By Nina M
Not one to take a break, Goa’s well-known festakar, Marius Fernandes, is busy introducing his iconic Goan fests back home in the UK. The expat brought together the diverse cultures of the three former Portuguese territories – Goa, Daman and Diu – creating new opportunities for cultural unity at the Goa, Daman and Diu Fest in Leicester City, UK.
The fest demonstrated a shared heritage of the use of millet in the local diet, and discussions highlighted the Indian millet.
“Before I left Goa, Goa College of Agriculture, Ela, Old Goa, generously gifted me millet seeds to take back (to the UK). I used the opportunity to talk about it at the fest and explore opportunities to send these millets to Uganda with the assistance of Dhirubhai Shah,” he shared via a phone call.
Marius shared insights into Goa, Daman and Diu culture, highlighting the significance of the traditional Goan percussion instrument, the ghumot. Additionally, he established connections between Leicester Haemophilia and the Panjim chapter of Goa Haemophilia, fostering collaborations in the medical field.
The cafe at Leicester's Belgrave Gate was the hub of the festivities. The interiors were decorated with vibrant cloth banners, commonly seen at the 75 Goan festivals. The tables were adorned with red and white checked Kunbi tablecloths, and there were various traditional objects on display such as the ghumot.
The lively atmosphere was enhanced by the addition of Konkani music. The event drew 40 attendees across the three communities and was broadcast live on social media.
Like all of Marius’ fests, there were workshops to spread key dying skills to the next generation.
Maria Fernandes and John Fernandes, originally from Curtorim, organised a vibrant flower-making workshop, spreading joy and creativity among the guests.
The success of the first fest has spurred a revolution in Leicester, resulting in the next one.
EUROPE'S FIRST-EVER MILLETS FEST
Last week, Goa, Daman and Diu experienced an outstanding reception during their first event. The event generated a lot of interest, and as a result, the Gujarati and Punjabi communities have also come on board for the upcoming Millets Fest to be held in Leicester, UK, on August 9, 2023.
Attendees of the Millets Fest can expect an immersive experience, embracing the multicultural essence of Leicester. The festival will showcase the diverse cultural expressions of Goa, Gujarat and Punjab, featuring tantalizing dishes prepared with millet and a plethora of mouth-watering flavours.
One of the highlights will be the exclusive workshop led by the curator, Marius Fernandes, where participants will learn the art of making a cherished and much loved Goan dish known as Tizann.
The fest also promises to tantalize taste buds with the creation of delectable chapatis made from jowar by Harpeet Sangha (originally from Punjab), while Dhiru Shah (with roots in Gujarat), will be making chapatis from bajra millets.
The Millets Fest will delight the senses through cuisine, and embrace the soul with a harmonious fusion of music in Konkani, Gujarati and Punjabi languages. Attendees can look forward to an enchanting musical experience that celebrates the cultural diversity of these vibrant communities, and partake in millet workshops and read about the health benefits of millets.
“This festival is a testament to our social responsibility to promote millets as a superfood, and an essential element of our future food landscape. By showcasing the diverse cultures of Goa, Gujarat and Punjab, we aim to foster understanding, appreciation, and unity within our multicultural city of Leicester,” said festakar Marius Fernandes, the curator of the Millets Fest.
Coordinating the event, Steve White MBE, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “We are thrilled to bring the Millets Fest to Leicester, an occasion that epitomizes the essence of cultural harmony and sustainable living. This celebration of millets and their culinary prowess is a step towards a healthier and more environmentally conscious future.”
The Millets Fest promises to be an enriching and memorable experience for all participants as we savour the flavours, melodies and cultures that unite us in this multicultural city, he added.