Today, Goa's Hindus celebrate the festival of Nag Panchami. This is one of the most popular festivals that is celebrated by Hindus in the state. There are many eco-friendly practices that are silently followed by the people of Goa. We take a peek at some of them.
On this day, you can find devotees bringing home an idol of the snake god, and worshipping it. They offer milk and sweets to the god. A popular traditional sweet, called patoleos is made in Goan Hindu homes on this occasion.
Devotees can be seen offering milk at ant hills and in the wild, believed to be the entrances of the dwelling place of serpents.
A day prior to the festival, many women devotees observe a fast in order to please the god. They also avoid frying any food items in their homes.
Here are some traditional practices that are in sync with the environment.
Do not touch the earth!
It is very interesting to note that on the day of Nag Panchami, you will find that people do not plough the ground.
"You are not supposed to do any activities related to ploughing, digging or even planting trees. Any activity that involves breaking the ground shouldn't be done today, as it disturbs snakes," says archaeologist, Sawani Shetye.
She says that these activities might kill or harm serpents, who are hiding and living there. "It is considered to be a sort of bad omen, or luck, if you do any such activity. So, farmers in particular, don't engage in any farm-related practices," adds Shetye.
Making idols from flour
During Nag Panchami, you will find the local markets flooded with idols of snakes, painted in vibrant colours. A resident of Pernem, Alisha, says that in her parents' home, she would make idols of flour. "We would use flour to make the idols and paint them with turmeric. It used to be a very exciting occasion, and at the same time, an eco-friendly practice, too," she adds.
Many homes in Goa, even today, make idols at their homes, instead of purchasing them from the market.
In sync with the nature
The celebration of the festival itself talks about how people, in the past, have been close to nature, understanding it's functioning and existence. There are various interpretations of this festival.
Some believe that through this practice, they will avoid being bitten by snakes. Sisters also pray for the well-being of their brothers -- who go to the fields, and in the wild, to work -- so that they will not be bitten by snakes.
"In earlier times, people would be aware of their surroundings and would never harm animals or insects that were around them. And, even today, we have to strike a balance between man and nature so as to bring about a sense of belonging and oneness with nature," says Ashmit Desai.