“Jai Hari Vitthal” chant a hundred mouths in unison. The oil smeared participants and the audience are ready and so is the ground; slushy from incessant rains. Perfect for a hearty roll in the muck. You read that right ! This is exactly how the people of Goa celebrate Lord Krishna and his childhood games played during the monsoon
On Ekadashi (11th day) of the hindu month of Aashad, villagers flock to the ground of Devki Krishna temple in the village of Marcel in Ponda taluka. This is the only temple in the country dedicated to Devki, mother of Krishna. After a sampak (continuous prayers / Jagrata) of 2 days, the celebration commences by invoking the local deity, Dad Sakhal whose shrine is opposite the scene of action, the Devki Krishna Temple. The participants, mostly men, in their shorts slather their bodies with oil to prevent infection or allergy from the slush.
After oiling their bodies, all the participants enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple and dance in a circle while chanting “Jai Hari Vitthal” to the tune of cymbals. The pace quickens and the chanting gets louder till it reaches a crescendo. Then they symbolically smear the oil from the lamp, burning in front of the idol of Devki holding the baby Krishna, on their bodies. A signal for the games to begin
Everybody troops out of the temple and Chikal Kalo begins by throwing each other into the mud. Chikal Kalo literally translates to play in the mud
Why should the kids remain behind. In fact, they have the maximum fun
Girls join in the fun too along with the boys
Traditional games such as running catching, blind man’s bluff, frog and the mountain, passing the parcel etc are played; all in a slushy muddy amphitheater
What.. stop .. for food … naaaaa we are not going home … today we eat sweets and savouries lovingly made for us by the villagers. The participants of Chikal Kalo have the honour of first tasting the sweetmeats made for the day before the others in the village.
And then again roll in mud ! Today we are Balakrishnas
Whether young or old, rich or poor, today everybody is equal and we just want to have fun with our friends like Krishna had with his friends during monsoon. The sense of camaraderie and joi de vivre is infectious
After an entire day of revelry, Chikal Kalo ends with the symbolic breaking of the dahi handi (pot of butter) by the participants.
Chikal Kalo is a unique festival celebrated only in Goa and a must see and experience if you are around this side during the famed monsoon of the land (check the hindu calendar for Ekadashi dates or just google). The mud festival begins in the morning by 10 am and finishes around 5 pm in the evening. If you are planning to shoot, do not forget to get protection for your camera lenses and if you wish to participate then just jump in the muddy slush and roll ! Goa has much more to it than beautiful palm fringed beaches and stunning sunsets.
Text – Zehra Chhhapiwala
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The pictures have been clicked by a young street photographer Rohanyuri Fernandes.
He can be contacted email@example.com