Goa is a treasure trunk of hidden gems. No matter how often you visit, there will always be something new to explore. Although it's come to be known for stunning beaches and the Susegaad way of life, there is a rich world of traditions and customs that deserve the same kind of attention. One such tradition is the almost-extinct art of weaving mats, also known as Lavo Mandri&ndashthe wild grass used to weave is called Lavo, and a floor mat is called Mandri in the local language.
This art is indigenous to Avedem, a small Goan village located 42 km from Panaji. The women of the village are primarily involved in keeping this tradition alive. Creating this traditional mat is an extensive and time-consuming process spanning months. Since the wild grass grows in marshy areas during the rainy season, the women don't begin collecting it until the monsoon showers commence. After that, the carefully managed grass is kept to dry under the summer sun till it turns brown. This is followed by soaking it in lukewarm water a night before the central act of weaving begins&ndashthis is done to ensure that the grass is soft and malleable.
A woven Lavo Mandri kept outside to dry
Along with Lavo, jute threads are also used&ndashmultiple jute strings are braided together to form a single or double thread. Watching the weavers make the mat is like watching a ballet performance&ndashthey effortlessly work the magic of their hands as they intertwine the wild grass with jute strings. Once the mat is complete, it is kept outside in the sun till it's ready to be sold or used. While most prefer to sell these mats in the market to earn a living, some also find their way to the weavers' and their neighbour's homes.
A Lost Heritage
However, the surge of imported products sold at cheaper rates in the market has caused these traditional mats to go out of demand. Even though most people have taken to plastic mats, these all-natural mats are a better alternative by a considerable measure. Once found in every household in the village, they have become obsolete and difficult to get your hands on.