Keri (Karnataka): In Sitawada of Ramnagar village in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, on the Goa-Belgaum highway, Hindus worship the broken idol of Jain Tirthankar Parshvanath as the folk deity Betal.
Recently, a new temple was constructed with the name of folk deity Betal. People in Ramnagar’s Sitawada and Aadali areas culturally and religiously worship the artistically well carved idol of Parshvanath as Betal.
Chandrakant Shinde, who has photo-documented hundreds of old idols scattered in forested areas and ruined temples in Goa, told TOI, “This is not the idol of folk deity Betal that is venerated in Goa and Konkan as the protector of the village from evil spirits. The idol is of the 23rd Tirthankar of Jainism. Near the newly constructed temple of Betal, there also lies a ruin of Jain temple most probably belonging to Goa Kadamba rulers.”
He further added, “Parshvanath is believed to be predecessor of Vardhaman Mahaveer and is recognised by a cobra headdress. This is an erect stone sculpture presently worshipped as Betal. The ruined Jain temple has idol of local folk deity Kalmeshwar.”
Janoba Pisoskar, 57, from Sitawada said, “Through generations we worship this idol as Betal and in the ruined temple we have our deity Kalmeshwar. In the past the ruined temple and all these idols were lying in the densely forested sacred groves.”
Ramkrishna Bhosle from Sitawada said, “Our history and heritage is closely related to this idol lying inside the newly constructed temple of Betal. We have decided to replace this idol by new one since it is broken.”
“This Parshvanath idol and ruined Jain temple has lot of archaeological and cultural significance and is needed to be protected,” said Mashe Gawas from Ibrampur, Pernem who has visited this temple recently.
The archaeological survey of India’s Dharwad circle has listed 299 monuments from its vicinity but there is no mention of Parshvanath temple and sculpture from Sitawada as no much information about the temple and sculpture is available and is worshipped by the local Hindus as Betal.
Parshvanth is closely associated with compassion. Nag or cobra shown in the sculpture has usually three, seven or eleven heads. – Article Courtesy: Rajendra P kerkar, Times of India