Celebrations of the 5-day long Chaitri Utsav of Lord Shri Vithal- Rakhumai of Vithalapur- Sankhali is currently on. Here’s a glimpse into what the festival is all about
RAMESH SAVAIKAR | NT NETWORK
The five-day long Chaitri Utsav Festival of Lord Vithal and Rakhumai is one of the most important and famous festivals celebrated at Vithalpaur- Sankhali. Devotees from different parts of Goa and the neighbouring states of Maharasthra and Karnataka throng to the village which is known as ‘Pandharpur of Goa’ to participate in the festival.
The annual festival begins from the ninth day of full moon day fortnight of Chaitri Hindu month and concludes on full Monday or also called Purnima. This year, the festival began on April 15 and will go on till April 19.
According to historic information available, the original idol of Lord Vithal and Rakhumai was brought from Pandharpur (Maharashtra) by some Varkaris who used to go on pilgrimage and attend Ashadhi and Kartiki Ekadashi at Pandharpur. It was installed at Pandharne, a place close to Vithalpur- Sankhali. In 1942 AD, the Shri Vithal Temple, dedicated to Shri Vithal, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was constructed on the river bank of Valvanti at Sankhali by the Rane families of Sattari who migrated from Udaipur about 600 years ago. The main festivals at the temple include Ashadhi and Kartiki Ekadashi and Chaitri Utsav.
The beautification work of the temple and the Valvanti river bank has given a new facelift to temple premises and site and has become an attraction for tourists.
The Chaitri festival is known so as it falls in the Hindu month of Chaitra, the first month of the year. As a part of the celebration, various religious rituals like ‘abhisheka’ of the idol in the temple, ‘pooja’, ‘bhajan’, ‘aarti’, ‘path vachan’, and music and cultural programmes are held on all 5 days. Besides this, a palanquin procession during the night followed by Dashavatari, a Marathi drama show presentation by Mama Mochemadkar Dashavtari Company of Sindhudurg, Maharshtra are the main features.
A chariot procession concludes the festival. A huge chariot exquisitely carved in wood symbolising the chariot of Arjuna driven by Lord Krishna in the Mahabharata is the centre of attraction here.
The festival concludes in the wee hours of the morning of the sixth day with a performance of the folk art Virabahadra, where a person transforms into Virabahadra and wearing the attire of a fighter and takes a round of the temple premises (‘Pradakshina’).
A big fair of various shops selling an assortment of sweets, toys, utensils, stalls of cold drinks is also held in the temple premises.
This year, the devasthan samiti has decided to have a plastic and garbage fee festival. Taking serious note of public demand, the Bicholim Mamlatdar Praveen Jay Pandit held a special meeting with the residents of the town and the devasthan samiti and strict instruction have been given to all stake holders, stalls owners, shop keepers, and devotees who gather. A disciplined traffic system will be followed and police personnel are deployed to avoid any problems, informed the organisers.