We begin the New Year by invoking Ganesha.
The Ganapati temple in the tiny Goan village of Khandola (also spelled Candola) is important to Goans and to Goan history. The original temple was located on the island of Divar at the site of what is today the cemetery adjoining the Church of Our Lady of Piedade. After it was destroyed by the Portuguese around 1540, the idol was squirreled away to Khandepar in Ponda taluka and later to Narve in Bicholim taluka. It was to endure still more turmoil in the years following before finding a stable home in Khandola sometime around 1750.
In 1969 the ancient idol was retired and a new one installed for active worship. But the plan to inter the old image through the process of visarjan was foiled by the Lord Himself. During the prasad ritual, He demanded a permanent spot in the garbagriha (sanctum sanctorum) to the left of and 1 foot higher than His new doppelgänger.
Now a few words about the photograph. For entry into the inner sacred space, the Khandola temple rules call for a ritual bath and appropriate attire. After some back-and-forth a compromise was struck: I agreed to wear the dhoti but the purificatory cold shower from the temple well at 6 in the morning was waived. And so – balancing my camera and tripod while holding on to a slippery dhoti, I came to photograph the ancient Ganapati of Khandola.
This Ganesha sculpture is suggestive of the Hoysala style and is thought to date back to the 13th century CE.