The spring festival is something to be experienced in villages across the length and breadth of Goa. It is the time of year when villagers settled elsewhere return to their roots to participate in the festive season. Many villages are known for some unique feature of their own and are identified by these singular festivals.
Amongst the many festivals and rituals, Chorotsav, held during Shigmo or Holi in other parts of the country, is one that spreads joy to the villagers of Zarme in Mauxi, about 6 kms from Valpoi. Yet another place known for this festival is Caranzol in Savordem in Sattari taluka.
The festival forms a chapter in the village’s history. The story revolves around some youths who were killed by the villagers as they were mistaken to be robbers (Chors), though no one knows the exact history of this age-old practice. The story goes that in the past, people commuted through the forest for work or to collect produce from nature’s bounty. They travelled from village to village from the foothills, climbing across the Western Ghats. During one such daily routine, youths from a neighbouring village who were suspected to have commited robbery were killed. The distraught families of the youth, in search of their loved ones, learn of the tragic fate that had befallen them. The villagers then understand their folly and in order not invite a curse on themselves, repent over their grave error. The villagers of these two places play out an act as punishment. The participating youths are called Chors. In all, eight youths participate in Zarme while a similar act is played by nine youths in Caranzol.
It is quite a task before the actual event begins as the preparations take a while and the act folds up within 10 to 20 minutes in front of the Saptamatrika temple. In this risky operation performed on a full moon night and held at a sacred place called Chavatho, four youths are buried in a pit with only their heads above the surface. Four others have their heads buried below the ground with the rest of the body exposed on the surface with swords in their hands. A large audience gathers to witness this event with excitement as the drumbeats fall silent and the Chors are revealed to the enthusiastic crowd.
These dramatics are best viewed at Caranzol in front of the Kuldevta temple where seven Chors are buried with one raised on a spear and another lying on a platform wearing a garland of leaves. The event begins after an invocation near a place called Wadakade (meaning ‘near a Banyan plant’).
Chorotsav is a festival during Shigmo that reminds one of the ancestral practice of repentance and one which is never missed by the regulars. It is also a signature event in the historic village of Mauxi, also known for its rock art.
The place, about 66 kms from Panaji, is easily reached via Valpoi.