Bonderam remains a treasured tradition for ‘Malarkars’

There's a sense of unity, determination to win and extreme love for this Goan festival
This year, the Malar Bonderam will take place on August 19.
This year, the Malar Bonderam will take place on August 19.Photo: Venita Gomes

As the monsoons sweep over the little state of Goa, its villages are draped in endless shades of green. And against this rural backdrop, the islanders of Divar celebrate their customary harvest festival, Bonderam.

A village affair, which started as a commemoration of the old fights between the gaunkars and later communidades who used coloured flags to demarcate their boundaries, today Bonderam has grown into a celebration of parading flags, floats, fancy dress and other attractions.

This year, the Malar Bonderam will take place on August 19.
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Characteristic of the island, it is one of the most awaited festivals of the monsoon season that draw the attention of many locals and tourists alike who flock to Divar to witness an ambience no less than a carnival.

This year the festival at Malar village, organised by Sao Matias Sports Club, will take place on August 19, 2023, with a great line-up of events scheduled for the entire day.

For Malarkars, there’s much affection for this festival that unites and connects them to a legacy of yesteryear.

The festival features traditional floats, costumes, music and more.
The festival features traditional floats, costumes, music and more.Photo: Venita Gomes


For the onlooker, the festivities unveil the energy of the otherwise serene island. But, for locals, it’s the harmony among their fellow brethren and the relentless efforts of all communities residing in the village that makes the festival a success.

“It’s like coming jointly as one big family. Some prepare food, others set up music, take care of the deco, set up pandals and some make props,” says Remy De Almeida, one of the organisers at the event. 

It's not wrong to say “it takes a village” to make Bonderam an unforgettable experience. The endless list of contributors includes the organising team, the villagers, government officers, the police force and other extended hands.

This year, the Malar Bonderam will take place on August 19.
Flags, floats and fun at Divar's Bonderam


The villagers take time out of their busy schedules to participate in the festival. Ria Menezes, a youth from the Goddar wado, has been doing so for more than a decade. What excites her the most is being able to flaunt her dancing skills.

"Every year, Bonderam comes in with a ton of memories of everyone who joins in to showcase their talent, culture and more. The painstaking effort that goes into making the festival successful somehow becomes a cherished keepsake years thereafter,” she says.

Last year her ward bagged the runners-up position, missing the top spot by just a mark. “It was the most memorable moment for me because it’s the closest we’ve come to winning. The feeling was priceless after all the effort we’d put in,” mentions Ria, hoping to walk away with the title this year.

Villagers have cherished memories associated to this annual event.
Villagers have cherished memories associated to this annual event.


"No matter how many times we perform, we never get bored,” says Astrid Ataide, who's been participating in the festival ever since childhood.

For locals like her, Bonderam starts weeks before with a theme selection, choreography and getting down to every costume detail. A routine that follows every evening before the event is friends from each ward familiarising themselves with the dance steps. And there's no doubt that at times the enjoyment exceeds the choreography memorisation.

“You can feel the excitement as the main day nears. It makes you feel like staying up all night and practising,” the youngster from Belsur wado states.

She fondly remembers the moment when her ward won first place back in 2017. “We were so elated that our efforts and long-hour practice sessions were all worth it,” she says.

This year, the Malar Bonderam will take place on August 19.
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“Last year turned out to be my most memorable moment – the first time I took the lead alongside my partner. Initially, I was so nervous, but the moment I spotted my college friends in the crowd, cheering for me, my confidence was over the roof,” states Elaine Lima, a youth who’s been participating in the festival for the last six years.

As an insider, a fun thing that no one else gets to experience other than a local is the adrenaline rush, especially during the last two days before the big day.  

Elaine believes a festival like Bonderam provides a platform for villagers like her to dance their hearts out. A matter of fact is that the festival welcomes participation across all age groups. While the young seem excited, any spectator can vouch that the oldies usually steal the show with unmatched energy, exhibiting years of experience.

Head to Divar to witness this unique celebration.
Head to Divar to witness this unique celebration. Photo: Venita Gomes


Attendees at the festival get a glimpse of an innately Goan celebration: traditionally-themed floats, vibrant costumes, upbeat Konkani music, customary flags and more.

This year the Malar Bonderam festival will begin at 11 am with a millet workshop, followed by the traditional Bonderanchem jevonn around mid-day. At the Bonderanchi pasoi, which will commence at 2 pm, all partakers will get a chance to walk through the lanes and history of the village and savour sweets prepared by the villagers. 

Spectators can relish food and drinks available at stalls while Konkani kantaram fill the air with familiar melodies. After the annual float parade presented by the four wards, a musical night that features DJ Macattack and the True Blue band will conclude the celebration.

This year, the Malar Bonderam will take place on August 19.
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Witness the love among the people, the passion to keep traditions alive, and collect some unforgettable memories. This harvest celebration on the quaint island of Divar evokes a sense of pride, nostalgia and unity among the entire Goan community.

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