, and chavLi greens. The greens are cooked without salt and offered to Parvati to take care of her pregnancy cravings.

Our Ganesh, resplendent in his birthday finery.

Modak for the birthday boy. Less than perfect in looks, but full of shraddha (and taste).

MaaToLi is a Goan tradition where, fresh fruits, vegetables, berries, etc. are hung on a wooden frame over the murthi, symbolizing Ganesh’s status as a provider. This is crafted with a great deal of care and passion in the villages, and the all-Goa maaToLi competition has many enthusiastic participants. This picture was taken in the remote village of Bambar in a peasant’s cottage. He had 175 unique items in his assemblage, all of them either grown in the farms or foraged from the wild. We later read in the papers that he won the third prize.

On the day of visarjan (immersion) – a quiet moment after the aarti.

Our Ganesh at the Panjim jetty, just before immersion. This is the hardest part of the festival.

The next morning we headed out to Nirankarachi Rai (nirankar = without form, rai = grove). This is a sacred grove in a forest in the village of Bambar. The Ganapati murthi are dipped in the stream and then left in the forest to naturally mingle with the earth. A more fitting farewell for Ganapati Bappa, I simply cannot imagine!

Photo Credits: Rajan Parrikar

Posted by Veena Parrikar©Copyrighted in Bhakthi~Bhukthi,Traditions,Veena Parrikar (Sunday September 23, 2007 at 2:44 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

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31 comments for Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa ~ by Veena Parrikar »

  1. Ths is such an informative post, thnk u for explaining it along with such beautiful pictures.

    Comment by Ranjitha — September 23, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

  2. Loved reading about the celebration and enjoyed the pics very much.

    Comment by Gini — September 23, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

  3. these artisans are amazingly gifted. this post is a great tribute to them and their level of sensitivity and awareness – to the environment and to the world in general.

    Comment by bee and jai — September 23, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  4. Hey…I am a goan and this is just perfect. I was missing all the festivitie back home. I love the medley of greens and decorating MaToli is a huge task in our household.

    Comment by Pooja — September 23, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

  5. Love you for this wonderful post…muah n hugs.

    Comment by Pooja — September 23, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

  6. Dear Indira,

    I truly enjoy reading Veena’s guest posts on your blog. I owe my minor understanding of Hindustani Classical music to Rajan’s wonderful essays first published on and now on It is delightful that Veena contributes so richly to other realms of my understanding. More power to this beautiful couple and their work. It really made my day to see the traditional meal and the ganesha picture on chaturthi day.


    Comment by aa — September 23, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

  7. Come to think of it, we were environmentally friendly for ages. Thats one of the reasons I don’t prefer Ganapati made of Plaster of Paris.

    Comment by Suganya — September 24, 2007 @ 12:27 am

  8. great reading, the ganpati’s are so beautiful and environment friendly too.

    Comment by bindiya — September 24, 2007 @ 12:33 am

  9. Super photos, Rajan. You do a very valuable service in bringing these images – of otherwise hidden facets of cultural expression – to wide distribution via the Internet.

    These images also highlight the almost unbelievable creative/artistic richness that is so evident – but somehow rarely documented or understood – in the Goan people.

    It was particularly apparent this Ganesh festival – the images in the newspapers alone boggled the mind. Stunning, highly original, absolutely brilliant, deeply sincere…what a cultural powerhouse we inhabit.

    Comment by VM — September 24, 2007 @ 1:06 am

  10. Excellent piece… the photographs capture the mood very well… my personal favourite are the inviting modaks, the mattoli, and the visarjan at Nirankarachi Rai…
    More-ya! yes, give some more!

    Comment by Pravin Sabnis — September 24, 2007 @ 3:21 am

  11. keep it up rajan excellent job done

    Comment by rajesh sinary — September 24, 2007 @ 3:28 am

  12. A lovely piece with beautiful photos. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi reinforces to me the philosophy of Hinduism i.e. religion is a way of life. Gods are almost human…they too need birthday celebrations! 🙂

    I loved that last pic. It reminded me of the garden gnome that traveled on its own all around the world in the french movie ‘Amelie’.

    Comment by anjali — September 24, 2007 @ 4:03 am

  13. Thanks for the wonderful article and fantastic pictures of Ganesha’s festival.

    Comment by Kumudha — September 24, 2007 @ 6:38 am

  14. Excellent pics.

    Comment by Timepass — September 24, 2007 @ 6:58 am

  15. Fantastic article and pictures, Veena and Rajan! This brings back to me memories of the similarly celebrated big Ganesh day in Dharwad too.

    Comment by Nachi — September 24, 2007 @ 11:24 am

  16. How lovely! Veena and Rajan, thank you for sharing. Being in Mumbai myself (and tired of the crude filmsongs blaring from loudspeakers and the huge advertisements for consumer products at every major Ganesh pandal), I especially appreciate your quiet, homely, and faithful celebration.

    And Indira, thanks for sharing your friends’ stories and pictures with us.

    Comment by Uma — September 24, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  17. Beautiful pictures and wonderful tale!

    Comment by Nav — September 24, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

  18. hi indra,
    I follow ur recipes, they are ymmy with my rayalaseema taste, pl can u give me reccipe of modaks plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Comment by kalyani — September 24, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

  19. How lovely and edifying! Thanks very much and all my best wishes for an auspicious season!

    Comment by the chocolate lady — September 24, 2007 @ 5:33 pm

  20. Hi Indira garu,

    Can you please give the recipe for Modak.


    Comment by Swarna — September 25, 2007 @ 11:19 am

  21. Some wonderful pictures! and a very nice article. Indira garu, I had been visiting your site for the last one year and had always admired your posts with those alluring photographs! Your site has inspired me to start a blog…still working on that.

    Comment by Vatsa — September 25, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  22. Very Divine Post. Thanks for Sharing Veena,Rajan and Indira!

    Comment by Nina — September 25, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

  23. Lovely pictures. 🙂

    Comment by jeena — September 25, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  24. penultimate picture is a genuine piece of art. reminded of the fact that even though he is a god- he has to go-soaked in melonchaly- he even looks like a apprehensive kid-you just want to hug him and never let go…….

    Comment by pandaram — September 25, 2007 @ 6:21 pm

  25. Indira, this has been an education. Thank you. I hope that you and your family had a blessed festival.

    Comment by Cynthia — September 25, 2007 @ 6:34 pm

  26. hi
    Such a great great post!!!!
    I am a goan born and brought up in Mumbai, I usually visit Goa once a year and have a strong bonding . I read your post along with my husband and we were spellbound by the way it was written and photographed. I have witnessed all that is written but was not aware of the significance ,and so it was a very very informative post for us .
    THANKS VEENA, RAJAN !!!! for doing such a wonderful job…
    and thanks to INDIRA too for being a great support..

    Comment by mahek — September 25, 2007 @ 7:28 pm

  27. Veena, your blog is very entertaining as well as educational. Photos are out of this world. Please write more. Last time, I was in Goa, I stayed at Leela God. That hotel is really great.

    Comment by AM I A HINDU? Best Seller — November 26, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  28. Hi. I’m from Mauritius. Am really amazed by these murthis of lord ganesha. Here also we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi. I would like to knw if Mr. Shri Shrikrishna Dhumal exports these murthis!In need to contact him How can i proceed on? The adminstrator of this web can you help me. than k u in advance.

    Comment by Niteen — April 16, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

  29. hi
    it was nice reading your article.I specially
    liked reading the nice information given by you about the artists and the whole festival procedings. thanks for such a wonderful article.
    your article helped mine bro to write his assignments in school……….

    Comment by manoj ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, — February 1, 2010 @ 8:48 am

  30. Hi
    I like Ganesh Idol.Its very cute.

    Comment by vaibhavi salgaokar — July 29, 2010 @ 2:13 am

  31. Very nice post. But the most important thing in Goan Ganesh Chaturthi , i. e. Ghumat Aarti… is missing.

    Comment by Rahul — September 6, 2014 @ 12:08 am

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