On Chaturthi, Chef Avinash Martins Explores Goa's Matoli Bazaar
Image Credit: Chef Avinash Martins/Instagram

Chef Avinash Martins – a Goa native and proud of it – has always championed local culture and food. Whether that’s through the menu at his restaurant Cavatina By Avinash Martins or sharing insights into lesser-known experiences on his social media. As Ganesh Chaturthi kicks off, he’s spent the morning exploring the local bazaar in Cuncolim and the wealth of produce available there. 

Matoli markets are an integral part of Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa and showcase a wealth of Goan flora and fauna, usually foraged from nearby areas. This practice dates back many years to when indigenous communities foraged for food and medicinal plants and the Matoli has stemmed from this ecological practice. 

It began as a tribute to Ganesh, the favourite son of Parvati, Goddess of Mother Earth, and the Matoli is symbolic of the harmony between nature and mankind. One of the earliest written mentions of the Matoli tradition can be found in the 1886 book ‘A India Portugueza’ by Lopes Mendes where he describes ‘the image of Lord Ganesh placed in an oratorio, decorated with precious jewels and surrounded by lights, flowers and fruit.’

Image Credits: Chef Avinash Martins/Instagram

For the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, a wooden frame is built and a canopy is laden with wild, seasonal produce under which the idol of Lord Ganesh sits. Traditionally families would gather things from around their local area to decorate the Matoli, but now people visit local markets to buy the items needed. 

The Matoli markets also provide a platform for farmers and women from rural areas to come and showcase their goods and boost the rural economy. There are many such Matoli bazaars across the state and more are being added every year to help perpetuate this practice, and this year Margao’s Matoli bazaar celebrates its 10th successful year. 

Goa has many unique customs that set their Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations apart from the rest of the country and the Matoli is one of the most beloved as it’s an opportunity to celebrate its wealth of local produce and the rural farmers who are perpetuating their traditions.