We recently took several days to visit Goa, a small state and former Portuguese colony on the western coast of India. For one of our outings, we hired a local driver, “Seby”, to take us around for the better part of the afternoon, to see some of the local sights. One of the places we stopped was the Shri Mangesh Temple – which we discovered later, “has recently banned entry of foreigners into the temple citing objectionable dressing and conduct as the reason” (Wikipedia). Though we didn’t know this at the time, we thankfully did nothing to exacerbate this situation further.
Approaching the pink gate (photo below), we passed a crowd of people outside the gate looking like they were preparing to conduct a procession through the town. But more on that later!
Given that this was an important day in the festival of Dasara, the temple was apparently much more crowded than normal. Elderly ladies were lining the street on the approach to the temple selling plates with typical offerings for the “pooja”: flowers, a few bananas, a coconut, and some incense. There was also a small square of cloth folded into a triangle, and several packets wrapped in newspaper: uncooked rice and a pinch each of yellow turmeric and red kumkum.
Entering the gate (photo above), one passes the tank (below), thought to be the oldest part of the temple. After this is the magnificent white “deepsthamba” or lamp tower which stands seven storeys tall. We did not photograph the temple itself, having been warned earlier that this was not permitted, but a photo can be found here. At the entrance to the temple, a guard, seeing our large cameras, gave a stern warning that the deity was not to be photographed, so probably photographing the temple would have been fine.
So we finished with the temple itself, and as we came out and made our way around the crowd gathered outside the gate, the musicians at the front of the group suddenly started to play and we found ourselves in the middle of a temple procession carrying a deity through the village.
We let them go on their way but enjoyed seeing the colorful processional move through the streets of the village which had been decorated for the occasion with kolams and other decorations. At each house they would pause, the musicians would take a break, and the family at the house would place offerings on the chariot carrying the deity while the area was bathed in incense smoke. A short barrage of firecrackers would follow, and then the processional would move on to the next house.
The whole village was involved in this event. The video below gives more insight into the procession, which we just happened to catch at the right time during our visit.