Head to Goa’s backwaters for Maange Thapnee & behold the traditional worship of Crocodiles
Beyond the sun, sand and surf in Goa, there's an array of things you can explore and be a part of. So if you're a part of the clan, that likes to divert their ways from tourist influxes while travelling, then Goa surely has a lot for you to delve in.
Moving over soaking up a tan, sipping cocktails on the beach and attending generic parties, we've chanced upon an activity, rather a traditional event, which takes place in Goa every year. Miles apart from your regular music or food festivals, Goa hosts a unique curtain-raiser for months of agricultural bounty, commencing in January.
Maange Thapnee is performed here in the backwaters of Goa, for a good harvest by the local farmers and fishermen and they don't worship idols for this tradition, per se. For this custom, Goans actually worship the mugger crocodile population thriving here and the roots of this practice has alternative narratives too.
When looking for offbeat activities, nothing beats a boat ride through the Cumbarjua Canal. It is a 15 km crocodile-inhabited canal that connects the Mandovi and the Zuari rivers, which is also home to mugger crocodiles. Although this species is a freshwater one, they have actually adapted to this saltwater habitat in Goa! According to the word of mouth around here, well before Goa's colonisation, crocodiles were used as an important line of defence to shoo away invaders.
The village of Durbhatwadi along the canal, worships these crocodiles as the guardian spirit of their community and they're said to usher prosperity.
How's the Crocodile Worship performed?
These 'devotees' don't actually pull out a whole live crocodile for the worshipping process. They're crafty enough to make a dummy crocodile, from silt collected from the paddy fields. Clamshells and sticks are then fashioned into eyes and teeth of the 'idol' and then adorned with flowers and vermilion.
This is followed by a live 'sacrifice' of an egg or a chick, which concludes the ceremony and then, a feast begins amidst the partakers of the event. The antiquity of this custom is only available in oral interactions around the village and the backwaters.
Although with passing years, the number of 'devotees' of this practice has seen a rise, the count of the crocodile population has gone down. These snappers are in dwindling numbers due to the popularity of their meat and skin amidst the illegal traders! Also, industrial pollution issues have reached the canal and has contributed in the decline.
So if you're in the sunny ports of Goa and in the mood for adventure, take a boat ride here and you might not be able to witness the fest but surely, you'll be enlightened like no other.