Notes on Culture & Antique Art, Ethnic Decor & Vintage Fashion | Wovensouls Art Gallery

The Narakasura Festival, Goa

[A post from 2010 on the occasion of Diwali & Narakasur]

Goa. Narakasur. Pre-Diwali.

A unique folk festival that I noticed for the first time in 2004  then became more and more tuned in every subsequent year.

Krishna killed demon Narakasura on this pre-Diwali night and Hindus in Goa (and some other parts of southern India) re-enact the scene by building straw Narakasuras and then burning them down amidst celebrations.

Here in Goa, people in every neighbourhood build their very own Narakasura for this festival. In the city, a straw demon can be spotted at approximately every 100 meters and in the village at every 500m.

Constructing these two storey tall straw men is not easy – and takes about 10 days of effort. Materials have to be gathered, the design needs to be worked out creatively and finally the actual construction needs to be implemented. People of all ages work on the construction – with the older people providing guidance and experience,  the youth carrying the responsibility and the kids being given the fun and easy tasks. The women of the house provide the flow of festive snacks and the motivation.

Three days before Diwali, I invited myself to the group that was building one in my neighbourhood, and helped in gluing and painting their work of art. We’d begin working after dinner sitting in the compound, amidst newspapers, music and finger foods and continue past midnight.  In the rush to get the demon standing upright on the last night, we hardly slept – since the evil demon that we had just created had to be vanquished at 4am.

A photo-journey through the amazing state of Goa during Narakasura season…

Hay, sticks, paper, metal, clothes, glue and firecrackers go into building these.

Every corner is crowded with groups of young people – some planning and building the Naraksura, others just enjoying the festive spirit.

The final product…creative colors, creative masks an creative situational elements!

Although the roots are religious, everyone participates in this festival, and the group that took me in and allowed me to join into their fun activity was an all-catholic bunch of teenagers.

The final moments – setting the demon on fire…

Pre dawn burning…

The end of one more energising festival that bonds the community closer. The build up for weeks leading to the final spectacular climax…..through teamwork and positive soul fulfilling positive spirits!

What a festival, what a place!!


photos from 2008 (pre-SLR)

7 comments on “The Narakasura Festival, Goa

  1. anthony
    November 20, 2010

    do you speak portuguese in Goa?

  2. wovensouls
    November 20, 2010

    Portugese was taught as a second language in schools until recently – so the people in their 50s and 60s still speak it.

  3. Pingback: Goa Diaries | Wovensouls Journal

  4. Shashwathi Sandeep
    September 12, 2014

    Hi Sir,
    My name is Shashwathi Sandeep and I work with ‘Parent Circle’, a three year old parenting magazine based in Chennai, India.
    We cover all issues related to parenting and for our October issue, we are writing an article on ‘Unique Diwali Traditions’.
    I would be truly grateful if you could grant us the permission to use these pictures. Will be awaiting a positive response from you Sir.

    Thanks and Warm Regards
    Shashwathi Sandeep
    e mail:

  5. Pingback: Narakasur again | The Wovensouls Journal

  6. Pingback: A Diwali Celebration In Goa, A Feast For The Eyes And Peace For The Soul! | Dazling Goa

  7. Ria Basu
    October 14, 2016

    There are various ways to celebrate deepavali festival with your near and dear ones. One can use Diwali puja vidhi available online to perform the rituals.

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