When all of India sparkles and glitters with lamps and lanterns, Goa, adds its own flavor to the festival of Diwali with its Narkasur festivities. With Diwali the festival of lights set to be celebrated on Saturday, there is a mad race among youth to put together giant-size effigies of demon Narkasur. The effigies are made all over Goa with each year witnessing different themes and contests. The effigy is then taken in a procession and burnt at dawn to usher in the festival of Diwali.
Goa witnesses a unique event called Narkasur on the eve of Diwali when the Narkasurs (demon effigies) are paraded on the streets of Goa before they are reduced to ash. This marks the commencement of the festival of light and end of evil and darkness. Effigies of the Narkasurs are designed days before the festivities. Many competitions are organized and prizes awarded before the effigies are reduced to ash. The festival is therefore known as Narkasur Chaturdashi. Narkasur parades take place all over the state of Goa; with people from different villages.
Traditionally, the effigy is built on a metal skeleton, which is rolled with stacks of old newspapers and dry grass, so that it can be easily set ablaze. Youths try to make the Narkasura effigies as ferocious as possible as he should be made to look dangerous, the way a demon is. His size too has to be huge, his eyes should pop out and tongue stick out. The more menacing the better it is.
Legend has it that the demon king Narkasur ruled the beautiful land of Gomantak (Goa) and possessed a lot of powers which made him arrogant and he spread terror. His reign came to an end with his killing by Lord Krishna by severing his head using the famous Sudarshan Chakra. As the demon was killed in the wee hours of the morning, the burning of effigies signifies victory of good over evil.
According to a source, Costs of making Narkasur effigy have increased by around 25 per cent this year, revealed a wholesaler from Chodan-Maddel Lala Advoikar, who prepares all types of Narkasuras big, small, frightful and not so menacing besides also selling masks and other things. Many people flock to his exhibition-cum-sale. Gurudas Pinge from Merces sells high-tech small-sized Narkasura effigies with twinkling eyes and frightening face. Costs range between Rs 1,300 to Rs 450.
To add to the fun, various organizations conduct competitions for the best and original renditions of the effigies. In many places youths play role of Krishna and burn the Narkasur effigies. The celebrations have also become a major tourist draw. Narkasur parades are undertaken with pomp and fervour and are a great attraction for those who choose to spend their Diwali holidays in Goa.