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Exclusive from daijiworld's special correspondent Aares in Vazen, Goa
Pic Rajtilak Naik, Panaji

Vazen, Goa, Aug 24: Tucked away amidst coconut cultivation is a huge house at Vazen, on the periphery of Shiroda. At the first glance, one can read "Vazekar-Raikar" prominently written on this temple-like structure.

Vazekar-Raikar family has 180-year-old history, which can be recollected. And when Chovoth (Ganesh Chaturthi) is around all the 525 families belonging to the same root come together. The family tree, which is strongly rooted at Vazen on the border of Shiroda mini-town, has spread its branches wide.

From 500-odd kilometres away in Mumbai to thousands of miles away in St Fransisco, USA or Karachi in Pakistan, the family members are spread all over. But when Chovoth comes knocking the door, all pack their bags from their respective domiciles to usher in the five-day festivity here at Vazen.

"Perhaps it's the biggest family reunion held annually. Five hundred twentyfive families spread across the globe come together for Chovoth. The number of family members is ever increasing," says Somnath Raikar, a journalist by profession, belonging to one amongst the 525 families.

The size of the gathering put together makes it, this family's Ganesh, bigger than any of the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav around. But the family has not hyped on their total strength and even kept elephant-headed God's idol as small as any normal-size family.

"There is no hype about anything. It's a blessing of our forefathers that has kept the entire flock together," feels Somnath Raikar.

As the size of family is increasing, Vazekar-Raikars has constructed a special hall to serve food to the members. "All sit in a row to eat.. Space was not adequate so we had to construct a 'Bhojan Mandap," explains an elderly Raikar family member.

Adds Somnath: "This year, we have taken up plans to expand the mandap further. Space demand is growing". Says a lady family member: "We need around 3,000 nevryo (sweets) a day. Requirement is more on the first and last day."

Annually, the family celebrates the Chovoth for five days. It's a big celebration on the last day when the idol is taken for immersion. The procession taken out during the immersion can beat any public Ganeshotsav mandal in numbers.

"We know it's unique… We are proud of it.. We are sure, with the blessings of our forefathers, this Vazekar-Raikar family chain would continue," Somnath said.


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