One of my many reasons for visiting Goa was to seek out the Loliem Vetal, which proved to be quite difficult as my driver had never heard of it.
Loliem is a small village in south Goa‘s Canacona Taluka. On entering the village look out for an arched gateway on your left as you head downhill on the road. From here there’s a path running through a farmhouse frontage and beyond into the jungle. Before long you’ll reach a small clearing where the Vetal stands.
It’s a very atmospheric setting, with the post monsoon lushness of the surrounding foliage perfectly setting off the statue. I have to confess a feeling of disquiet as I stood before the 2m high figure.
So what is the Loliem Vetal ? My research proved difficult, in part because of the varieties of spelling. This Vetal, or Betal, is known locally as the Nagdo Betal (Nagdo meaning “unclad”). It’s a Goan deity that seems to be specific only to this region. There are other Vetal statues in the region, but mostly housed inside temples. This one stands alone, in solitude, I’m not sure if it’s been removed from somewhere or has always been here.
My thanks must go to Rajan Parrikar who’s blog drew my attention to this place. He’s also posted an article about the Vetals of Goa which helps add some context. This excerpt comes the book Socio Cultural History of Goa by V.R. Mitragotri.
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