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.