Situated on the river Mandovi, connected to Old Goa, Ribandar and Narve all by ferry lies the small island of Divar. This island is extremely beautiful surrounded largely by paddy fields. Historically famous as a Hindu pilgrimage site.
Though small, with fewer inhabitants, yet the culture is rich and vibrant. Locals in Divar celebrate their festivals with great enthusiasm. The village has particularly three main festivals that they celebrate. Those are Bonderam, Potekar and the Feast of Our Lord the Redeemer.
The Potekar Festival
Talking about the festival of Potekar you might find it superstitious. Beginning before lent, Potekar Festival is celebrated for three days in the village.
The locals put on homemade and hand painted masks and costumes which normally depict animals.
Also, they wear cow bells on their ankles and around their waists; these being heard over a long distance. Visiting different houses, sometimes offered food and drink; done mainly to frighten young children.
Although it is just a pretense and the elders smile away to the men dressed in creepy animal costumes, some believe that it was a way of teaching their kids to have moral values and good behavior.
The festival tradition is related to the customs of village communes or ‘Gaunkars’. If you visit Divar Island during this festival make sure you don’t get scared of the tinkling cow bells and scary animal costumes because they’re just locals trying to keep the traditions alive!
The Potekar Festival at Divar Island runs concurrently with Goa’s Carnival for 3 days up to 5th March.
The men will come wearing scary masks and their clothes of dark tones will hang on their bodies in a funny, ghoulish fashion.
Don’t let that sack scare you, these are no ghouls, though they try to look like one. These are Divarkars, or people of Divar (the natives of the Malar, Piedade, and Naroa villages near Panaji) and they are here to participate in the Potekar Festival.