03 Apr 2024  |   04:36am IST

Shidiyo – A fine balancing act

Shidiyo – A fine balancing act

Team Cafe

In the village of Balli Muth, a ritual symbolizing penance called Shidiyo is performed as part of the Shigmo celebrations in the state. In the courtyard of the village deity Shri Shantadurga Ballikarin, a 20-foot pole is erected in the center of the ground and attaching a 30-foot horizontal pole, locally known as laat, to it. The laat is balanced and can hold a man at one end.

Manoj Bharve, the temple priest informs that this year, there will be two Gades from Kholakar and Khupkar. “Besides the two main Gades, who are married men, there will be Lhann Gades too which are usually young boys in the age group of 12-14 years. Since this year the festival is clashing with the exams, I am not sure how many Lhann Gades will be participating. There are many families that return from outside the state and country especially for their sons to earn this right as they participate as Lhann Gades,” says Manoj, as he prepares for the festival. 

“The laat is usually of a wood called Mattu and it is brought in a procession from the village of Kavlem near Zambaulim in Quepem on the previous day. We set it up and do a trial before the actual festival. On the day of Shidiyo, at around 9 am we begin with the ceremony. A Gada is tied face down to the laat. A group of people then hold a rope attached to the other end of the laat to ensure its balance as the laat is rotated five times, alternating between clockwise and counter clockwise rotations. Finally, the Gada is released from the laat. After this, the Gades visit the 13 Devasthans and present their offerings. They then head to a pond for a bath and swallow a mouthful of water and carry the water back to the shore to complete the ritual. For the Lhann Gades, the skin of their abdomen is pricked with a needle and medicine is applied. We celebrate Gulal the next day,” informs Manoj, who has been serving the temple, Shree Shantadurga Ballikarin Saunsthan, Balli, for more than 50 years.

There is a very interesting legend behind the festival. Manoj retells the story, “According to legend, the Velip community had their settlement in the nearby forest of Sundalem where they used to worship Santeri, the mother goddess. People belonging to the Desai community, used to visit this goddess during the Shigmo and participate in the Zatra held there. Since organising the zatra and feeding the people was an expensive affair then, one year the Velip community informed the Desais that the festival is on the following day. As the Desais had already reached the venue with their offerings, they kept it there and returned home. The next day, when they went for the Zatra, they were told that it was already held. This made the Desais very angry and they pleaded to the goddess to leave her abode in Sundalem and come down with them to Balli.”

He further adds, “The goddess agreed to oblige only if a fruit was offered to her for every step. The Desais agreed and took the same coconuts that they had brought for the zatra and broke each cocnut for her steps. However, they were not enough. Since they were passing through a dense forest, they started offering her the seasonal fruits from the trees. 

The goddess decided to rest and didn’t want to proceed so the Desais offered to give her a sacrifice that was called Potchem and Fatchem- the blood of elderly person and a young boy respectively, the ritual which now involves the penance by Gades and Lhann Gades. She agreed and proceeded to the current place of the temple. This tradition of celebrating Shidiyo is strongly followed by the villagers.” 

Since the Desai families offered fruits to the goddess, they earned the title of Phal to their surname. “All the families who have the surname Phal Desais will find their origins in this village,” says Manoj. The festival will be held today at the temple, Shree Shantadurga Ballikarin Saunsthan, Balli.


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