Zatra of Shantadurga Kuncolienkarin, Fatorpa.

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One of the most famous zatra of Goa is celebrated at the temple of Shantadurga Kuncolienkarin, Fatorpa.

During celebrations devotees from all over Goa, belonging to different religions, communities and castes come to worship the deity. The zatra is held for five days during Paushya Shuddha Panchami up to Dashmi of the Hindu calendar. The highlight of the celebrations is the chariot procession on four days. The first day is called Hathi Ambari, which is an elephant chariot. The second day is the procession of the flower chariot popularly known as Fulancho rath. On the third day is the procession of the Vijayrath, a chariot of horses and the last is the Maharath procession, also the main chariot that is thronged by crowds of devotees. It marks the finale of the zatra rituals.

The deity Parvati is known in Goa as Shantadurga in whose honour a temple is built at Fatorpa of the Salcette Taluka. Shantadurga is a combination of two words: Kumk (Kumkum or Sindur) and aali (meaning saffron colour). In the past Fatorpa was known as Kumkummahali and is referred to by the sons of the soil as punyabhumi. Shantadurga means ‘peaceful Durga’.

The temple of Shantadurga has a very interesting history. The beautiful temple of Kuncoliencarin was originally built in Cuncolim, where today exist the market. During the Portuguese rule, in the 1570s, the original temple in Cuncolim was destroyed, but the image of Shantadurga was taken away to Fatorpa, which at that time remained outside the Portuguese territory for almost two centuries. A new temple was built in the village of Fatorpa, where she remains till today. Fatorpa was absorbed into Goa as part of the Quepem Taluka in the 18th century. It would be pertinent to mention herewith that the first revolt against the Portuguese domination took place at Cuncolim, where the Jesuit missionaries involved in evangelisation were attacked by the locals and killed. In retaliation, the Portuguese destroyed the temple and imposed many decisions against neo-converts. The mahajans of the temple were the twelve Kshatriya clans of the village of Cuncolim.

The devasthan of the temple has 12 vangods, comprising 12 different communities. It is interesting to note that these 12 vangods of the devasthan are required for the commencement of any socio-religious rituals of the village, and that of the temple. All religious and social functions are done at the order of these 12 persons. It is believed that the deity, the Kulswamini of the 12 vangods, has two forms. In her calm form, she is motherly and helpful, while her other form is referred to as Devi Durga, the fierce destroyer of all evils. In all the four directions of the temple one can see four forms of the idol. Idols of Navgrahas, Kalbhairav, Tandavnritya, Kaliamardan, Hirenyakashphu, Ugradevta are housed in the temple.

Many myths and legends are associated with Shantadurga. When the Shantadurga temple was constructed, the gaunkars had difficulty in installing the deity because it was too heavy and the priests could not carry it inside. They gathered and prayed for some solution. The goddess appeared in their dream and told them to prepare the way and that She would go herself. They decorated the floor with flowers. In the morning the statue was inside and there were foot prints on the petals.

Article by Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues from Navhind Times

Photos by Lynn Barreto Miranda / lynn.barretomiranda.com

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