Goa celebrates a vibrant blend of culture and agriculture in July

When in Goa, there’s no shortage of reasons to celebrate, and so is the case this month
ORA PRO NOBIS: 'Touxeachem Fest' is one of the celebrations that takes place in Goa at this time of year.
ORA PRO NOBIS: 'Touxeachem Fest' is one of the celebrations that takes place in Goa at this time of year.Photo: Gomantak Times

Life is a celebration. It was always so in Goa, even under foreign domination. More often than not, the territory we know today as ‘Goa’ was ruled from outside its geographic boundaries – from Sawantwadi, Sonde, Banavasi, Bijapur, Lisbon and New Delhi.

However, nothing prevented the people of Goa from celebrating. We always had something to be happy about, to celebrate. It was Sao Joao on June 24 and Sangodd of St Peter & St Paul on June 26.

ORA PRO NOBIS: 'Touxeachem Fest' is one of the celebrations that takes place in Goa at this time of year.
Celebrating the feast of St Peter in Goa with the unique 'sangodd'

On July 14, we celebrate the 70th birthday of Premanand Lotlikar. On July 26, we celebrate Kargil Vijay Din and the feast of St Anne & St Joaquim (Grandparents Day for some of us who have lived ‘to see our children’s children’) and Touxeachem Fest for those couples who are not yet blessed with a child of their own.

The Touxeachem Fest or ‘Cucumber Festival’ is a wonderful celebration of Mother Nature. One must have cucumbers to offer to the deity of the day, Santan Saibinn. Call it syncretism or call it inculturation or adoption of native practices in a religion of foreign origin.

'RICE' TO THE OCCASION: Dr Manohara (left) and Fr George Quadros (right) have done much to resurrect Goa's rice scene.
'RICE' TO THE OCCASION: Dr Manohara (left) and Fr George Quadros (right) have done much to resurrect Goa's rice scene.Photo: Miguel Braganza

Call it what you want, but the fact remains that childless couples, subscribing to any religion or no religion, come to the Church of St Anne at Talaulim – located between Goa Velha and Velha Goa (Old Goa) – offer a cucumber and pray fervently that both the partners may become fertile and bring forth a child.

When they have a child, the couple comes again with the child in thanksgiving. It is a very earthy and agricultural practice that ensures that there is cucumber cultivation in the adjoining areas, and the farmers earn some money in the lean season.

ORA PRO NOBIS: 'Touxeachem Fest' is one of the celebrations that takes place in Goa at this time of year.
The green revolution in Goa

Thanks to expats who have come back to their roots in Goa, mix-pats (like Rene Baretto and Marius Fernandes who are in Goa and abroad each year), resident Goan farmer priests (like Fr Ave Maria Alphonso, Fr George Quadros, Fr (Dr) Bolmax Pereira), pragmatic agriculture scientists (like Dr KK Manohara, Dr Solomon Rajkumar, Dr Gopal Mahajan, Dr Mathala Gupta and their team at ICAR-CCARI), the FPOs and service providers (like Goencho Xetkar) among others, we have begun to re-learn how to celebrate Goan agriculture.

ORA PRO NOBIS: 'Touxeachem Fest' is one of the celebrations that takes place in Goa at this time of year.
Marvel at the Baroque style of these churches of Goa

There are young farmers like Rajat Rudresh Prabhu, Priyanka and Vandit Naik, Anita Mathew, Krishna Sinari Gaonkar; young professionals like Liza Pinheiro, Shweta Gaonkar, Estella Pires, and others who are making a difference.

(The author is the former Chairman of the GCCI Agriculture Committee, CEO of Planter's Choice Pvt Ltd, Additional Director of OFAI and Garden Superintendent of Goa University, and has edited 18 books for Goa & Konkan)

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