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Monday, September 17, 2012

Why We Call Her What We Call Her

Someone recently posed a question, “What does the term “Mhadei” mean?”
I knew the answer but then I thought I would leave it to someone who could explain it better.
Here is what Adm Awati had to say about it, in his own words. Read on…
In late 2008 as the boat was nearing completion, I looked, searched for a suitable name for her. Many names suggested themselves to me. I rejected them all as common or garden, not suitable for  a potential circumnavigator. I was looking for something really evocative. Then in August that year, as the Monsoon raged in Goa and Ratnakar busied himself painting the finished hull in the covered hangar where the boat was under construction, I was invited to Goa by my friend, Professor Pratima Kamat, who heads the department of history at the University of Goa. She had just then completed a book on the Kadamba rule in Gomantak, a thousand years earlier. She took me to theSattari region of Goa at the base of the Ghats in adjoining Karnataka where the Mandovi has her source. The infant stream descends into the Goa plains where the locals worship the river goddess. Here there are numerous temples to the goddess built out of the local black, basalt rock. In those temples there is that icon of the river goddess, also carved out of volcanic basalt, sitting cross legged in a boat which is carved in great detail, showing mast and sails, crew and sukkani with the disha-kak, the land finding birds, caged at the top of the mast ( hence the term crow's nest ), ready to be released on the approach of land. ' Admiral `, says, Pratima to me, ' here is Mhadei, the river goddess,the patron deity of the locals. Interestingly a similar cult of the river goddess exists at the other end of the country, in Odhisha `. I knew at once that my search for a name for our circumnavigator boat was at an end. She would be named MHADEI ! I told Dilip and Ratnakar of my decision and thanked Pratima for guiding me to her, here in Sattari.
Incidentally, the infant Mandovi, too is here called Mhadei. Her festival lasts ten days, annually, during the Navaratri, ends on the tenth day, Dashahara, Dassera in the common language. That is the story behind the name of the Indian circumnavigator boat built by Ratnakar Dandekar at his small, unassuming boat yard on the island of Divadi on the Mandovi river, off Goa Velha”

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