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

All the 13 levels of the Chand Baori
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Close-up in B&W<br>5D, 24-105L

Close-up in B&W
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  • 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
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My nephew & niece and their friends<br>5D, 24-105L

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

Narkasur in the village of Khandola, Goa
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Narkasur in Bhatlem, Panjim, Goa<br>5D, 24-105L

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

Narkasur in Santa Ines, Panjim, Goa
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  • 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

The tiny settlement of Usgalimol (also referred to as Pansaimol) near the village of Rivona in Sanguem taluka in south Goa is host to an extraordinary site – a gallery of petroglyphs inscribed on a bed of laterite. The objects set in stone include human and animal forms, symbols, and implements. The area of interest covers approximately 60 x 30 sq. metres and is located cheek by jowl along a flank of the River Kushavati. During the monsoon season, much of it lies submerged under water.

The significance of this locale was realized only in the early 1990s. By then, navvies had begun hacking away at the laterite bed. The timely intervention of the Goa State Dept of Archives & Archaeology averted a major cultural tragedy. Look at the bottom-right in the first photograph below for the damage inflicted.

A serious study of the site awaits inauguration, but preliminary surveys have been done by, among others, the former Director of the Goa State Dept of Archives & Archaeology Dr. P.P. Shirodkar, and researchers at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa.

Prehistoric rock art gallery in Usgalimol, Goa<br>5D, 24-105L

Prehistoric rock art gallery in Usgalimol, Goa
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The labyrinth symbol has been found all over the world. For more on this topic, click here.

Petroglyph of a labyrinth in Usgalimol, Goa<br>5D, 35L

Petroglyph of a labyrinth in Usgalimol, Goa
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Prehistoric rock art in Usgalimol, Goa<br>5D, 35L

Prehistoric rock art in Usgalimol, Goa
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Prehistoric rock art in Usgalimol, Goa<br>5D, 35L

Prehistoric rock art in Usgalimol, Goa
5D, 35L

Prehistoric rock art in Usgalimol, Goa<br>5D, 35L

Prehistoric rock art in Usgalimol, Goa
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Prehistoric rock art in Usgalimol, Goa<br>5D, 24-105L

Prehistoric rock art in Usgalimol, Goa
5D, 24-105L

  • Ruman Banerjee - June 11, 2013 - 9:58 am

    This is world cultural heritage, gradually fading away from the landscape. In other parts of the world, like the rock art sites of Tanum and Alta (see links)precious engravings such as these get preserved; in India they get vandalized and mutilated. Unless and until we take initiative towards preserving our own cultural heritage, nobody will do it from outside. Nobody does it. Historically, outsiders have only been interested for their own benefits barring a few, like the Pathans, Mughals etc. who really got integrated with the mainland contributing diversity and richness. But we forgot the undercurrent of our own cultural values, ethos, norms and imitated drastically different set of systems without understanding the meaning of it. It was not our brainchild. We copied it from elsewhere. Hence we lacked quality and originality, which this system could have imparted, if got implemented with proper understanding and context. Today, everywhere and by every means in India we are paying for those mistakes in this way.

  • Arun - October 12, 2009 - 7:41 pm

    Funny how the meaning of the once universal symbol of the “labyrinth” is now obscure.ReplyCancel

  • Mervyn Lobo - October 12, 2009 - 6:54 pm

    The first picture reminds me of petroglyph’s in Ontario. Ones similiar to this picture have been found near running water. The rocks are covered with turf and when a new chief was elected, he was taken to the secret site, the turf removed and he would understand the message carved in.ReplyCancel

    • asmi - September 8, 2014 - 9:32 pm

      I want more information about this..plz any one can help mi on it..plz suggest mi books or articleReplyCancel