Friday , 19 April 2019

Shishirotsav at Ponda

Ponda is generally identified as the cultural capital of Goa. At the time of Shigmotsav, there are several other customs and rituals performed in and around the town. One such tradition is that of ‘Shishirotsav’ consisting of ‘Navryachi Miravnuk’ and ‘Veerabhadra’.
Navryachi Miravnuk is a role play that is being performed in Ponda for the past 69 years. It is held on the night of the Veerabhadra. The act involves a ‘navro’ (groom), ‘bodki’ (a man disguised as girl, to sit as a ‘karavli’ besides the groom as in a traditional Hindu wedding), a bhat (priest) and ‘kalvata’ (children or men disguised as women who play pranks on the priest during the act). The drama begins with the navro, bodki and the bhat walking down the road towards the temple to conduct the wedding ceremony. While they are on their way, the kalavatas play pranks on priest. As soon as they reach the temple, a group of people move across the road carrying a person who plays dead. Upon seeing the disguised dead person before the auspicious event and as it is considered inauspicious in the Hindu tradition, the groom, priest and bodki return home and therein the act ends.
This tradition was initially started as a mere ritual within the village area of Ponda, but a few interested people upgraded it. The play is now attended by the hundreds from several places around Goa and Karnataka. Besides, only an unmarried man is selected as a navro. It is said that those who participate as navro will get married soon after the performance.
An 88-year-old Chandrakant Purshottam Shet Parkar alias Kanta Parkar says: “I have been playing the role of a bhat for around 66 years, starting at the age of 18. I have enjoyed this miravnuk (procession).” Kanta says, “In an act, Kalvatas are supposed to annoy me. They can play any kinds of pranks with the priest. Many a times they would play with my clothes, or push me and I would fall down, but with God’s grace I’ve never got hurt. And since I have been playing the role for so many years, people now consider me a bhat,” says Kanta.
Kanta has won more than 80 felicitations for this enactment. It is only until recently that old age has forced him to retire and pass the baton to his nephew, Swapnil Shet Parkar who has now been selected to play the role in the act. “Many people ask us whether this ritual runs in the family. I tell them it doesn’t. It depends on who are interested in participating in the act.”
Swapnil shares his views: “I have grown up watching the act and was always interested in it. And I am thankful to my wife who has encouraged me to take up the role of the bhat in the act.”
“With no expectations, my uncle served God for so many years and even I want to serve without any expectations,” says Swapnil who will be performing for the fourth time in the navryachi miravnuk.
After ‘Navryachi Miravnuk’, the ritual of ‘Veerabhadra’ takes place at Ponda. While navryachi miravnuk is based on the lines of drama, Veerabhadra is based on the mythological tale of Raja Daksha and Lord Shiva.
Veerabhadra is said to be originated from a single strand of hair that was thrown on to earth by Lord Shiva upon learning of Goddess Sati’s death. According to the mythological tales, despite Shiva’s warnings, Goddess Sati went to her father, Daksha’s, yajna to ask why her husband, Shiva, was not invited for the yajna (sacrifice). Daksha insulted Sati and Shiva. Unable to bear the insults, she immolates herself. Upon hearing the news of Sati’s immolation, lord Shiva removed a strand of hair from his matted locks and threw it to the ground in anger of which Veerabhadra is said to have been originated.

(Navryachi Miravnuk and Veerabhadra will be held at the night of April 6, 2016 between 10 p.m. and 1.00 a.m.)

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