07 Mar 2019  |   03:24am IST


The Goa Carnaval 2019 may have enchanted the audience with floats, colours, sparkles, glitters, music, dance and fun, yet there is nothing better than the fun of peculiar festivals in particular villages like the Divar Island in Goa, one of them is the spine-tickling festival of ghosts and scary masks, the Potekar festival. Café checks out and comes back scarred…. Just kidding

Team Café

Divar Island of Goa is known the Fest of Our

Lord Redeemer and the famous festival Bonderam celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August during the monsoon, which is also similar to the celebration of carnival. However, besides that, Potekar takes an innovative turn every year in Divar Island simultaneously taking place during the main carnival days of Goa.

We all have heard of the western Halloween celebration during the autumn fall, it is obvious that people go nuts choosing the right costumes, attending the best parties, baking the perfect ginger men cookies, and children at the door asking for sweets. Well, vastly similar is the celebration of Potekar in the beautiful Divar Island of Goa. Divarkars, people of Divar, participate in the Potekar festival wearing homemade masks, costumes, cowbells, carry a sack and try to scare children in a light-hearted fashion. They also demand or receive snacks and drinks from the locals.

The Potekar festival began during the Pre-Portuguese era, and is always celebrated three days before the beginning of the fasting season of Catholics, lent. The fascinating fact is that it occurs during the exact same time of the carnival in Goa, and though many long to watch the colorful carnival, many Goans, especially in the island of Divar (and Chorao) love to be part of Potekar with different masks and costumes walking down the streets frightening children.

William Anes (King Momo of Goa Carnaval 2019) whose nativity lies in the serene Divar Island contemplates the celebration of Potekar and explains, “The main difference between the carnival and Potekar festival is that it is a village festival. What is more fun than being with family and friends, cooking and merry-making together as a cozy village? Carnival has its own significance, and Potekar brings together the entire village participating.”

The people dress up in themed costumes and horror masks roaming around the village with people offering them sweet dish, godxem beer and sometimes lunch. He laughs and cautions that the disguised men are not to be recognized by the crowd during the festival.

Potekar means shabby and fits the title of the festival perfectly after the fancy dress of men in costumes and masks. The festival has a long thread of beliefs behind it. Some believe that the act of frightening children with scary masks at Potekar was to teach children morals and values. It also known that long ago, some people used to sweep the compounds and demand a reward while other beliefs suggest that people roamed around in falsetto voices to hide their identity while being mocked by youth.

Advocate Savio Monteiro from the Island of Divar remembers his childhood days during Potekar. “I remember it as kid. It is a local festival and is commenced right after the main carnival. This year the celebration was quite vibrant with families dressing up in colorful attire and walking around the village greeting people”, says Savio. He also praises the participation of more girls this year in Potekar, unlike earlier when more men used to take part.

Earlier the entire festival was known as a creepy scary festival, but as time passed people got used to the celebration of Potekar and now instead of children being frightened you will normally see them smiling. The festival also encourages youth to be a part of the festivity making the atmosphere in Divar lively and fun filled.