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Gods that move

For the last 38 years, Tulshidas Kavlekar and his friends have been creating dekhawas depicting various gods and goddesses at Ribandar. NT BUZZ finds out what sets these dekhawas apart from the rest

ANNOUSHKA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ

If you are travelling down Saper Panvlim Highway (which goes from Panaji towards Ribandar  and beyond), chances are you may spot a colourful scene that will make you pause.

Indeed, the dekhawa created by Tulshidas Kavlekar and his friends draws people from all around including from Mapusa, Panaji, Corlim, etc. And has been doing so for the past 38 years.

Having first begun making these on a small scale in their homes in Ribandar, Kavlekar and co gradually moved towards making the dekhawa a community programme

“Every year a beautifully decorated palki of Lord Krisha sets out from the Maruti Temple, Panaji and at that time we started the dekhawa which also means a scene on a grand scale,” says Kavlekar. The theme for the same is centred around a god. This year, it focuses on Sai Baba.

The preparations to create this dekhawa begin right after Ganesh Chaturthi and it takes Kavlekar a month to complete the work. “Creating the art, drawing the images, the welding and recreating the temple scene takes a month. Most of the dekhawas in Goa are not mechanised. However I ensure that mine always is,” he says.

Kavlekar adds that when a dekhawa is mechanised it grabs people’s attention and they stay longer to watch it. “People spend more than 10 minutes watching my dekhawa because of its movements, if it wasn’t mechanised people would just have a glance at it and move forward,” admits Kavlekar.  In fact, sometimes his dekhawas are designed in such a way that the characters dance thus leaving people amused.

In fact, Kavlekar has received praises for his portrayal of an active scene in the dekhawa as many people come to see it after taking a look at the narkasurs. “I have received much praise from people for creating a dekhawa that depicts a holy deity. After looking at narkasurs, people tell me that they want to see God,” he says, adding that  his dekhawa is the only one that centres around God and thus draws more people.

And Kavlekar credits his neighbours for their constant support and encouragement. “The villagers brought me into the forefront of this project and supported me,” says Kavlekar. He also credits MLAs, Shripad Naik and Siddharth Kunkolkar among others for their financial support and for making the dekhawa more extravagant and popular. “It was due to their support that that we could take this dekhawa on a grand scale and we gained more popularity. People from all over Goa started coming in to see the dekhawa,” says Kavlekar.

While the project was started by five of them, the others have all passed away and Kavlekar has decided to carry this forward in order to honour them. He adds that as long as he is in good health he will continue to make such dekhawas. “I’ve been doing this for 38 years now and if I stop people will wonder what went wrong,” he says.

However this year things were not easy for Kavlekar as he admits to have faced financial difficulties. “I managed to borrow money from a friend with a promise of paying it later and continued with this year’s dekhawa,” he admits.

Kavlekar also believes that without the help of his family and his neighbours who helped him with labour and other aspects, this would not be an easy task. “A person cannot clap with one hand, he needs both his hands. In the same way without any help from them this would not be successful,” he says.

(The dekhawa of Sai Baba will be on display till November 6, 7 p.m. onwards along the Saper
Panvlim Highway)

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