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What Goa eats during Ganesh Chaturthi

A glimpse of the culinary offerings of this beloved festival

Joanna Lobo

It is Goa’s biggest Hindu festival. Ganesh Chaturthi, locally called chovoth, is a monsoon festival that brings together families scattered around the world. Houses shut through the year open their doors to welcome the elephant-headed god, in the form of clay idols. Chovoth is largely a family festival, but community celebrations are held too.

It is a festival that truly celebrates nature, and the bounty of the land.

“Everything that is cooked, eaten and offered to the gods is local and often, picked up from our own backyards. Goa is known for its abundance of rice and coconut and these find their way into dishes and sweets. The pujas use different leaves and flowers. And finally, the matoli [a wooden canopy above the idol] uses wild herbs, leaves, fruit and vegetables," says Dr Purnima Usgaonkar of Usgaonkar’s Children Hospital in Ponda.

The festival also celebrates the first harvest of the season or navem. “The sprigs of freshly harvested rice are brought from the temple and offered to the god. After the visarjan, these are hung in front of the house for the coming year,” says Tanavi Raicar, a Goan based in the US.

Chovoth is also an important culinary event in the Goan Hindu calendar.