The Narakasura Festival, Goa

October 20, 2014

[A post from 2010 on the occasion of Diwali & Narakasur]

Goa. Narakasur. Pre-Diwali.

A unique folk festival that I noticed for the first time in 2004  then became more and more tuned in every subsequent year.

Krishna killed demon Narakasura on this pre-Diwali night and Hindus in Goa (and some other parts of southern India) re-enact the scene by building straw Narakasuras and then burning them down amidst celebrations.

Here in Goa, people in every neighbourhood build their very own Narakasura for this festival. In the city, a straw demon can be spotted at approximately every 100 meters and in the village at every 500m.

Constructing these two storey tall straw men is not easy – and takes about 10 days of effort. Materials have to be gathered, the design needs to be worked out creatively and finally the actual construction needs to be implemented. People of all ages work on the construction – with the older people providing guidance and experience,  the youth carrying the responsibility and the kids being given the fun and easy tasks. The women of the house provide the flow of festive snacks and the motivation.

Three days before Diwali, I invited myself to the group that was building one in my neighbourhood, and helped in gluing and painting their work of art. We’d begin working after dinner sitting in the compound, amidst newspapers, music and finger foods and continue past midnight.  In the rush to get the demon standing upright on the last night, we hardly slept – since the evil demon that we had just created had to be vanquished at 4am.

A photo-journey through the amazing state of Goa during Narakasura season…

Hay, sticks, paper, metal, clothes, glue and firecrackers go into building these.

Every corner is crowded with groups of young people – some planning and building the Naraksura, others just enjoying the festive spirit.

The final product…creative colors, creative masks an creative situational elements!

Although the roots are religious, everyone participates in this festival, and the group that took me in and allowed me to join into their fun activity was an all-catholic bunch of teenagers.

The final moments – setting the demon on fire…

Pre dawn burning…

The end of one more energising festival that bonds the community closer. The build up for weeks leading to the final spectacular climax…..through teamwork and positive soul fulfilling positive spirits!

What a festival, what a place!!

jm

photos from 2008 (pre-SLR)

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