By Casey Monteiro
Standing testament to the highs and lows and the ebb and flow of Goa's history is the 120-year old Almanac de Parede (‘wall calendar’ in Portuguese).
This printed calendar, which was started in 1903, by Joaquim Filipe Roque Correia, a calendarist, is today helmed by his grandchild Eric and his wife, Sheila.
POPULAR DURING PORTUGUESE RULE
Joaquim who had a printing press, Tipografia Progresso, located behind the Holy Spirit Church in Margao, also published several books such as those containing novenas, ladainhas etc.
But, perhaps the most popular thing to be printed at his press was the Almanac de Parede, which was very famous with the Portuguese speaking population during the heydey of the colonial rule in Goa.
After his demise, Joaquim's elder son Domingos took over the reins. “After uncle Domingos, who was my godfather, passed away, my aunt Elsa (Joaquim's daughter) looked into the publishing of the calendar,” recalls Eric, an advocate by profession, who attributes his motivation to continue printing the almanac to be his uncle and aunt, who he says worked with lot of devotion towards its printing.
INSIDE THE ALMANAC
The feast of the saint for the day is listed in the almanac.
The makers of the almanac have to keep themselves in sync with the latest happenings in the church, such as looking out for announcements and declarations of new saints and feasts.
Besides having information on feasts and saints, the almanac lists Hindu religious festivals celebrated in Goa, too, thus reflecting the communal harmony and spirit of the religious celebrations in Goa.
Over the years, the almanac, which is printed on a double A3 broadsheet, has stuck to the original black and white print with the red masthead pattern.
“We have not changed the original design and format,” points out Eric, explaining how they did not want to dilute the essence of the calendar.
But, Eric does talk of how the contents in the calendar have undergone a bit of a shuffle with changing times. He cites the example of how, earlier, the Almanac would have information regarding telegraph codes. But, ever since the telegraph was stopped, this has been replaced by varied data such as that of websites relevant to Goa.
A substantial chunk of buyers of the almanac are the Goan diaspora, and even the Portuguese speaking population in Daman, states Eric. In Goa, there's a vast base of subscribers based in South Goa.
TIDING OVER COSTS
The price of the almanac has increased over the years from paisas to rupees and the recent hike from ₹ 10 to ₹ 20 was done to meet the rising cost of printing and paper, and other overheads such as GST.
“We have never looked at profits. These steps have been taken to recover what has been invested while printing. Our aim is to keep the tradition of this almanac alive,” affirms Eric. He goes on to say how they have avoided including advertisements on the almanac, and it still finds a space on the shelf, despite the odds.
Not one to remain static to a disadvantage, Eric says they are thinking of, due to changing times, exploring the digital format to increase the reach of the almanac.
The future of the almanac seems bright for now as the next generation of the Correia family — namely Eric and Sheila's children, Ana Paula and Johnathan — are keen on taking this legacy forward, says Eric.
WHERE THE ALMANAC DE PAREDE IS AVAILABLE
South Goa: Livraria TG Borcar, MP Raikar, Emmanuel Printers, Zito Almeida, Tip Nacional Confidant, The Dogears Book shop, Epifanio Silva (Mercado Velho), Infant Jesus (Navelim)
North Goa: J Bhobe (Mapusa), Fundacao Oriente (Panjim)