Goa is in festive mood. Along with Shigmo festival, there is another interesting festival that is being celebrated on April 11, the Lairai jatra. Also Read - Marathi Language Day 2020: Govt to Table Bill For Making Marathi Compulsory in Schools Today
Lairai festival or jatra, which in Konkani means pilgrimage festival, is one of the most popular festivals of Goa. The festival is celebrated in a small village called Shirgao located in the Bicholim district of Goa, in honor of Devi Lairai. Devotees from across the state come to this small village and visit the temple to pay their respect to the goddess. Numerous poojas and rituals are performed at the temple, which is lit up for the festival. The Shirgao Jatra is famous for the ‘walk on hot coal’. Tourist and people from nearby villages throng to this place to witness the holy walk. Also Read - Indians Onboard Quarantined Cruise-liner Will be Back Soon: Envoy
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Earlier, Lairai jatra was celebrated for five to six days but now it is a single day celebration. The festival starts early morning with devotees performing rituals as an act of worship and penance. Majority of the devotees wear flower garlands and a special type of dhoti. They also make a special stick using twisted twigs. Colored yarn is used to decorate the stick, which is carried by the devotees throughout the day.
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The celebration continues till midnight with worshipers dancing frantically to the beats of drum inside the goddess Lairais temple. Devotees dance in a circle holding the special stick and chanting. The most interesting part of the celebration starts at around midnight when the dance rituals end and an appointed person lights a bonfire near the temple. The worshiper continues dancing around this huge bonfire. During the morning hours, the fire dies out and coal begins to form. The worshipers, holding their stick, run across the hot coal chanting Devi Lairais name. After finishing the run, the garlands are thrown onto a banyan tree.
This unusual jatra ends with the sunrise.
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