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Lavo Mandri - Goa : A lost art

Updated: Mar 31

"Within Goa lies a wealth of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Even frequent visitors will always find something new to captivate them. While it may be renowned for its breathtaking beaches and laid-back lifestyle, there exists a world of cultural practices and rituals deserving of equal admiration. Among these traditions is the fading art of crafting mats, known as Lavo Mandri in the local dialect - Lavo refers to the wild grass used in weaving, while Mandri is the term for the final product."

Some people will find it a little hard to believe that mandri or mat making was a thriving art in Goa a few decades ago. However, times have changed, some Goan traditions, like mandri have faded away. Mandri or mat making is an old Goan folk art. “Mandri is made of Nayo or lavo grass. Nayo grows in marshy and cold areas during the rainy season. The beautiful art of mat-weaving in Avedem, a charming Goan village situated 42 km from Panaji, has been lovingly preserved by the women of the community. It is a meticulous and time-consuming craft that takes many months to complete. As the wild grass required for the mats only grows in the wet marshlands during the monsoon season, these resourceful women wait for the rain to begin before they start gathering it. Once collected, the grass is carefully laid out under the scorching summer sun until it takes on a rich brown hue. Before the crucial step of weaving begins, the grass is soaked overnight in lukewarm water to ensure its pliability and ease of handling.

In addition to Lavo, jute threads are also frequently utilized – multiple strands are intricately woven together to create a single or double thread. The mesmerizing process of crafting these mats resembles a graceful ballet performance, as the skilled weavers deftly interweave wild grass with the jute strings. Once the mat is finished, it is left outside to bask in the sun until it is ready for sale or use. While many choose to sell these exquisite creations in the market, some are reserved for the weavers' own homes, as well as those of their neighbors.

The increasing availability of cheap imported products in the market has led to a decline in demand for traditional mats. While plastic mats have become the popular choice, it's worth noting that these all-natural mats offer a much better alternative. Once a staple in every village household, these mats have now become obsolete and hard to come by.

Image Source : Mariona Pereira blog

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