“Sotreo” Umbrella Festival in Cuncolim

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The traditional “sotreo” umbrella festival is celebrated in Cuncolim with great pomp and gaiety. Thousands of devotees from far and wide pour into Cuncolim to seek blessings of Shree Shantadurga Kunkalikarin as the annual procession wend its way from Fatorpa Temple.

The colourful procession carrying the palki of Shree Kunkalinkarin wends its way through the same old route by which the deity was brought to Fatorpa centuries ago by fleeing Hindus carrying the image to safety. The idol of the Goddess is taken back to the original site at Cuncolim thus re-enacting the migration of the Goddess and many Hindu families who fled Salcette to preserve their faith. This marks the famous festival known as the Sontreo (procession of umbrellas) because it is led by twelve colourful umbrellas atop tall poles of metal or carved wood. Each umbrella is different and stands for one of the twelve vangodds (clans) clans of the Cuncolim area and there is only one red umbrella. These are carried by youths who jump and prance about during the entire length of the procession, while carrying the umbrellas. All males participating in this festival are smeared with red powder, handfuls of which are tossed into the air around the advancing palanquin.

The deity is brought in a procession from Fatorpa to Cuncolim, each year, on Panchami day in the month of Phalguna. The deity is ceremoniously taken to the original place where it was enshrined, to the accompaniment of traditional folk music and twelve silk umbrellas. The procession passes through the vaddos of Molanguinim, Biunsa, Voddy, Tolliebhatt, Markutt and Demani and from Molangini to Fatorpa.

The village of Cuncolim was the original site of the famous temple of Shree Shantadurga before this was demolished by the Portuguese in collaboration with the Christian missionaries. The Holy idol of Shree Shantadurga was taken to Fatorpa where the new temple of Shree Shantadurga Kunkalikarin stands today.

Photos by Lynn Barreto Miranda / lynn.barretomiranda.com

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