The most important and almost the national festival for Goan’s is the Ganesh Chaturthi known as ‘Chovoth’. The festivities run into several days, but minimum at least for one and half days, when puja of Gouri and Mahadev along with Ganapati, is performed. On the Chovoth day, in the morning or evening, a clay idol of Ganapati is brought home. Before that a matov (a small pandal above the place where the idol is place) is prepared with bunches of betel nut, coconut, bananas and branches of mango-trees being necessary ingredients of it. The puja of Ganapati goes on until mid-day. The puja is performed with the help of the pandit. On the second day, in the evening or at night, after performing the uttar puja of the image of Ganapati, it is taken in procession and immersed into a water body be it the sea, creek, river, lake or well. Before the idol is removed from its stand for immersion, it is besought for the welfare of the household and its members.
The festival of Chovath or Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in Goa with pomp and gaiety as preparations for this grand celebration begins well in advance with houses spruced up with a new coat of paint besides decorations and multi-coloured lighting. With the community festival gaining prominence in recent times, people travel to different places to view some fascinating presentations of eco-friendly Ganesh idols. The villages of Cumbharjua, Marcel and St Estevan enjoy a just reputation for their giant images of Ganapati made from different raw materials.
While the festival is celebrated for one-and-a-half days in most houses, it can stretch upto 11 days. In community celebrations, the idol is worshipped for 9 to 21 days.
The celebration at Cumbharjua is very significant as the Ganesh immersion is held on the seventh day on the occasion of Sangod. A villager, Vinod Phadte provided a short brief on how the Sangod festival came into existence, though it is difficult to pinpoint when the custom began. He says, “During Portuguese rule in Goa, the temple of Shri Shantadurga Cumbharjuwekarin was shifted from Corlim to Cumbharjua and then to its present location of Marcel. There was a businessman in Cumbharjua who was in financial difficulties. As a result, he left the Ganesh idol in the temple of the deity. So as a commemoration of the times, the idol is carried on a Devicho Sangod on the 7 th day and then immersed. This tradition led to the origin of the famous Cumbharjua Sangod festival which is celebrated anew every year with enthusiasm.”
It is a colourful procession of small canoes and boats carrying floats enacting some mythological scenes, very commonly showcased during the Shigmo parade in the towns of Goa. Sangod involves the tying of two canoes together with a platform or characters to perform some act. In recent times, social messages and political events are also portrayed, which are taken in the right sporting spirit without hurting anyone’s sentiments.
People participate in large numbers at this festival with a sizable audience watching the different floats from the banks of Cumbharjua canal and from the bridge, all creating a festive atmosphere.