Every feast in Goa is skirted by a fair, and before the pandemic, fairs used to traverse the length and breadth of Goa through the year, except for June and July. Stalls selling traditional Goan sweets are the main part of any fair with kaddio boddio getting GI status and being sold the most.
“Kaddio boddio is only made in Goa for Goans and by Goans; and when tasted by others, loved by all,” proudly says Amol Diwadkar, a sweet maker and seller from Divar.
These sweet stalls have their origins in the villages of Divar and Chorao, and it is the families from these two villages that travel around Goa setting up stalls selling homemade Goan sweets, from kaddio boddio (also known as khajem in Konkani) to ladoos, halwa, jalebi, rewddio and chips made from tapioca, etc.
Feast traditions in villages are pretty simple – Mass; visit stalls and buy sweets, relish sausage bread, buy toys and play games before returning home.
“We sweet makers are from the villages of Divar and Chorao. I don’t know how our ancestors got into sweet making, but this is a tradition that started years back. All I have learnt is how to make these sweets and to follow the village feast charts that have been passed down through the years,” says Amol Diwadkar, as he assists his workers in attending to people taking home packets of various sweets on display in his stall.
“There was a time when everyone in the family was involved, right from the making process, the setting up of the stall to the selling. Things are changing now with members of my family opting for other professions and that is why I have boys from outside Goa working for me now,” admits Amol, who is a witness to the changing attitudes in feast attendees.
“We do not see many people coming to feasts now because people in most villages have gone abroad, and therefore we have the old and a few others that are here that come to attend feasts. There are some villages though where people who are abroad specifically come down to celebrate their feasts, and one such village is Siridao,” observed Amol, as he moved ahead to attend to a surge in the crowd at his stall.
“The main fairs today are at Pilar and Old Goa, and in the cities of Panaji, Margao and Mapusa. I normally put up my stall in these places during the novenas as the crowd is big on all days. We normally set up shop in villages on the day of the vespers and leave by the evening of the feast day. Business is down,” admitted Ankit Chawdikar from Chorao.
“I provide accommodation to the boys who work for me from outside Goa. They help in the preparation of sweets, putting up of the stall and even do sales. They stay with me for ten months and go home for holidays for two months,” discloses Sachin, who is also from Chorao. “They have become family now because of the trustworthiness shown by them,” added Sachin.
“All sweet stalls are Goan. This tradition is purely Goan, and if you see outsiders running any stalls, it is because the Goan family, unable to run their own, has leased it out to outsiders who then sell sweets in their place. They cannot make our type of sweets. Making these sweets is part of our heritage,” boasted Amol.
“When you grow up eating such sweets every year of your life there is bound to be a link that is formed between the sweet and your taste buds. Nothing can break that link, and that is why though the number of people that come to fairs has decreased, the sale has not been much affected because people buy for others, especially the old and those who cannot come,” surmises Ankit.