One of the most famous zatras of Goa is celebrated at the temple of Shantadurga Kuncolienkarin at Fatorpa in Quepem taluka. 'Kuncolienkarin' means 'from Cuncolim'. During the festival, people from all over Goa, belonging to different religions, communities and castes come to worship the deity. The zatra is held for five days during December or January, during paushya shuddha panchami upto dashmi of the Hindu calendar. The highlight of this event is the chariot procession on four days. The first day is called Hathi Ambari, which includes an elephant chariot. The second day is the procession of the flower chariot, popularly known as Fulancho Rath. The procession of the Vijayrath, a chariot of horses, is held on the third day. The Maharath procession, which has the main chariot is held on the last day, and is thronged by crowds of devotees, marking the finale of the zatra rituals.
The temple at Fatorpa is built in honor of the deity Parvati, also known as Shantadurga in Goa. Shantadurga is a combination of two words: Kumk (Kumkum or Sindur) and aali (meaning saffron colour). In the past, Fatorpa was known as Kumkummahali, and is called punyabhumi by the sons of the soil. 'Shantadurga' means 'peaceful Durga'.
The temple of Shantadurga has a very interesting history. The beautiful temple of Kunkolienkarin was originally built in Cuncolim, where the local market stands today. During the 1570s, when the Portuguese ruled the area, the original temple in Cuncolim was destroyed, but the image of Shantadurga was taken away to Fatorpa, which was outside Portuguese territory in those days and remained so for almost two centuries. A new temple was built in the village of Fatorpa, where the deity remains till today.
During the 18th century, Fatorpa was absorbed into Goa as part of the Quepem Taluka. It would be pertinent to mention here that the first revolt against the Portuguese rule took place in Cuncolim, where the Jesuit missionaries, who were involved in evangelization, were attacked and killed by the locals. In retaliation, the Portuguese destroyed the temple and imposed many decisions against non-converts. The mahajans of the temple were the twelve Kshatriya clans of Cuncolim village.
The devasthan of the temple has 12 vangods, comprising 12 different communities. It is interesting to note that these 12 vangods of the devasthan are required for the commencement of any socio-religious rituals of the village and temple. All religious and social functions are done on the orders of these 12 people.
It is believed that the deity, the Kulswamini of the 12 vangods has two forms. In her calm form, she is motherly and helpful, while her other form, which is fierce is called the Devi Durga, destroyer of all evil.
Idols of Navgrahas, Kalbhairav, Tandavnritya, Kaliamardan, Hirenyakashphu and Ugradevta are housed in the temple.
Many myths and legends are associated with Shantadurga. When the Shantadurga temple was constructed, the gaunkars had difficulty installing the deity because it was too heavy and the priests could not carry it inside.
They gathered and prayed for a solution. The goddess appeared in their dreams and told them to prepare the way; and that she would go herself. So, they decorated the floor with flowers. The following morning, the statue was found inside the temples and there were footprints on the petals.
By Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues
GT Weekender January 21, 2007
Posted By : Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues, Goa on 21/01/2007