Ganesh Chaturthi is an Indian festival celebrated in honor of Ganpati, the elephant-headed Hindu god. One of the most important Indian festivals, the celebration all over the country is joyous and colourful. Ganesha is offered prayers of prosperity and success, and it is believed that all obstacles are taken away by him at the end of the celebration. However, the grandest festivities are in Maharashtra and Goa, where preparations start months in advance.
We discovered a scenic village in Goa, while backpacking from Agonda Beach to Betalbatim, which specializes in creating Ganpati’s sculptures. Saleri is a small village in South Goa, located near the Cabo De Rama Fort. The nearest beach to this village is Cola Beach, a secluded and scenic place. One of the main occupations of the people living in the village is hand crafting idols of Ganesha for the festival.
The idols are made to order and sold all over Goa. The statues are meticulously crafted by hand and the size ranges from 6 inches to over 4 feet. After the day of the festival, they are immersed in a body of water, completing the process of offering prayers to the deity.
The process of making the sculptures is parallel and each statue is worked upon simultaneously, much like a production line. Each craftsperson makes around two to three idols a day and in totality, around 200 are made. The smaller statues are sold for Rs 500-700 and the bigger ones are sold for Rs 1000-1300.
The festival is highly anticipated and the planning begins much before the actual day. The celebration is grand both publically and in homes, where people install the clay statues to worship Ganesha. The pandals, or makeshift tents where the much larger idols are installed also begin to take shape weeks in advance.
On surface it seems grand, but the meticulous planning that the festival requires is how these artisans make their entire living. This captivating village was discovered by chance as while exploring the lesser known places in Goa.
Some of the other lesser known beaches of Goa that are a must visit are Palolem, Cavelossim and Colva Beach. The village of Saleri perfectly mirrors how vast and interesting the Indian culture is. Hopefully this will reawaken our wanderlust, and it will inspire us to travel to the more niche places.
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