It's that time of the year again -- time for Ganesh Chaturthi, the biggest festival of Goa's Hindus. And, every year, the Vaidyas of Vazem, Shiroda, celebrate this occasion with an unusual practice. While clay idols are the preferred choice all over Goa, this family worships Lord Ganesh ... made of wood.
It is rare to find families, or homes, which worship idols made of wood during Ganesh Chaturthi. But, for the Vaidyas, it is a custom that has been passed down the ages.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
During the Portuguese rule in Goa, there were various restrictions when it came to worshipping gods. Owing to this, the Vaidya family would worship Lord Ganesh in the form of patri leaves. This tradition went on for several years, until some ancestors of the family decided to have a wooden idol of their beloved god.
Seventy-year-old, Rohitdas Sadashiv Vaidya says that he does not know the exact year or reason when worship of the wooden idol began.
“According to what our elders have told us, in the past, we were the patri devasthana. We would worship Lord Ganesha, made from leaves. The leaves were a specific variety, collected from saravanche aitar,” he shared.
Much later, the practice of worshipping the wooden idol was started. “The idol was small in size -- around 8 to 10 inches in height. Recently, we made a bigger Ganesha, which we are now worship,” he added.
THE IDOL -- THEN & NOW
The original idol continues to occupy pride of place in the house of Rohitdas Vaidya, while the bigger idol has been sent for painting and re-touching before Chaturthi. Then, on the day of the festival, it will be installed at the Shree Rampurush Prassana of the Vaidya Kutumbh, Vazem Shiroda. It is here, where all the members -- around 250 to 300 people -- will get together to celebrate the festival.
In the past, the family had a huge ancestral house, which was called Vodlem ghor, which no longer exists. Only the temple remains. The members of the Vaidya family are spread around the ward.
THE FESTIVE SPIRIT
The Vaidyas belong to the family of doctors of the ancient times. Vaidya says that both his parents were into Ayurveda practice. “Earlier, our ancestors were all into medicine. Even both my parents were into it and we also had a pharmacy of Ayurveda in Panjim. But, today not many family members are into it."
The Vaidya family have moved to various parts of Goa such as Sanvordem, Dabal, Ponda, etc.
"We have a one-and-half day Ganesh celebration, and on the occasion, all the relatives come here. The puja and other rituals are done here. There are also programmes and events. It is nice to see the entire family come together," says Vaidya.
The idol is then immersed in the well nearby to the temple and brought out. And, would be used next year.
"This is a very interesting practice followed by our family. You will not find people worshiping idol of Ganesh made from wood. Ganesh has always been the protector of our family and we often strive to make this celebration a grand one," concludes Vaidya.