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Gajalaxhmi: The goddess of Rain

The worship of Mother Earth remains the epicenter of our heritage and culture. In India, its mountains, rivers, trees, animals and nature as whole are honored and revered, seeing these objects as manifest divine creations. Water has been the perennial source of life and livelihood. It is water out of which emerged the life-producing earth, which further gave birth to the jungle. The bond between water (jal), forest (jungle) and land (jamin) is an inseparable one. But, man in the name of development has not only devastated land and jungle, but has also exploited water to such an extent that it has reached the brink of doom. Today, water occupies the center stage in world politics and the world powers are competing to control the water spread over three-fourth of the earth’s surface.
Eleven important rivers bless Goa and among these, the Mhadai or Mandovi is the largest river, which furnishes a major share of fresh water to the state. Mhadei means the ‘The Great Mother’. Indeed, such is the impact, influence and importance of Mhadei in the life, culture and economy of Sattari taluka that people consider her indispensable for their existence. The number of carved images of Goddess Gajalaxmi scattered in various villages of Sattari show a great and popular cult of mother goddess worship in this area from ancient times. Sattari is a veritable store house of invaluable ecological and cultural resources. Sattari presents a picture of culture in the lap of nature sculptures of astounding beauty and artistic merit.
Gajalakshmi or Gajalaxmi or Kelbai: The people worship her as the Great Mother. The Gajalaxami panels with royal emblem of Goa Kadamba at Gullem, in Sattari, shows that this region was once under the rule of Goa Kadambas.
(The author is a teacher)

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