Gulalotsav is celebrated with great devotion across Goa. But the eight-day Gulalotsav (Shishirotsav) of Zambaulim has a tradition of more than 500 years. Zambaulim village, the current residence of the Shri Damodar deity, is located in Quepem taluka at a distance of around 25 km from Margao.
Although Gulalotsav is meant for the people of Zambaulim, all Goan devotees as well as devotees from the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra participate in this worship of Shri Damodar with great devotion.
This is why the Zambaulim Gulalotsav is celebrated in the presence of thousands of devotees, keeping aside the differences of religion, caste, creed and opinion and bowing down at the feet of Shri Damodar.
Devotees fondly refer to Shri Damodar as “Shri Dambab” in Konkani.
For the past several years, the Shigmotsav of Zambaulim has been celebrated with pomp and grand cultural programmes. The Mathgramastha Hindu Sabha has taken the responsibility of celebrating Shigmotsav here and does so quite creatively.
Due to the recent COVID pandemic, it was not possible to celebrate Gulalotsav in the presence of Shishirotsav devotees for two years. But last year it was celebrated once again with enthusiasm. This year, too, devotees flocked to Zambaulim to cheer and celebrate Gulalotsav.
Shri Damodar and Zambaulim have a historical connection that goes way back in time.
There was a linga of Shri Damodar in Fatorda, presumably where the sports stadium has come up. It was considered the principal deity of the Mathagramasthas (residents of Margao).
However, in the 16th century, around the year 1567, the Portuguese attacked Margao and were bent on destroying the Hindu temples. This led some prominent citizens of Margao to unite and take the remains of Shri Damodar's linga to Zambaulim.
Along with this relic, the deities Shri Ramnath, Shri Lakshmi Narayan, Shri Chamundeshwari, Shri Mahakali and Shri Mahesh were also brought to Zambaulim. Later a temple was built here with the help of the citizens of Rivona. Since then the Shigmotsav has been celebrated here.
The Zambaulim Shigmotsav traditionally starts on a Wednesday at Comba, Margao, from Purushottam Keni's house with prayers and rituals of Shriphal (holy coconut).
There is a legend as to why coconut worship takes place here. One night before shifting Shri Damodar’s relics to Zambaulim, the relics were kept at Keni's residence overnight.
On Tuesday, the palanquin of Shri Damodar is brought to the premises of Shri Ramnath Dev Temple and the Gulalotsav begins at 3.30 pm. Later in the evening, a palanquin coloured with gulal circles the Temple of Shri Damodar before entering it.
Early in the morning, when it is still dark, Shri Dev Damodar is made to sit in the palanquin and brought to the courtyard of the Shri Ramnath Temple.
While earlier women were exempt from the application of colour, now women are also seen taking part in Gulalotsav and enjoying it. After Gulalotsav, devotees take a dip into the Kushavati River to bathe.