The quiet village of Parsem in north Goa remains frozen in time with its echt-Goan character and spirit intact. It is proud of its quirky heritage: the unusual façade of the ancient temple of Goddess Bhagwati, the nearby banyan tree said to be the largest in Goa, the magnificent old sculptures of Brahma, Vishnu, and so on.
For a place this obscure, Parsem has world-class achievements under its belt. The all-women’s professional theatre company formed here in 1917 was among the earliest of its kind. One of India’s finest musicians and the greatest Hindustani violinist of the 20th C, Sridhar Parsekar, was born in the shadow of the Bhagwati temple. He died tragically young but the villagers of Parsem haven’t forgotten him; an annual classical music festival is celebrated in his name. He also composed for Hindi and Marathi films. For more on Parsekar and his music, go here.
Note on pronunciation to non-Konkani speakers: The ‘m’ in the ‘sem’ syllable in Parsem denotes a nasalized ‘se’.
The deepastambha is characteristic of Goa’s Hindu temples but this paired arrangement at the Bhagwati temple is unique.
Notice the kaavi art (sgraffito) on the temple walls.
Subsidiary shrines adjacent to the Bhagwati temple host inestimable treasures such as these images of Vishnu and Brahma.