The wedding of the sacred plant Tulsi – known as Tulsi lagna or Tulsi vivah – was celebrated in Hindu households throughout Goa on the evening of Oct 30. I meandered through the villages of Chorão and Tikhazana, sampling the primed Tulsi Vrindavans of varied designs and the associated festivities.

Traditional Tulsi fashioned from clay in Tikhazana, Goa<br>5D Mark II, 85L II

Traditional Tulsi fashioned from clay in Tikhazana, Goa
5D Mark II, 85L II

Tulsi in Tikhazana built on laterite base and plastered with cow dung<br>5D Mark II, 24-105L

Tulsi in Tikhazana built on laterite base and plastered with cow dung
5D Mark II, 24-105L

A contemporary Tulsi Vrindavan in Tikhazana<br>5D Mark II, 24-105L

A contemporary Tulsi Vrindavan in Tikhazana
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Chandrakala Mapari of Chorão in her Tulsi courtyard<br>5D Mark II, 85L II

Chandrakala Mapari of Chorão in her Tulsi courtyard
5D Mark II, 85L II

Chandrakala Mapari cooking in her traditional kitchen<br>5D Mark II, 24-105L

Chandrakala Mapari cooking in her traditional kitchen
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Tulsi Vrindavan in Chorão<br>5D Mark II, 85L II

Tulsi Vrindavan in Chorão
5D Mark II, 85L II

Offering prayers in Tikhazana<br>5D Mark II, 24-105L

Offering prayers in Tikhazana
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Pooja in progress in Chorão<br>5D Mark II, 24-105L

Pooja in progress in Chorão
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Deepavali lamp in Chorão

Deepavali lamp in Chorão
5D, 85L II

  • […] here for photographs from an earlier post on the Tulsi […]ReplyCancel

  • […] here for photographs from an earlier post. Tulsi Vrindavan5D, 24-105L   Offerings to Tulsi5D, […]ReplyCancel

  • savita chandiramani - November 1, 2012 - 7:58 am

    Enjoyed the varieties of Tulsi Vrindavans you phtographed.ReplyCancel

  • Prashant - September 27, 2010 - 9:11 am

    Thats really I miss such things in busy cities like mumbai….I would definately like to eat that rice cooked in that vesselReplyCancel

  • S Naik - November 8, 2009 - 5:44 pm

    Dear Rajan:
    Your pictures bring back lots of nostalgic memories.
    Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Xanno Moidecar - November 8, 2009 - 8:59 am

    Dear Rajan

    The memories of my Hindu friends from Moira. Every one of their houses hosted one. A warm glow envelopes my heart.


    Xanno MoidecarReplyCancel

  • Akshar - November 8, 2009 - 5:35 am

    Wonderful Pics Sir.
    Are this pictures available under Creative Commons license ?ReplyCancel

  • proveen almeida - October 31, 2009 - 1:15 pm

    Beautiful pictures Mr. Rajan, the faces of simple humble people adds more charm to the pics. It takes me back to the times when we used to celeberate Tulsi Lagn at my friends place.ReplyCancel

  • Nachiketa Sharma - October 31, 2009 - 11:18 am

    Terrific pictures, Rajan. The colours and moods of the pictures burst with vibrancy. Tulsidevi has much reason to rejoice in Goa! In response to the previous post, *not* gone are the days. I take pride in saying ours was the only home on our street (and possibly in our city of Cupertino, California?) to hang a beautiful, hand-crafted aakaashdeep on our apricot tree. Ah, just the sight brought back my childhood days of Deepavali in Dharwad.ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - October 31, 2009 - 10:28 am

    Nice series Rajan. In our part of Goa (Saligao) there is quite a bit of action during Tulsi Vivah with the priest zipping on a hero honda from one house to the other, fireworks and large crowds following in their finest clothing.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - October 31, 2009 - 6:58 am

    The Indian love of color is amply displayed in this series 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Shrikant Barve - October 31, 2009 - 6:22 am

    Comment on Last photo : Gone are the days….
    Few decades back there was competition among enthusiatic players to hang the Akaash Divo at highest point usually on a mango or Jack fruit tree.

    With use of gadi (wooden pulley ) and string. Akaash Divo was brough down with the help of Gadi and string to light it with Panati or Candle. Its a regular ceremony every evening for 15 days.

    Second last Photo. : Tulsi lagna is over.
    Jodvi in relation to number of Savastni in family including leased premises are offered.ReplyCancel

In the village of Shirgaon in Goa‘s Bicholim taluka lies the old temple of Goddess Lairai, a form of the Mother Goddess. The annual jatra (festival) associated with this shrine features unusual customs & rituals drawn from the area’s tribal past. Lairai-devi and Milagres Saibinn (Virgin Mary) of nearby Mapusa are recognized as sisters by Goan Hindus and Catholics, an illustration of Goa‘s syncretic ethos.

In recent years, Shirgaon, alas, has been laid to waste by unchecked mining activity. To the environmental assassins on the loose in Goa, nothing is sacred. They have reduced this once-beautiful village to a dust bowl, destroyed its forest cover, and plotted to turn villager against villager.

If the photograph below does not betray the surrounding ugliness, it is only because I have framed the composition to exclude the devastation. In truth, the Lairai temple shot was taken from a vantage point located in the mine enveloping it.

Temple of Goddess Lairai in Shirgaon, Goa<br>5D, 24-105L

Temple of Goddess Lairai in Shirgaon, Goa
5D, 24-105L

Aniconic representation of Goddess Lairai<br>5D, 24-105L

Aniconic representation of Goddess Lairai
5D, 24-105L

  • Ameya narvekar - August 8, 2016 - 3:29 am

    Very beautiful temple and place to visit.ReplyCancel

  • sumedh c. desai - May 9, 2016 - 8:15 am

    ” wonderful scenery, feels cool”ReplyCancel

  • Deepa - March 16, 2015 - 5:45 am

    Beautiful Picture of the temple ..I come from the same place..Shirgao! TY for the beautiful pic!ReplyCancel

  • Rajesh Mulgaonkar - May 15, 2013 - 6:28 am

    hi rajan,

    Excellent picture of godess lairai.hats off to you.ReplyCancel

  • milind sardessai - May 14, 2013 - 9:28 am

    Egr bab Rajan
    The festival of Shridevi Lairai is on. Tomo is the homkund.

    Milind SardessaiReplyCancel

  • hemant bavkar - May 21, 2012 - 2:24 am

    Dear Sir,

    We are finding our kuldaivat “Mauli Bhagavti devi temple” in shirgaon ,goa. We lost our daiwats information around 300 years back. One astrologer told us our daiwat is lacated in shirgaon goa. but we arent get succes yet to find our temple.
    If you have any information about our temple please inform me on my mail id… thanksReplyCancel

  • Prashant - September 27, 2010 - 9:01 am

    Hi Rajan,

    The Picture is execllent.its a real goa what it denote in the picture. I hope people will understand the beauty and purity of this place.ReplyCancel

  • Venantius J Pinto - December 8, 2009 - 11:16 am

    What struck me about this image is that the colors as seen in this “spectra” may be experienced almost exclusively in India. The energy emanating from the scene as captured in the image is very impressive.

    A thought: It may be worth considering images; something that you may already have photographed — to show the threat that mars the balance and serenity of spiritual sites. How these incursions via lack of focus and planning creates unenlightened resonances of mind and spirit. I am not suggesting that you sacrifice your central focus, and believe you have other images that reveal the mine. This is a broad thought and not meant to exhort you towards acting on it.

    I believe this is another way that awareness builds up. Perhaps not exactly in our life time though.ReplyCancel

  • sameer - November 17, 2009 - 4:34 am

    Liked the dramatic effect of the Panjim ChurchReplyCancel

  • Arun - October 26, 2009 - 8:37 pm

    “…are bothers and sisters”.

    May I never be a bother to anyone 🙂 And may the Mother of Jesus and Lairai Devi work jointly or separately to preserve Goa! I have never seen Goa, but Rajan’s photography shows its great beauty.ReplyCancel

  • Mario Goveia - October 25, 2009 - 6:28 pm

    Notwithstanding Fr. Ivo’s narrow-minded objection, I think the Milagres Saibinn would be quite pleased to be recognized as the sister of Lairai Devi. Having a foster sister from another religion takes nothing away from HER exalted position as the Mother of Jesus. Such conceptual relationships is what made the camaraderie between Hindus and Christians so special and unique in Goa, until the fanatics, who think they have a special claim on “the truth”, come along to bollix it all up.ReplyCancel

  • jc - October 25, 2009 - 1:42 pm

    As a practising Roman Catholic, I a appalled by Fr. Ivo’s comments.I ask Fr Ivo on what basis he makes those comments. Is it also inaccurate for me to say that Hindu and Christian Goans are bothers and sisters.ReplyCancel

  • Bosco - October 25, 2009 - 9:59 am

    Your choice of a vantage point in most of your photos is FANTASTIC!! Brings the best out of the object of the photos.ReplyCancel

  • Ivo da C.Souza - October 25, 2009 - 7:46 am

    I liked the photos. This brings to our mind the diversity of representations of divine power. The only point that I must correct in the write-up is that the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, cannot be sister of godess Lairai. Catholics cannot maintain it. Anyway, we must work for the welfare of all. All religions should be for our integral human development.ReplyCancel

  • Xanno Moidecar - October 25, 2009 - 4:36 am

    Hi Rajan

    What a beautiful sight. You must have photographed this sometime in the monsoon.

    I remember landscapes like this. In my memeories.


    Xanno MoidecarReplyCancel

  • Shrikant Barve - October 25, 2009 - 3:26 am

    Jatra season in Goa starts with Madkai Jatra in Oct/Nov and ends with Shirgao Jatra in May.

    Shirgao jatra is also know for Homkund (Fire pile) where in Dhond (deciple of Goddess Lairai) after 10 days fasting run on fire.ReplyCancel

  • sunny nazareth - October 25, 2009 - 1:39 am

    Fantastic picture with full environmental consciousness. Excellent write-up too!. Could we have some more pictures and articles of other fabulous Goan places?. Sunny Nazareth,President Kuwait Goa Foundation,NGO based in Kuwait.ReplyCancel

  • gaspar almeida - October 25, 2009 - 1:11 am

    Excellent picture with write-up. Very informative indeed.

    Gaspar Almeida
    Moderator, Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994)

Built in the 9th century AD by Raja Chand, the magnificent Chand Baori in the village of Abhaneri near Jaipur, Rajasthan, combines Geometry, Engineering and Art. This stepwell features 13 levels and is 19.8 metres deep.

Despite being a structure of great historical importance, its upkeep leaves much to be desired.

Section of the Chand Baori in the mellow evening light<br>5D, 24-105L

Section of the Chand Baori in the mellow evening light
5D, 24-105L

All the 13 levels of the Chand Baori<br>5D, 24-105L

All the 13 levels of the Chand Baori
5D, 24-105L

Close-up in B&W<br>5D, 24-105L

Close-up in B&W
5D, 24-105L

  • sudheer sharma - June 29, 2010 - 4:07 pm


    rajan beautiful pics but i thing this all shot long time ago .
    thanks for share these beautiful pics . if possible share more pics this site .


The Hindu festival of Diwali (Deepavali) has multiple interpretations, all having their basis in the triumph of virtue over vice.

One version tells of the vile Narkasur, embodiment of the forces of darkness (tamas), ignorance (avidya) and baseness (adharma). The puranas recount his comeuppance at the hands of Krishna who deployed the sudarshan-chakra to behead the fiend. Narkasur‘s vanquishment lead to the restoration of dharma, and the Diwali celebrations represent a renewal of the memory of Krishna‘s triumphal moment.

In Goa is prevalent the quaint practice – perhaps unique in India – of the reenactment of the Narkasur mythos. On the eve of Diwali, effigies of Narkasur are mounted at village squares and towns. After a night of boisterous revelry, they are consigned to flames at dawn. In recent years, the merriment has assumed comical proportions with an explosion in the count of Narkasurs on display (perhaps an apt allegory of the times).

As a boy I looked forward to the Narkasur Nite, and the preparations in the days leading to it animated us little fellas. Although much has changed since those days, the spirit of the event persists. These photographs were taken in 2007.

My little nephew Yash prepping his Narkasur<br>5D, 24-105L

My little nephew Yash prepping his Narkasur
5D, 24-105L

My nephew & niece and their friends<br>5D, 24-105L

My nephew & niece and their friends
5D, 24-105L

Narkasur in Khandola, Goa<br>5D, 24-105L

Narkasur in the village of Khandola, Goa
5D, 24-105L

Narkasur in Bhatlem, Panjim, Goa<br>5D, 24-105L

Narkasur in Bhatlem, Panjim, Goa
5D, 24-105L

Narkasur in Santa Ines, Panjim, Goa<br>5D, 24-105L

Narkasur in Santa Ines, Panjim, Goa
5D, 24-105L

  • Diwali 2013 » Photo Blog by Rajan Parrikar - November 1, 2013 - 12:36 am

    […] my past entries here and […]ReplyCancel

  • Diwali 2011 » Photo Blog by Rajan Parrikar - October 25, 2011 - 1:28 am

    […] of Lord Krishna‘s beheading of the demon-king Narkasur as our motif for the occasion. See this blog entry from […]ReplyCancel

  • Fati Gawas - October 21, 2011 - 5:11 am


  • Arvind Pradhan - November 4, 2009 - 10:15 am

    The ‘quaint’ practice of burning old Nark comes from an even older Goan tradition of having fun every chance they get and even some they do not get.

    Goans are the most fun-loving people in India no doubt due to generous sprinkling of the Portugese DNA they have in their gene-pool.

    Oh to be born in Goa! Perhaps in my next life.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - October 16, 2009 - 8:06 pm

    If I believe Wikipedia, Narakasura is an Assamese tradition.

    How it also left its trace in Goa would be an interesting historical question.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - October 16, 2009 - 6:36 pm

    Happy Diwali!ReplyCancel