Every year, as the month of December dawns, preparation of traditional Christmas sweets would begin well in advance in every Goan household. But, over the years, the trend has drastically changed and traditional Christmas sweets have been replaced by ‘readymade’ ones which are easily available in sweet marts or local markets.
Dumiana Rodrigues, from Agassaim, shares her rich experience of the preparation of traditional Christmas sweets.
“Womenfolk in our ward would eagerly wait for the month of December,” she recalls, “and, all the necessities required to prepare sweets like nevreo, dodol, kormolam would be listed and purchased. And, a fortnight prior to Christmas, we would all get together at one residence and prepare the sweets with much love and enthusiasm.”
“Apart from the excitement during the preparation of those traditional sweets, popularly known as kuswar, the unity and sharing of ideas would go a long way in strengthening the bond among all of us,” Rodrigues believes.
“And, once the sweets were ready, they would be distributed equally among those who had gathered to help prepare the sweets,” she stated. “And, the extra stuff would be shared later among the immediate neighbours and relatives.”
“Today, the same Christmas kuswar is easily available in the market,” informs Rodrigues. “And consequently, nobody wishes to take the trouble of preparing them at home. The spirit and enthusiasm which once prevailed, is lost today and may never return again to our homes,” she grieves.
BACK IN THE DAY
Maria Gracias from Goa Velha prepares Christmas sweets annually in her house with the help of her two grown-up daughters.
“My daughters are very co-operative and like to lend a helping hand in all the preparations. They still prefer to prepare and eat those home-made sweets like nevreo, kulkul and dodol rather than those available in the market,” she discloses. “The taste that you can enjoy in home-made sweets is totally different from the readymade sweets. And, when there’s so much time and energy consumed in the preparations, it only helps you realize and savour whatever is prepared at home, within the four walls of the kitchen.”
“In the past, the preparation of festive sweets was in big quantities as families were big with cousins and other relatives visiting for the festive season,” Gracias mentions.
“But now, there’s a shrink in the family with many settled abroad, and there’s hardly anyone dropping in for the celebrations. But, since the preparation of sweets is something that has come down to us from our ancestors, with my mother and grandmother taking it up, we would like to continue it as long as there’s a helping hand at home. In the near future, nobody knows what might be the fate of those traditional Christmas sweets,” she reveals
Sybil D’Souza from Succorro, Porvorim, said that she prepared only nevreo at her residence this Christmas. The rest of the sweets were purchased from the market. Nevreo were prepared in order to share them with her Hindu brethren in the neighbourhood.
“In the earlier days, my daughter would be around to assist me in the preparation of Christmas sweets,” D’Souza said. “If there’s no helping hand in the kitchen, it’s very difficult to prepare all the sweets. Preparation of traditional Christmas sweets in Goan Catholic homes has become a distant dream, today, as people have purchasing power and nobody wishes to take any pains to prepare them at home,” she grieved.
“The enthusiasm that once prevailed among womenfolk is no longer there today,” D’Souza laments. “And with the death of enthusiasm and zeal in Goan homes, laziness has empowered everyone, and ‘readymade’ stuff has become an easy option for most people during the festive season.”