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Damodar Saptah

Location: Goa, India
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Damodar Saptah

Location – Vasco Da Gama city

Highlights - Perhaps the biggest festival in Goa in terms of sheer number of vendor stalls, the crowds and the duration of its celebration. At night, beautifully decorated tableaux, with mythological themes are brought in procession to the temple from various parts of the town by different groups of the community.

Date of Celebration – Starts a day after Nag Panchami (usually August)

Duration – Seven days (Saptah means a week)

  • Year        Date of Celebration

  • 2014                    2nd August

  • 2015                    20th August

  • 2016                    8th August

  • 2017                    28th August

  • 2018                    16th August

Attractions

The festival which is more than a hundred years old is celebrated in the temple of Damodar on Swatantrata Path in Vasco and it is also the venue of the biggest festival in the town called the Vasco Saptah. In the Hindu month of Shravan (August), this week long celebration coincides with the festivals associated with the lord Shiva, Nag Panchami.

The story is such that in 1896 when people began dying due to an epidemic that broke out in Vasco, the local turned to an avatar of Shiva, lord Damodar for help. A sacred coconut, which was installed at Vasco as a divine symbol to be worshipped, was brought from the famous Damodar Temple at Zambaulim (22km from Margao). The epidemic abated as their devotion bore fruit. The residence of a leading citizen was donated to install an idol of lord Damodar. Even now this small temple attached to the original house is the main venue during the celebration.

The festival begins at the old Mata high school with prayers being offered. Before being immersed in the sea, the last year's coconut is taken out in the procession, which is followed by a troupe of dancers as it visits Vasco's prominent citizens. With the spectators throwing buckets of water and also by the monsoon rain, the dancers get fully drenched.

The devotees return to the temple after the immersion ceremony and while singing devotional songs that continue non-stop for 24 hours, the new coconut is anointed. There is a parade of tableaux in the night and during the entire week culture and religious programs are held. The best time to visit the temple is on any Monday or Thursday at around 9 pm when lamps are lit and devotional songs are sung.

All along the roads and by lanes of the city of Vasco, the vendors put up their make-shift stalls. The vendors come from all over India to sell everything from trinkets and toys to furniture and the clothes latest in fashion. The usually drab and sedate port-town wears a festive look with gay decorations and huge, noisy crowds visiting the temple and the stalls throughout the week.