This Goan art adds more colour to ‘Chaturthi’

Vibrant, colourful traditional items, adorned with ‘Chitari’ art come into prominence at this time of year as Goa’s Hindus gear up for the annual festival of ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’
Goan Chitari art is especially visible during Ganesh Chaturthi
Goan Chitari art is especially visible during Ganesh ChaturthiGomantak Times

In Goa, festivities begin in the month of August, after a two-month monsoon gap. After the heavy downpour, it’s time to enjoy as it’s the holy month Shravan, various village feasts, etc. This month also heralds one of Goa’s biggest festivals, Ganesh Chaturthi. This year, it will be held on August 31, 2022.

The buzz of this festival is seen in Goa’s markets, where a variety of decorative items and puja- related stuff are sold. However, if you want to witness the real buzz, then head to the Ashtamichi feri, which is held at Panjim’s Campal promenade. This fair is known for the furniture, terracotta items, traditional utensils and above all, the wooden Chitari ‘paat’ (low wooden seat) which is beautifully painted with bright colours like red, yellow and green.

These paat are an integral element while performing any puja in a Goan Hindu home. The devotee sits on these and does the rituals.

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These paat are part of the Goan Chitari art, which is considered a local art of Goa and is practiced by a few families situated in the Demani area of Cuncolim village, in South Goa. It is mainly sold by these family members, at such fairs, before Chaturthi.

The sale of these Chitari items starts with sale at Ashtamichi feri which is held on the day of Janmashtami in a sleepy village of Narve, in Bicholim (around 30 km from the capital city of Panjim). Chitari items are, later, sold at a fair held in Panjim city, a few days prior to Ganesh Chaturthi.

Another item which is in demand at this time of year is the wooden fruit basket. It consists of 27 pieces and is usually a replica of local fruits. These are hung from the Chaturthi matoli.

Along with these items, they also make items such as wall hangers, walkers, children’s kitchen set and cradles for babies.

However, of all these items, their bestseller is the paat, and that too, during this time of the year.

The Ganesh idol is placed on a 'chaurang'
The Ganesh idol is placed on a 'chaurang'PIC COURTESY; Arti Das

But, why during Chaturthi one may wonder? It is because it is one of the main items of the vajem, or basket filled with sweets, puja items and matoli items. This basket is gifted by parents to their newlywed daughters and her husband’s family. This paat is traditionally given during the first Chaturthi that the daughter celebrates at her husband’s place.

This paat has the typical design of two parakeets—birds which are locally found in Goa or of two flowers. It is painted, freehand by the artist, directly on the paat. These artists mainly use water-based colours, and then varnish the item to give it a smooth and professional look.

The other wooden item is the chaurang (low pedestal) on which the idol of Ganesh is placed. Here, too, similar colour shades are used.

A devotee sits on a low wooden seat, called 'paat', while performing Hindu religious rituals
A devotee sits on a low wooden seat, called 'paat', while performing Hindu religious ritualsPIC COURTESY: Arti Das
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This Chitari art is not restricted to Chaturthi-related wooden items, but is part of various religious and cultural festivals in Goa. The wooden chariot in temples of South Goa are decorated with this art. The tarangs, which are used for religious festivals, are also painted with this art.

These artists of Cuncolim also use this art to make tonyo or the wooden sticks which are used while performing folk dances such as Tonyamel or Talgadi. These dances are held during the Shigmo festival in South Goa.

It is interesting that how this art plays such an central role in Goa’s traditional history. It is high time that we celebrate this festive art, which is handcrafted and in many ways represents our traditions.

So, if you are heading to South Goa, then make a stop at Cuncolim village to appreciate the efforts of the Chitari family as they take the legacy of this art forward in this modern and ever- changing world.

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