Navratri celebrations in Goa

Navratri celebrations among Goa’s Hindus span nine days, but aren’t associated with the very popular ‘garba’ and ‘dandiya’ that we see at this time of year
The most important aspect of Navratri in Goa is the 'Mhakharotav'
The most important aspect of Navratri in Goa is the 'Mhakharotav'Gomantak Times

Navratri, the festival which is usually held in the month of September/October, or on the first day of the Ashwin month of the Hindu lunar calendar, is an important Hindu festival where nine nights are devoted to nine goddesses.

This festival is celebrated by different communities in various parts of the country, more popularly by the Gujarati community by hosting garba and dandiya—where people perform the dance throughout night; and by Bengali community by conducting Durga Puja by erecting pandals in public spaces. Both these events bring people together to be part of the festivities.

In Goa, too, there are distinct celebrations which are mainly seen in different temples of Goa. On the first day of Navratri, there is a Ghatasthapana ceremony in temples where a vase filled with water is kept along with nine grains to germinate. These grains germinate on the 10th day, and are distributed to the devotees.


Navratri is all about worshipping the goddesses, mainly Sateri (traditionally, an ant, or termite, hill is worshipped), Shantadurga, Bhumika, Bhagvati, Mauli, to name a few.

The most important aspect of Navratri in Goa is the Mhakharotav, which is held in various temples. Makhar is a wooden rectangular shaped temple that resembles a swing and is suspended from the ceiling. It is heavily decorated with colourful glass, paper, flowers, etc and the idol of the goddess is placed in it.

Garlands are offered to the tulsi plant during Navratri
Garlands are offered to the tulsi plant during Navratri PIC COURTESY: Arti Das

Many ritual-centric events are held in various temples of Goa, like Gondhal at Shri Navdurga temple at Poinguinim, in Canacona. Here, Tarang and Satri (representation of the deities) are brought out and men perform a ritual dance. This dance form is known as Gondhal.

Along with these rituals at the temple, there are some rituals which are held at homes, too. On the fourth day, Ganesh Chaturthi is held for a day. This Chaturthi is celebrated by those families who could not perform Chaturthi during the Bhardrapath month for some reason, and they conduct the puja on this day. It is held for a day, and then, the immersion of the idol is held in the evening.

On the fifth day of Panchami, a married woman, known as savashin, is invited by another married woman to her home. She is offered votti, that consists of rice, coconut and a gift, followed by a scrumptious lunch.


In the book, Feasts, Festivals and Observances of Goa by Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues, she states, “At home, ladies perform pujas every day for nine days. Abstinence during these days is to be observed and shivrak food is consumed. Payas or kheer is presented as an offering to the deity in the nivedya. Near the tulas (tulsi plant) a mathav (a small wooden structure) is erected and garlands of flowers are put on it, and everyday garlands are added. On the first day one garland, second day, two, till the ninth day, every day by increasing one garland.”

This ritual of offering garlands to the tulsi plant is known as vastra ghalap. The married lady of the family makes these garlands at home for nine days. So, on the ninth day, nine garlands need to be offered. And, on the tenth day, which is the day of Dasara, or Dasro, one garland is offered.

The most important aspect of Navratri in Goa is the 'Mhakharotav'
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Dasara is held on the tenth day and it is an important festival in Goa. On this auspicious day people worship their assets – right from their computers to their vehicles – at home. The item is decorated with a garland of marigold and mango leaves. Also, such garlands are hung on the entrance of the house. There’s also a local tradition of exchanging leaves of the aapto tree on this day. It is believed that these heart-shaped leaves symbolise gold.

This festival also commemorates the annihilation of the buffalo demon, Mahishasura, by the warrior goddess, Durga. It is also believed that on this day Lord Ram killed the Ravan.

Dasara is very ancient tradition. It is probably a tradition set by the first settlers. It is connected with the renewal of the fertility of land. At Pernem, Dasara is also very significant. There is a ritual of Simolanghan where local/ family deities cross the boundaries of the village to meet each other. There are some shrines in Goa, where the ritual of slaying a buffalo is still performed,” says Dr Vidya Kamat Parthan, founder member and secretary of Center for Study of Mythology and Culture.

Thus, many of these rituals symbolise fertility and also the start of a new season, post-monsoon in Goa. It also heralds the arrival of the festive season.

The most important aspect of Navratri in Goa is the 'Mhakharotav'
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