Goa's Chikal Kalo festival makes a splash

Marcel wakes up to devotion on the festival's final day
Goa’s unique mud festival.
Goa’s unique mud festival.Photo: Rohan Fernandes

Chants such as 'Jai Vitthal', 'Hari Vitthal' rented the air at Marcel where the Chikal Kalo festival (mud festival) was celebrated with gusto, even as the ringing of the Devaki Krishna temple bells reminded one of the 400-year-old tradition that's still alive.

For the very first time, the festival, which pays obeisance to nature, was held in collaboration with the Tourism Department as a state event for the purpose of tourism promotion. An equally excited Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte took the mud bath for the very first time.

The festival witnessed attendees including kids.
The festival witnessed attendees including kids.Photo: Roxanne D'Silva
Goa’s unique mud festival.
Laidback Divar comes alive as Sangodd sails around the island

Just before the bare-bodied gopals, all young and old, with their bodies smeared in oil, could get into the mud to reenact Krishna's playfulness, the devotion at the temple hit a crescendo ringing in the spirituality attached to the day.   

The festival which began on a dry note, saw a gust of rain around half an hour into the event, adding the fun quotient to the playfulness of the participants, more so the children.          

Children enjoying the mud bath in the rains.
Children enjoying the mud bath in the rains.Photo: Rohan Fernandes


Splashing a good amount of muck on the bystanders, young kids were seen having a ball of a time in the company of their elders. The huge swamp of mud became their playground. They smeared mud on each other epitomizing Lord Krishna's mischief.

This year, the festival panned across three days from June 28 to 30. The day began with some devotional music and performances. It saw a very good response, more so to see what was different about the festival after the involvement of the Tourism Department.   

The celebration inside the temple.
The celebration inside the temple.Photo: Rohan Fernandes
Goa’s unique mud festival.
Stage set for Chikal Kalo at Devaki Krishna temple in Marcel, Goa


Housed in the village of Marcel, the Devaki Krishna temple is unique as it is the only one in India dedicated to the mother-son duo. When one enters the temple on this festive day, one is welcomed by lively chants of 'Hari Vitthal'.

After the worship, which includes bhajans and prayers, the participants (men with their bodies oiled) head to a smaller temple nearby where the priests apply vermilion on their foreheads. 

After they return to the main temple, they worship in unison on the beat of the cymbals. A parikrama (circumambulating) around the temple is followed by the devotees' dancing in the temple. The dhol tasha adds another level to the festive mood.

'Prasad' in the form of local sweets and fruits was distributed to the crowd.
'Prasad' in the form of local sweets and fruits was distributed to the crowd.Photo: Rohan Fernandes


Tramping in the muck, rolling in the mud and kicking up dirt, the participants indulged in traditional games that were once played by naughty Lord Krishna. From kids to grown-ups all took the mud bath with the same energy -- running and gliding into the muddy puddles.

With a good amount of tourists and locals gathered to watch, none were spared by the rowdiness of the mud bathers. In the end, those closest to these mud splashers came back with their clothes soiled.

The participants also got to witness a human pyramid that broke the dahi handi hanging at a height.

Participants indulging in some traditional games.
Participants indulging in some traditional games.Photo: Rohan Fernandes

The greatness of Goa’s diverse culture was in clear view at this festival. The squelching mud sounds took one back to the days when soil was kneaded with little bare hands. The festival helped the devotees connect with the earth and the participants took home happy memories.

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