July 04, 2022

#BlogchatterBlogHop: Message in a bottle (a short story)

Roxanne was strolling  languidly on the beach  when she noticed something glinting. At first she assumed it was flotsam. But curiosity drew her closer.

She scooped out the half-buried object from the golden yellow sands. It was a bottle. Inside it was a tiny roll of writing paper. Her mind began to race. 

Being an avid reader, her imagination quickly transported her to all those books she had read…about pirates and treasures; maybe this was a map. Or perhaps some lovelorn sailor had written to his beloved a confession before meeting his end jn the stormy water; a dismal end to a silent romance.

Roxanne unscrewed the cork of the bottle and recovered the paper. It was a note.


Dear reader,

This could have been a ticking bomb. Thank your stars It is not.

(Let this be a reminder never to touch something that has drifted from the sea, which I’m sure is where you imagined this to be  coming. But hah! Tough luck!)

We are a bunch of environmentalists on a mission; Project - ‘Message in a bottle’ (MIAB); an awareness project for reckless fools and romantic idiots.

You were going to throw this bottle back into the seaside, weren’t you? Maybe add a few lines of your own on the note it was carrying and set it asail for some dreamy eyed dingbat to find again? Six degrees of separation coming closer in such a glorious way binding strangers from different corners of the globe, right?

WRONG!

What is more likely to happen is this; the sea turtles and fish in the sea will choke on the cork or shards of the bottle broken from the current. And one tiny senseless act will become responsible for polluting our shores, destroying our aquatic life, and eventually damaging the entire ecosystem.

Sorry to burst your bubble, my friend. But life is no ‘Nicholas Spark’ novel. It is more of a Douglas Adams trilogy, where absurd things keep happening out of the blue and we need to constantly be on our feet in order to keep our planet from demolition.

So here is a friendly reminder. Stop polluting the earth with non-biodegradables. Go  natural instead. Conserve energy. Our forests and natural reservoirs need to be preserved.

And for heaven’s sake, please step out of your little Caribbean island pirate fantasy and stop flinging bottles into the sea, with or without notes in them.

Reduce, recycle, reuse (you know the drill). Now is the time to act.

Regards,

MIAB

(trying to save our planet, one step at a time)

P.S: Please insert the note in the bottle and place in found position.  

Project ‘MIAB’ is a  supervised project. Your response will be noted, and rest assured, the bottle will be duly disposed in a way that doesn’t harm our aquatic friends.


With nervous trepidation, Roxanne restored the note as directed. She knew what she had to do.

“Thank you, MIAB,” she whispered. “You have opened my eyes. I’m leaving the bottle behind, but will take your message forward.”

----------------------

This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop.

June 30, 2022

#CauseAChatter: 'Cobalt Blue' - a movie on gender identity and some afterthoughts.

The month of June is commemorated as Pride Month, a month that is celebrated world wide, with LGBTQ+ friendly cities sporting rainbow parades and gay marches to ahow their solidarity towards an inclusive environment. 

On a similar sentiment, I got about watching  ‘Cobalt Blue’ on Netflix. Having read the novel a while ago, the onscreen adaptation had piqued my curiosity. 

For the uninitiated, ‘Cobalt blue’ is a movie adapted from the eponymous novel written by Sachin Kundalkar.

The movie is directed by the author himself, and was released on Netflix only in April this year. 

Starring Neelay Mehendale, Prateik Babbar, Anjali Sivaraman, Cobalt blue is a Bildungsroman story about Tanay and his tomboy sister Anuja, falling in love with the same man, their paying guest.


From the very outset, the film deals with the topics of gender identity, infatuation and heart break, ealt with in an utterly sensitive and poignant fashion.

There are instances when the chemistry between Tanay and his love interest remind you of ‘Call me by your name’, another famous book-to-film adaptation on the same topic.  


Interspersed with heart-tugging poetry penned by Tanay, the film offers a window into the minds of the LGBTQ+ community, that often goes ignored in a society like ours.

Prateik has played the role of a philandering artist to the T. Being a vagabond of sorts,  betrayal seems expected. However, the film is more about the aftermath, the response, rather than the heart break. 

Both siblings are fighting an internal battle of their own. However, Tanay’s struggle seems more painful, his grief more intense, since he, unlike Anuja, does not have the same privilege of expressing his feelings, even when in love. 


And that got me pondering on the hypocrisy of the society we live in, how it deems anyone who isn’t like the majority as a deviant. How it is inconsiderate towards the LGBTQ community, treating them as outcasts.

We often mistake  gender to be binary, often ignoring or overlooking those who are gender fluid or gender nonconforming, not realizing what turmoil we may be causing them. All this for no fault of theirs. They who are created by the same God, they who are as much a part of society as us. 

Cis and trans are two sides of the same coin, called human. Then why the bias! 

Honestly speaking, no matter how unbiased I claim to be, some scenes of the movie made me uncomfortable.  When Tanay and exchanged tender kisses, oil massages, and warm hugs,  which made me ask myself if I would be squirming as much if it was a man and woman playing a love scene on screen. Then why was I uncomfortable watching two consenting adult men do the same? 

When I got that mind block out of the way, I could watch the movie for what it was…a love story. 


As compared to the West, India still has a long way to go when it comes to inclusiveness. This bitter fact is brought out beautifully in the scene where a senior professor (played by Rajkumar Rao) breaks down and confesses that being gay feels criminal in this country. 

Truth be told, we may have managed to scrap off section 377 from the IPC, but we still need to scrap it off from our minds. Only then we will be able to hope for an inclusive environment. 

Talking on gender identity should be encouraged and not be treated as taboo.  Public and private establishments, cafes, restaurants, transport, etc should be as welcoming to trans folks as they are to cis individuals.  

“Tum hi batao, tay  kar lo, tum raasta  ho  ya  ho manzil...” 

These lines reflect the trepidation, the insecurity, the inhibition, not just when it comes to love but also about loving in a society that does not make one feel safe and welcome. 

The definition of love changes as the protagonists mature with age and experience, from ‘love is a habit’ to ‘love makes you stronger’. 

The fact that the professor’s advances are declined by Tanay is evident of the fact that gay love is no different from hetero-love and that one cannot share the same chemistry with everyone. 

Another poignant moment in the film that stayed with Mr long after it had passed was when Anuja asks her friend how long a relationship should survive for the world to consider it a ‘good’ relationship’. 


The delicate way in which the two siblings handle the heart break, the maturity that Tanay shows despite loving unconditionally, and the growing up that happens in the process, all send across a clear message...we may not always understand people and their choices, but that does not mean we cannot respect them. 

If a movie can show so much maturity, why can’t we? 


----------------------

This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.

June 29, 2022

#CauseAChatter: 'Slamming patriarchy' - a poem on women empowerment


I was seven the first time I asked my family astrologer 


to read my palm, and my grandma laughed a tired laugh 


‘Run along,’ she said, ‘go play with your dolls‘


But it was the stars that had intrigued me


And I wondered what lay for me in store


So when I was fifteen, I asked once more


Only to be dismissed by Grandma 


My future, she said, did not lie in the stars


It lay in the curve of my breasts


The sway of my hips


The kohl in my eyes


The colour on my lips


And I wondered if only the men in the house


had lines on their palms


Lines that could be read


Charts that could be spread


In accordance with the sun, and the moon


and the planets, and the stars


And I wondered what lay for me in store


Was it wrong to wish for something more?


To wish a world where I could rule


To prove that I was nobody's fool


But Grandma laughed a tired laugh


Women, she said, had no right to dream


No matter how smarter than men they'd seem


They have no choice but to tame it down


Like the dolls whom we married to stuffed toy clowns 


In the play-pretend weddings we would organize


Never realizing or stopping to think twice


How close to life we played


But days and weeks and months passed by


And resolutes just got stronger


So the next time the family astrologer came visiting


I did not put forward my palm to be read


But instead displayed the medals I had won


The trophies I had bagged


Academics and sports, elocution and debates


There wasn't a single field I lagged


Proudly sauntering my way ahead


I'd carved fate lines for myself 


This time Grandma smiled, her eyes were gleaming 


She'd said girls shouldn't dream, but there I was, dreaming


She held my hands in hers now and softly cried


And I was only too happy that I had tried 


To break the stereotype that society had set


for girls, women, dreamers like me


Who had once wished for their palms to be read


And were now hoping for minds to be free


Of prejudiced ideas, and gender inequality


That had been plaguing the world for an eternity


It took time for her to understand 


But then Grandma took matters in her hand


and showed that astrologer the door


And that day what I realized, I say to you once more;


The stars can burn all they want


but they cannot stop you from trying


The planets, the sun, the moon aligned 


cannot dictate what you can do


The lines on your palm do not chart the course of your life


So draw your own lines instead and don’t allow them to limit you 


From trying, even when someone says 


you can’t, reach out for your dream 


For no matter how distant it may seem


There is thunder in your wings, darling


You are meant to kiss the sky


--------------------------

This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.

For more of my poetry, you can check out my solo anthologies of poems here and here

June 26, 2022

#CauseaChatter: Learn to say 'No'

In life we are often faced with situations when yes seems to be the only answer. Sometimes it feels like we have no other choice than to say yes to something or someone. Either out of choice or out of circumstance we are forced to say yes despite our will. 


Maybe we are left to believe that saying no will hurt the other person involved or will make seem rude or petulant, harm our image in the eyes of others, and that is  something that we do not want.


Times like these, we need to remind ourselves that it is not wrong to prioritize oneself , that self-preservation is of utmost importance, and that in order to help others, we must first become capable of helping our own self.

And for that we need to learn one very important thing; when to say ‘No’.


Just like ‘Yes’, the word ‘No’ also has a deeper  psychological impact on our psyche. Saying 'No' can be responsible for some of the best (when uttered sensibly and  judiciously) and worst (when left unsaid out of compulsion/obligation) decisions. 


Challenges of saying No :

For most of us, saying ‘No’ isn’t easy. There are may be different reasons binding us down, reasons that are best known only to the self. I won't attempt getting into specifics as each person is different and so is their psyche. 

But broadly speaking,  here is a list of reasons why we generally find saying ‘No’ difficult and how to overcome them. 

1) As children, being  considerate towards others is often so ingrained into us that  keeping ourselves first feels like a selfish thing to do. The fear of being deemed rude or impolite often stops us from saying what we feel. There is no denying that being   compassionate is a good thing, but there also needs to be a  healthy balance between our own needs and those of others. 


2) In today’s fast paced life, it is quite  common to experience FOMO, because if which we often tend to  bite more than we can chew, take up more commitments than we can handle. Until one day, it takes a toll on our physical and mental health. Experiencing burn out, physical exhaustion, frustration, and mood swings then becomes a common occurrence. Knowing when to say ‘no’ is an important social skill we all need to practice. We need to realize that we cannot do everything in a day. Instead of FOMO, we must learn to embrace JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out), learn to stop and smell the flowers. Only then we will be able to  appreciate the journey. 


3) Saying No is a way to preserve our self-respect and self-worth. Would you rather be acknowledged as someone who leaves everything half finished than someone who takes up a only  few things but  reaches them to fruition? Think about it. 

Having said that, saying no is never going to be easy. However, a little tact and social courtesy can go a long way.


A few things one ought to remember while saying ‘No’: 

1) Your intention should be understood. 

Providing a little context always helps cushion the hurt. But you do not need to justify your decision, especially if you feel someone is taking advantage of you.


2) Over explaining may lead to lengthy pointless  conversations which you are better off avoiding. So provide just enough context for the person not to feel offended. And keep in mind that not everyone can handle a rejection well (no matter how nicely you frame it), and it’s okay. 


3) Consider all possibilities before arriving at a decision. Take your time to think things through. 


4) Be assertive while expressing your decision. Stick to your priorities and do so with confidence. If you yourself are wishy-washy about what you want, you can well be  taken for a ride.  


5) Being considerate is important. But so is being straightforward . Be direct in your approach.


6) Be respectful but do not bend. Set your own limits and do not allow anyone to cross them.


How to know when to say ‘No’:

Saying no is usually instinctual. One should listen to their conscience…that tiny inner voice which keeps us in check. If things ‘feel’ wrong they probably are.

However, there is need to politely decline an offer even when it feels right..eg: when you are swamped with pending work and are offered another lucrative project.

In such cases, it is best to complete the task at hand before taking on another task. 

But how do we know when to stop?

One effective method is this:

Work out your availability time , if the time you have available in a day. Then, half it. Now, prepare that with what you ‘need’ to get done. 

If you still have time left after this, you can consider taking up another task. 

The rule of thumb to maintain a healthy balance is to start small. And leave sufficient time to rest. 

Because as the popular saying goes; “All work and no play…”


Despite implementing all these measures, you still experience a  serious problem saying no, there is no shame in doing a practice run with a friend or a therapist. Saying ‘no’ is often underrated. But one should never forget that the right choice is the one that works best in your interest. You cannot please everyone, not at the cost of feeling resentful or stressed out. If you ever have to choose between your peace of mind and anything else in the world, you know what to do; choose the former. 

I wish you well, with my favorite  words of the serenity prayer.


-------------------------

This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.

April 30, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: Z for ‘Zooming in on Goa’ - an overview. .

Today is the day my ‘Obrigado, Goa!’ series takes its final bow. 

Welcome to the finale special of my A to Z series. I'm feeling a tad bit emotional while writing this. And a journey like this deserves some reminiscing.  

'Obrigado, Goa!', hitherto, has been a beautiful journey of 26 posts spread over the last 30 days. 

I still recall the day I signed up for the challenge. It was my first time and I was feeling antsy about it. Also, being someone who doesn't believe in making plans beforehand, signing up for a 30 days campaign was no mean feat. I had no post planned and that would mean committed writing everyday of the month.

However, the energy of other Blogchatter members was infectious and the enthusiasm soon caught on. I decided to enroll myself. 

Choosing a topic to write on was the easy part though. Being majorly right-brained,  I decided to write on a topic that was close to my heart. A topic I had long wished to write on. A topic that is close to home. And so I chose exactly that. I chose a topic that is home...Goa.

All through the month, I blogged about various aspects of my lovely state...some intriguing, some adorable, some interesting. But all in all, each amazing. 


As days went by, writing the series turned into a roller coaster ride of emotions. Being Goan by birth and by choice, I share an intimate relationship with the place, the language, the people. And so I found myself in a better position to write on this topic.

However, a thorough research into each individual topic revealed that there was so much that I still wasn't aware of in all its entirity. 

I have lived in Goa all my life and yet it has never ceased to fascinate me. As I delved deeper into each individual topic, I was pleasantly surprised to find a treasure trove of knowledge on a place I already knew so much about. 

Information came from all corners. Research meant asking around, discussing with family and friends, searching googling, and travelling down the annexe of history. At one point, I was so spoilt for choice that I felt the compelling urge to work in multiple themes in a single post. 

I tried my level best to keep it crisp. But an occassional long-winding post was inevitable. 


Having said that, lets zoom in on all that has happened over the month of April. If you haven't been reading me regularly, here is a good chance to catch up on the series.

You can click on any of the Alphabets below and it will take you to the corresponding post.

A - speaks on the fading connection of Azulejos and Goa. A sneak peek into Goa’s cultural identity.


B - speaks on the Big Foot, Goa’s first open air heritage museum. 


C - speaks on Cuisine, because well, there is lots to love on the Goan plate. 


D - speaks on delectable Goan Desserts, that are bound to leave your sweet tooth wanting more.


E - speaks on five most popular Events that add to the glamour and celebration in my state. 


F - speaks on Fulancho khuris, and the Goan faith in miracles.


G - speaks on Goan Ghost stories, based on the legends associated with some haunted spots. 


H - speaks on Haggling in Goa and provides  you easy shopping tips for a worthwhile shopping experience.


I - speaks on IFFI, the International Film Festival of India held annually in Goa and attended by throngs of cinema aficionado.


J - speaks on some humble Jackfruit delicacies specific to Goa. 


K - speaks on Kunbi sarees, a heritage-saree that is the hallmark attire of women belonging to Goa’s oldest tribe.


L - speaks on Goan Language and linguistics, the local and the adopted.


M - speaks on Mankurad, Goa’s prized mango that has an identity of its own. 


N - speaks on Nostalgia, on the Goa of yesteryears. 


O - speaks on Old Goa, the Church, the Frast, and the Exposition. 


P - speaks on Pao, Poee, and Poder, words you will commonly hear every morning in Goa. Ubiquitous and quintessential, they are responsible for Goa’s breakfast habit. 


Q - speaks on Questions you should never ask a Goan. 


R - speaks on Romancing with Goa and some charming tips to spark up your love life while here. 


S - speaks on Sea, Sun, and Sand; a trip down South-Goa’s spectacular beaches. 


T - speaks on Tiracol fort, the jewel in Goa’s cultural-heritage crown. 


U - speaks on Urrak, Goa’s summer spirit. 


V - speaks on Viva Goa, a cry for victory, a beer, a vibe. 


W - speaks on worship places for the devout Goan.


X - speaks on X-mas celebration in Goa, because that’s the season to be jolly. 


Y - speaks on the Yoga institute, Goa’s holistic approach to yoga and meditation, a side lesser known. 


And last but not the least, tone post that you are reading:

Z - speaks on zooming in on Goa, an overview. A recap of my ‘Obrigado, Goa’ series.


Maybe I will never talk of Goa in the same elaborate manner on the blog again, or maybe I will. Maybe I will never brag about the place, the culture, the people or flaunt its multidimensional features here. Then again, maybe I will. Perhaps this series will reach you in some other format. Perhaps it will greet you in some other form. I still have to work that out.

After all, Goa is always full of possibilities.


For inspiring me to dream and work towards making our dreams come true, today, for the final time on this blog series, I express a sentiment that is always in my heart and say, ‘Obrigado, Goa!’

Wishing you a lot of sushegaad times…

Mog sadach aasu di. 

(Let there always be love!) 


-----------------

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. 

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post.


April 29, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: Y for ‘The Yoga Institute - Goa’s holistic approach.

I've always believed Goa is less of a place and more of a vibe. Until now, my posts spoke about Goa as a tourist destination, an exotic holiday, a place steeped in cultural history and heritage gems, gastronomic delights, and the sushegaad lifestyle. 

However, there is yet another reason people come to Goa. A reason not publicized as much as the other Goan attractions. I’m talking about the spiritual aspect. 

Believe it or not, Goa is one of the best places one can go to for a quiet rendezvous of self discovery and self improvement. 

It is true what they, Goa is indeed a 'state of mind'.

Introducing the Yoga Institute of Goa, a rendezvous with deep introspection and self-discovery. 

Ensconced on the banks of the river Mandovi, just 5 kms away from Panjim, lies the serene island of Chorao. An island surrounded by nature, serenaded by the early morning chirping of birds flying across mango trees that populate the region. 

Now isn’t this an ideal site for a date with nature and your inner self? 

Well, dream no more. Because what you are wishing is already a reality. 


A date right in nature’s lap, surrounded by lush greenery and winding rivers, the Yoga Institure is a spiritual paradise for those who want to explore their inner being. 

We are all aware of the benefits that yoga on the human system. 

Yoga helps to maintain that delicate balance of physical and mental health. It is known for its healing powers and has a therapeutic effect in the mind and body. It helps to alleviate pain, suffering, lethargy, and exhaustion. In fact, a regular practice of Yoga keeps the body, mind, and soul coordinated and in harmony, thus ensuring optimal functioning.

And so the aim of the Institute is to spread as much awareness and knowledge of Yoga as possible. 


The Yoga Institute believes in adopting Yoga as not just a mere practice, but a way of life. The Institute offers a knowledge of varied yogic philosophies and also encourages the student to accept yoga as a culture of consciousness and science of awareness.

Set in picturesque surrounding, the institute has Goan style residential quarters equipped with the latest facilities, an infinity pool and training sessions offering a holistic approach to yoga. 


There are early morning classes with meditation and yoga exercises. Since Yoga works in conjunction with healthy eating habits and mindfulness, the institute also takes care of leisure activities and meals in a engaging and nourishing manner, making your stay here a wholesome experience. A fixed number of ‘Satvik’ meals are provided as these have long term benefits on health. 


The Institute also ensures that the sessions are conducted in a manner and at a time as per your convenience. You can unwind and relax both physically as well as mentally, with a yoga session chosen at a time best suited for you. 

When you aren’t in session, you can indulge in the pleasures of nature by setting your work space at a site overlooking the garden or sit by the pool. When you love what you see and how it makes you feel, work productivity rises exponentially. 


So next time you are craving for a quite getaway from the touristy life in Goa, next time when you want to break away for some inner peace and quiet, do consider staying at the Yoga Institute and awaken your spiritual self.


And before you head back to where you’re coming from, with feelings of equanimity, mindfulness, and an enriched experience in your backpack, don’t forget to think of my series and say, ‘Obrigaado, Goa!


Tomorrow’s post is going to be the final post of my series. So if you have been reading me all throughout, (and even if you haven’t but are reading this) then don’t you miss it.

Until then,

Mog aasu di.

(Let there be love!) 


-----------------

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. 

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post.

April 28, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: Xmas in Goa - it’s the season to be jolly.

If you ask Goans what the best time to visit Goa is, you will get one unanimous answer. ‘December’.

December to us Goans is easily the best time of the year, with everyone in a laidback holiday spirit, welcoming relatives and friends into their home and heart. 

This is the time of the year when most Goans settled abroad make a trip back home. Nostalgia reigns supreme. And this adds to the general bonhomie and joie de vivre in the family. 

Needless to say, the biggest highlight of the season is that it’s Christmas time. 

The Xmas season possesses its own special charm for us Goans. The sound of Church bells and Christmas carols playing across streets, brightly illuminated star-lanterns hanging outside homes and shops, men and women in their best attire setting out for midnight mass, these are some of the common sights you’d see in Goa this time of the year. Christmas is family time, a time to bond with long lost relatives and friends. Christmas is a time when both the young age old come together and make merry.  

One spectacular feature of a Goan Xmas is the nativity scene. You have to witness it to know it. 

Preparations for setting up the nativity scene commences days in advance. The village youth, irrespective of religion, indulge in constructing and setting up. The nativity is an essential element of a Goan Christmas.


The traditional nativity scene includes the manger depicting the birth of baby Jesus and the arrival of the three kings. Some contemporary versions of the nativity scene have modern elements of splendour and celebration. Nowadays, new technology is employed to create an electronic, musical setup that is not just a treat to the eyes but brings alive the spirit of the festival.

However, the main feature of this scene is the crib and that is not a glaring but always a spectacular effort. 

The verdant landscapes Green adorning the crib is usually created by germinating seedlings of millet around a couple of weeks before Xmas so that by December 24 at the achieve the desired height. This is a feature particular to Christmas cribs only in Goa. Sand clay, stone, and other materials are used to make the crib with little figurines of baby Jesus, Mother Mary, the Three Kings, shepherds, and animals for representation. 

The youngsters create new and innovative themes for their cribs every year. They also make decorative items for the Xmas tree, the star and the crib. 


Arrangements start a couple of weeks before Xmas. The Christmas tree is selected, the box of yearly ornaments taken down from the attic, and electrical circuits are checked in preparation. The house is soon to be spruced up for Christmas, with strings of fairy lights adorning its walls and the decked tree strategically placed for all to see and appreciate.

The womenfolk prepare an assortment of Christmas sweets and other delicacies which are to be sent to near and dear ones as ‘Kuswar’ (or ‘Consoada’). This includes most loved delicacies like Kulkuls (curly fried pastry strips dipped in sugar treacle), Guliyo (chewy Rice marbles which are hard to bite), Neuriyos, rose cookies, Bibinca, Doce, Bolinhas Dodol, plum cake, among other things. 

With most of these available in the market, Kuswar nowadays remains a mere formality.  That said, nothing beats the taste of good old traditionally prepared Christmas sweets, made and offered with love.


In the good old days, Christmas meant going Carol singing around the neighbourhood, with one of the kids (usually the most rotund) dressed up as Santa. 

Today, the world has become a far more private place with fears of all sorts lurking in the heart (and for good reason). Also, technology has created quite the boom. And so, out goes the carol singing, and in comes the play station. Out goes the intimate time spent with family bonding over preparation of Christmas sweets. In comes elaborate cake mixing ceremonies in 5 star hotels where you click pictures (for Instagram) with strangers. This too has its upside though. You get to know more people and make new friends, which again, is the essence of Christmas.   

But it is always a pleasure witnessing Christmas celebrations in Goan villages that still maintain tradition and celebrate Xmas the old fashioned way. 

Afterall, extravagance and splendour can never replace simplicity and affection. Love and true Christmas spirit can never go out of fashion, can it? 


So here’s to loving and living the festive spirit not just in December but all year round. Here’s to preserving the old and embracing the new, to keeping us connected with each other and with a higher God. 

To all this, we raise a cheer and say, ‘Obrigado, Goa!


Come back tomorrow for the penultimate feature of my series. 

Until then,

Mog aasu di. 

(Let there be love!) 


-----------------

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. 

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post.


April 27, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: W for Worship places - for the devout Goan.

My post for the letter ‘W’ of my A-Z series, today, is a topic very close to the heart…Worship.

Worship, to me, has always been sacrosanct. It is a way of connecting with a higher subconscience, my faith in a greater God. And that does not need me to visit any temple, mosque, or church. In fact, I think it is more of an intimate relationship rather than a public affair. 

Having said that, I’m aware that a lot of people think otherwise. The ambience of a temple calms their mind. The magnificence of a church soothes their spirit. Temple bells, the Church alter, the comforting presence of other devotees, gives most people a sense of solidarity and community prayer, and probably that is why they prefer to pray at temples than worship their God in their own homes. 


In my life, I have been to a lot of temples before reaching the conclusion that I just cannot pray with my whole mind and soul there. Jostled by people waiting for a darshan, on either sides, I’m either concentrating on safeguarding my purse or myself, and this leaves me with only half the attention on my prayer. 


India is blessed with a large number of worship places. Each state has its own unique places of worship. 

And my Goa, albeit the smallest state, is no different.


So today, I thought why not make a list of all the glorious places of worship my Goa is  blessed with. If you, like me, find it impossible to pray in the crowded premises of a temple or church, then maybe you can pay them a visit for their sheer architectural wonder, the magnitude of their brilliance, an exploration of their history. 

In previous posts of my series, I have spoken about some famous Christian places of worship; famous Goan Churches and shrines. You can read about them here and here

My post today is an extension along the same lines (of devotion). I’m going to talk about Hindu worship places in Goa. 

So further ado, here is a list of temples to visit during your next Goa trip: 

1) Shantadurga temple at Kavlem:

This temple is located in Kavlem village in the Ponda taluka and is dedicated to Goddess ShantaDurga or ‘Santeri’. In the temple, the Goddess is shown as holding two serpents, one in each hand, representing Vishnu and Shiva. 

As the legend goes, Lord Bramha called upon Goddess Parvati to make peace between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu who were fighting a fierce battle. The Goddess placed Vishnu on one hand and Shiva on the other and resolved the fight. The original temple was located at Quelossim in the Salcete taluka. But it was destroyed in the 16th century by the Portuguese, after which the idol of the a goddess was shifted to Kavlem. Initially a small laterite mud shrine was built and the idol was installed. Later, in 1730, the foundation stone for the temple was laid.  It took eight years to complete the construction. 

The temple has a huge tank, a Deepastambha and agrashalas (guest houses).


2) Shri Shantadurga Temple at Quepem, in South Goa.  

With people of all religious faiths coming here to offer their prayers, this temple is a true reflection of peace and communal harmony. 


3) Mangeshi temple 

A perfect combination of modern and traditional architecture, this temple located in Ponda, is bound to take your breath away. Especially when you see it in the evenings when the Deep Stambh is illuminated with a host of glittering diyas.


4) Mahalasa Narayani temple at Mardol 

The temple complex has smaller temples of Goddess Shanta Durga and Lord Vishnu. They are worshipped daily with Mahalasa. The temple is famous for its huge brass Divli/Samai and a huge brass bell that does not have a ringer. Back in the day it was believed that the Goddess Mahalasa would punish any person who lied by ringing the bell with death within three days. Owing to this belief, a testimony in this temple was considered acceptable in the Portuguese court of law. Visit during Navratri to witness this temple in its full splendour. 


5) Mahalakshmi temple in Ponda 

During the 15th century, the original idol of the Goddess was made of black granite. But after this got destroyed during the Portuguese rule, a beautiful Panchloha idol replaced it. Panchloha is a mixture of five metals mixed together, namely, iron, silver, gold, copper, and lead. 


6) No list of temples can ever be complete without mention of a Ganesh temple. I cannot end without mentioning the Maha Ganapati temple in Ponda, which is one of the oldest in the state. Originally located at Divar during Portuguese rule, this temple was moved to Khadepar, Narve, and finally to Khandala (Ponda) where it is located today. One of the major celebrations happening here is on Sankashti Chaturthi…a good time for a visit to pay your obeisance to the Vignaharta.


I could go on and on. Saptakoteshwar, Mahadev temple at Tambdi Surla, Brahma temple at Carambolim, Damodar Sal in Margao, Maruti temple at Altinho, Ganesh temple at Rawanfond, the list is long. 

The temples in Goa are small but beautifully designed with a rich blend of modern and ancient architecture. They are way less crowded than other places, creating an environment of tranquility for devotees visiting from all over the world. 

But at the end of the day, rephrasing the popular saying, I will say,  ‘Mid temples and  churches though we may roam. When it comes to worship, there is no place like home.’ 


For the devotion that Goa inspires in its people, for the faith it keeps strong, and for the rich cultural heritage it has preserved over the ages, we say, ‘Obrigado, Goa!


Come back tomorrow for another riveting feature of my amazing state. 

Until then,

Mog aasu di.

(Let there be love!)


——————

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. 

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post.