Do you know about the Tripurari Poornima festival? Read here and know more about it. It is celebrated in Goa and this is your reason to visit Goa once again. I celebrated Tripurari Poornima in Vithalapur, Sankhali – Goa in November 2016. It was a special super moon night. At precisely 7.22 p.m. the moon was closest to the Earth. It was the closest supermoon to Earth in almost seven decades. There wouldn’t be another largest, brightest, and closest super moon til 2034. When it is closest to the Earth, it sends 30% more moonlight otoEarth and appears 16% brighter. A super moon refers to a full moon that coincides with its closest point to the Earth. On this day, many Indians were fasting on the occasion of Kartik Poornima. Interestingly, Goa was celebrating its own Tripurari Poornima and I had a chance to peek into the local fervor. In North India, this day is also called Deva-Diwali or Deva-Deepawali – the festival of the lights of the gods.
The festival of Tirupurari Poornima which is celebrated to mark the end of the Diwali festivity is part of a legend. The mythology says that there was a demon known as Tripura and once he had succeeded in overpowering the Gods. When Lord Shiva was approached to end the tyranny, he came to everyone’s rescue and burnt down three fortresses (Puras) of the demon and set the Gods and humans free. The Gods thanked him and celebrated this event by lighting lamps. Among all the festivals dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kartik Purnima or Tripurari Poornima is considered closely auspicious as ‘MahaShivaratri’. Another mythology says, it was Lord Krishna who defeated and killed the Demon Tripur on the day of Kartik Purnima and this day came into being. As long as goodwill keeps winning over evil, faith shall last forever.
For years, the name ‘Goa’ has always meant perennial holidays, lazying on the beaches, surfing, and more. Therefore, traveling to Goa for a different kind of experience added to my excitement. I curiously read about the festival and learned that in Vithalapur in Sankhali in Goa, a very unique and distinctive celebration takes place every year on this day and locals call it Deeparadhana (lamp of fire worship). As the legacy goes, the locals light lamps and set them adrift in the Valvanti river. Over the years, floating devices have changed. The boats and lights have become more modern and artistic but the festive spirit has been going stronger and stronger. Boat-making competitions, a series of cultural programs, dance dramas, the display of fireworks, and the burning of the effigy are some of the things that are done with great enthusiasm to remind everyone of the victory of the Gods over the demon. Had I not experienced it personally, I could have never imagined the local feel, connection, and excitement around this festival.
I reached my hotel at Miramar Beach, Goa by 3 p.m. On the other days, I would have been worried because half of the day was already gone in traveling from Delhi to Goa but that day I wasn’t worried. The festivities around Tripurari Poornima were supposed to begin from 7 p.m. onwards. After taking a short nap, we (travel bloggers and journalists) started from our hotel at 5 p.m., explored Kala academy (venue for IFFI), Old Latin Quarters, or the Fontainhas area of Panjim, and then drove down to be at Vithalapur in Sanquelim, Goa near the Pundalik Temple. While we had always seen Goa and its beaches at the night, a visit to a temple in the late evening seemed uncustomary and pretty unique. The drive from Panaji was approximately one hour. To keep us engaged, our local guide, Mr. Shailesh Pai filled us with many stories about the festival and fueled our curiosity. I love the kick which comes from hearing the local tales.
In my hotel room, I had found a program schedule for the evening and every bit of information on it was very useful. For someone like me who had an inkling about the festival, it summarized the event well. After reading it, I knew what to expect from the event. When Mr. Shailesh was briefing us about it, I could relate to it in a better way. I also learned from the booklet that special GTDC coaches had been arranged from Santa Monica Jetty to enable easy transportation of the visitors/guests to the venue. The schedule was as below…
7 p.m. -Procession of Lord Srikrishna
8 p.m. -Sailing of lamps in river Valvanti
9 p.m. -Cultural Programme
10 p.m. -Palanquin Procession of Vithal Rakhumai
11 p.m. -Tripurasur -Vadh
11:45 p.m. -Fireworks
Noon p.m.-Traditional Boat Show
After stopping for dinner at ‘Manashanti’, we reached the venue at 9 p.m. The first thing that we did was we entered the temple. I had expected it to be as crowded as our temples in North India but there was no pushing and pounding of any sort. After muttering our prayers and taking blessings from Pujari Ji, we came out to go around the area. I couldn’t wait to see the big and small boats which were specially prepared to take part in this state-level boat competition. In all these years, this boat-making competition has come to be the highlight of the festival.
As I walked from one boat to another, I was impressed to see the blend of creativity and technology. The air was full of enthusiasm and energy. The owners of the boat were excited to talk about their work and later participate in the boat show. As I interacted with some of the boat owners, I learned that the models were made out of thermocol, paper, coconut shells, palm, and other materials. Different kinds of lamps and lights were used for further decorations. Thus, they looked resplendent under the effect of the super moon. Every boat was surrounded by spectators and one couldn’t have enough of it in one visit. I almost spent an hour walking through each one of them. First, these boats were displayed on the periphery of the temple. Gradually, they were carried towards the river by a procession of men.
When I hooked around all the boats, I found myself in an open arena. It was buzzing with local music. The local folk music and dance had kept the audience glued to their chair. Almost every chair was occupied. No doubt, it seemed like a small-town fair but I must say people were very well mannered. Despite a huge gathering, there was no chaos around the temple. But my guide warned this is just the beginning. The crowd will increase so please mind your legs.
Both the riverside and the river looked quite a spectacle. The lights and decorations had taken over the entire area. Every house was beautifully lit up. I almost felt I was celebrating Diwali all over again. There were rangoli on their doorsteps and hanging lamps in the garden. Everyone was clad in their best and the diyas had fired the whole atmosphere. The excitement around the river was contagious. People had already grabbed their seats to watch the series of events. I came back to the pandal area to grab something to eat. What better than having an option to buy some misal pao and eat it too? After the quick bite, I rushed back to grab our seats.
While the locals were anxiously waiting for the results, we enjoyed watching the ‘Palanquin Procession of Vithal Rakhumai’. Later the effigy of the demon was burnt. Here, this festival could be related to Dusshera where the model of Ravana is burnt. Along with this, the sky was filled with fireworks. Soon after this, the boats began to move around in their real grandeur. I also learned from one of the locals that diyas and earthen lamps had the privilege of going in the water before the boats. At one point in time, I almost felt as if I was celebrating both Dusshera and Diwali together. The whole atmosphere was joyful and rollicking. The boats shone on the water, and the idea of having a boat competition is a unique way of celebrating our mythology.
We left the venue at 12:15 a.m. Back in my hotel, I felt delighted to have seen this unique side of Goa. Next year, you must plan to go to Goa during this time.
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