Of all the temples in Mapusa, there’s one which is the most important. Located in serene, green environs on the outskirts of Mapusa, is a temple dedicated to Kanakeshwar Baba or Lord Bodgeshwar, locally known as Bongini. Lord Bodgeshwar is looked upon as the ‘guardian’ of Mapusa city.
The annual zatra of the temple takes place on Paush Shukla Chaturdasi, or the fourteenth day of the waxing phase of the moon, as per the Hindu lunar calendar. This usually takes place in December or January, with the zatra spanning five days. This year, the zatra began on January 16, 2022.
The temple is beautifully decorated with flowers, lamps and lights during the festive days, and special rituals which are held on the occasion.
The festival begins with the pooja in the afternoon, followed by mahaprasad. Fruits and flowers are offered by various temples to Lord Bodgeshwar. After that, devotees start visiting the temple, with their vows and offerings.
In the evenings, cultural programmes are held. Various organisations, such as temple committees, rickshaw associations, fish vendors, drivers associations, the Mapusa Municipal Council and vegetable vendors perform Satya Narayan pooja at the temple on specific days. A huge fair is held in the field outside the temple.
People from all walks of life, including students, businessmen and farmers, visit the temple seeking the blessings of the deity.
LEGENDS & LORE
Lord Bodgeshwar is locally considered as the guardian of Mapusa, the one who protects Mapusa and its people.
According to popular lore, on moonless nights, one can sometimes see the torch held by Lord Bodgeshwar, as he roams the fields near the temple. People believe that all their prayers will be fulfilled by him, and so thousands of devotees flock to this temple. He is regarded as angavani — the one fulfils the desires of devotees, who make vows to him.
Lord Bodgeshwar is also considered the rakhno (caretaker) of the lost. According to one legend, a small boy had come to attend the fair with his father. The boy got lost in the huge crowds at the fair. Since he knew the way home, he walked back to his house. Of course, he was accompanied by a stranger, who introduced himself as his ‘uncle’. The stranger disappeared as soon as the boy reached his home, in Porvorim. Later, it was discovered that the uncle never went to the fair at all, and the man was none other than Lord Bodgeshwar!
It is believed that the temple deity would walk around Mapusa at midnight, following a fixed route. Some people, would are believed to have seen him, would keep coconuts or beedis for him. The next morning, these items would be gone.