Religious and cultural heritage of Goa.
The next installment in my ongoing series features the Vetal from Priol, once a village of great beauty, shade, and quiet. These images, taken in 2007, assume an added sense of value as historic records given the pervasive trend of taking down the old temples on the pretext of renovating them. The results of this new Goan preoccupation are, to put it mildly, ghastly.
The ancient deity of Vetal, its iconography and associated rituals, are important elements of, and unique to, Goa‘s Hindu tradition. The deity was most likely worshipped by the Austric Gauda tribe, Goa‘s earliest settlers, and later embraced by the Nath Panthis between the 10th & 13th C. Eventually it came to be absorbed into the larger Hindu pantheon.
A mere 50 or so out of the hundreds of ancient Vetal sites in Goa survived the iconoclasm by the Portuguese. Every single site in the Bardez and Tiswadi talukas was destroyed.
Traditionally the images of Vetal were cast out in the open with provision for a simple roof overhead. After all, as the village protector, he was expected to be out on his nightly patrol. To this day, offerings of footwear are made at his temples. Buffalo sacrifice was once common but is now far less so. Fowl and goat are still routinely offered.
For more, see the link above.