Ganesh Chaturthi, locally known as Chavath, is celebrated with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm in Goa. The Goan households are filled with joy and festivities. Every Goan who stays in cities, flocks back to his native place to celebrate the festival of Lord Ganesha. This festival celebrates the essence of fertility of Mother Nature. As the legend goes, Goddess Parvati created Lord Ganesha by moulding the mud from her body. Thus, the tradition of worshipping mud idols is in practice. But, there are some households in Goa which have another tradition altogether…
The Khandeparkar families from Ponda taluka have the tradition of worshipping the paper Ganesha. While the country has been debating about the use of materials like POP which are harmful for the nature, there are some traditions which are rather eco-friendly in nature. An attempt to dwell into the history behind this tradition revealed some interesting facts.
The tradition is known as Patricho Ganapati in the house of Khandeparkars of Shiroda. There are three families of Khandeparkars in Shiroda of Ponda taluka who still practice this tradition. Patri means the offerings of various leaves which grow during the monsoons. A significant element in this offering is Chiddo flowers. According to Navnath Khandeparkar, a pillow is made by using these flowers to adorn the picture of Gauree and Ganapati. While the usual tradition worships Shankar and Parvati together on the previous day of Chaturthi in Goa, Khandeparkars worship Gauree i.e. Parvati and Ganesha together. Lord Shankar, the father of Ganesha is worshipped in the form of coconut.
Traditionally, in the household of Khandeparkars, the picture of Gauree and Ganesh was painted by Pandurang Shirodkar. After his death, the legacy was continued by his soul son Ajay Parvatkar. He paints the picture to be adorned on the pillow made of flowers to be worshipped at Chavath. He continues to paint for all the three houses of Khandeparkars.
As Navnath Khandeparkar tells, the pictures were framed by the thorns of the Jagam trees in the olden days, but now, these trees are not easily available therefore they use the thorns of the Bel tree.
Khandeparkars of Shiroda celebrate Chavath only for one and half day every year. They cannot keep it for more than that. Navnath feels that this might be because the Chiddo flowers get spoilt after two days, thus keeping it for more days wouldn’t be suitable. He also feels that since Lord Ganesha is the Kuldeva of Khandeparkars, they worship him only for one and half day. Also, this paper Ganesha isn’t immersed in the waters the way mud idols are. The Visarjan is carried out near the Tulsi Vrindavan. After two days or so, the pictures are brought back and kept in the God’s room in the house. A special Naivaeddya of Sannam is offered to the Ganesha of Khandeparkars.
Khandeparkars of Khandepar, also from Ponda Taluka have the tradition of worshipping paper Ganesha. But theirs isn’t a pictured one but it is like an actual idol made out of paper. According to Saish Khandeparkar, his family worships it since the Portuguese era. The paper idols were easy to move in case the problem from authorities occurred during the days of inquisition.
Since the tradition was unique, the following generations of Khandeparkars continued it even after the liberation. A family called Natekars from Usgao provide them with the paper ever since the practice started. Paper pulp is used to make the idol. Just like the Khandeparkars of Shiroda, the Khandeparkars of Khandepar also do not immerse the idol. They keep it with them. They too have Ganesha festival for one and half day.
Today, the ‘eco-friendly’ concept is in the trend while some of the families already have such customs which are originally eco friendly. There are a lot of customs exclusive to villages and families which revolve around the festival in Goa. Paper Ganesha is one such unique custom of Khandeparkars of Ponda. It might have been started because of the historical reasons to sustain the culture, but the subsequent generations have kept it alive. While everyone awaits for the mud idols during Chavath, Khandeparkars wait for their paper Ganesha.

September 5th, 2017

Posted In: art & culture

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