Sanjeev V Sardesai
When we hear the name Goa, the first image that starts to form is generally of foot tapping music, exotic sea food, an expanse of seas and sun kissed golden beaches; while a few reminiscence the unique architecture of the temples, churches and mosques.
The agenda and itinerary of a visitor to Goa is rarely amiss of a visit to these above locales, to enjoy and savour the Goan essence. However, the true essence of Goa lies not only along its coastline, but in the parallel layers of its land, as it travels from the Arabian Sea rising towards the Sahayadri Range or the Western Ghats, where the mighty peaks, romance the clouds.
The coastline of Goa, shared with the Arabian Sea, measures approximately about 105 kilometres from the northern areas of Pernem Taluka, shared with Maharashtra State to the southern borders, shared with Karnataka State, comprising of the Canacona Taluka. Our travels during the last 97 articles of ‘Unexplored Goa’, have led us to many of the areas in the North, Central and Eastern regions. Today, we will travel to the Southern locales of Painguinnim and Partagal – not to be confused with Portugal.
According to the book ‘Paingyashram’ written by Vasudev V Phal Desai, Poinguinnim or Painguinnim village has been named after a revered sage or ‘rishi’ by the name of Painggi, who had established his ashram in these lands near River Kushawati, close to the temple of Lord Parshuram.
These lands in Canacona can be considered the most important amongst Goan lands, because here lies the temple of Lord Parshuram, the legendary creator of the Goan and the Konkan lands.
According to the Indian scriptures – the ‘Sahayadri Khand’ of the ‘Skanda Purana’, Lord Parshuram created these new lands by “shooting a series of seven arrows, from the Sahayadri mountains, commanding the Sea God to recede to the points, where fell his arrows”. In Goa, it is surmised that one arrow fell in a place called as Banna-Halli (‘banna’ meaning- ‘arrow’ and ‘halli’ meaning ‘village’ in Kannada), which we today know, through its Portuguese corrupted name, as Benaulim.
Also nearby, and approximately about 3.5 to 4 kilometres lies the seat of the religious head or swami of the Hindu sect at the Sri Saunsthan Gokarn Partagali Jeevottam Mutth. Based in an impressive edifice, with an extended facade, this religious institution lies on the banks of River Kushawati. According to their website, this religious institution was established, around the year 1475 A D, corresponding to the Hindu calendar date of Chaitra Shukla Dwitiya of Shalivahan Saka 1397, by Param Poojya Shrimat Narayan, catering to the spiritual needs of the Goud Saraswat Brahmin community.
One very important aspect must be kept in mind before visiting the Lord Parshuram Temple of Poinguinnim. Regrettably, a disrespectful act of defilement of the idol, by a foreigner under the influence of liquor, has brought strictures by the authorities, wherein foreigners are not allowed with the temple precincts. This aspect, if known earlier to a visit here can avoid an awkward situation, if accompanied by foreigners.
The temple of Sri Parshuram at Velvadda in Poinguinnim retains its Goan architecture and does not display much modern additions and upgrading. The temple itself is a very different from other temples. The unique feature here is that opposite the ‘Garbhagriha’ of Lord Parshuram is the temple of Sri Purushottam Dev; though these are two separate temple structures, they look like one and hence this temple may be referred to as Sri Parshuram – Purushottam Dev temple.
One aspect that catches the eye of the visitor is that the image of Lord Parshuram, as is usually portrayed – a tall, bearded sage, carrying a bow and arrows and holding the “parshu” or the ‘hand-axe’ is not seen here. Here the idol is like any other icon with regular deity features. To the left of the icon, in the sanctum sanctorum, is another deity by name Goudi.
The hall or ‘mandap’ in front of the idol of Sri Parshuram is rectangular in shape and has six beautifully carved, wooden pillars. The central pillar, in this mandap, and towards the western side, is used to affix the small locally available flowers, for the ‘oracle’ or ‘the prasad’. The temple lake of this Sri Parshuram Temple is behind the sanctum sanctorum and displays stepped-sides.
Every three years, there is a famous festival called as ‘Poinguinneche Gade’ hosted opposite the Sri Vetal Temple nearby. A year prior to this festival, another ritual is held called as the ‘taka’, pronounced as ‘toko’. This is the divine invitation – a 6foot x 6foot velvet cloth embroidered with rich mythological figures and letterings in Devnagri script, sent by the presiding deity Sri Vetal to all the presiding deities around Poinguinnim village. This traditional practice of inviting the deities for the Gade festival is initiated by sending the invitation to the Sri Parshuram Temple.
However, a travel such as this requires you to carry a lot of water and dry eats owing to the absence of any shops in the vicinity. However, please note that protocol in these religious places, must be rigidly followed to avoid any unsavoury incidences.