BY PAUL FERNANDES
With Goa’s harvest festivals evolving in sync with current times and scenarios, Patoieanchem Fest, held for the first time in the historic village of Carambolim, turned out to be a heart-warmingly inclusive and multicultural event and more on Sunday.
The venue, Angela Residency, also referred to as Wilsha Courtyard, located on the western rim of a vast Khazan stretching from Agassaim in the southwest to Corlim and Gandaulim in the northeast, was a scenic spot.
Not far from the globally famous important bird and diversity area of Carambolim Lake along the Pilar-Old Goa road, the quiet place outside the palatial Valladares mansion started buzzing in the afternoon.
Curated by popular figure Marius Fernandes, known in Goa as Goencho Festakar, participants instantly realised it was the right place for the travelling festival – the 12th one.
Carambolim, a village that was devastated by plagues in the past, has several families – Viegas, Barros, Valladares and others – scattered in other parts of Goa.
The village with a large tribal population forms part of one of the state’s biggest rice bowls. And patoieo, obviously, is a much-loved sweet made from rice, coconut and jaggery.
Despite the sultry afternoon heat, the people started gathering in the Valladares family chapel of Nossa Senhora da Piedade along with host Angela Valladares. Gwendolyn de Ornelas carried a tray of patoieos to the altar, as the priest Fr Albert Leo blessed the sweets and other items after a short prayer.
The crowd then trouped out into the garden, receiving from Sabina D’Cunha and Fabian D’Souza boiled grams to munch on the way. In the past, and even now, boiled grams are a favourite for distribution after the litanies and feasts and visits of Our Lady to houses.
Spread out in the courtyard were a few tables, displaying the produce of the land – lady fingers, bitter gourd, ambade and other items and five main types of bread of Goa.
A few decorative items woven from coconut leaves by Shaila Khandeparkar and nine types of millets from India displayed by Goa College of Agriculture, Old Goa, were on view, too.
In conversation with senior journalist Prakash Kamat, Rajesh Naik, a panch and a Carambolim resident said that this was the right place to host the event, as the village with extensive tracts of agricultural land is known as a rice bowl in the area.
“All communities are involved in agriculture, especially the ST community, and they do all types of work in the fields and hillside,” he shared.
A popular Konkani saying goes, “Xenddlelim gorvam Kormollechea tolleant. (All lost cattle are found in the Karmali Lake). Naik explained that the villagers grew three crops, including one in the dried-up lake – now bisected by the Konkan railway track – during the March-August period.
“The laying of the track and stoppage of agriculture has impacted adversely the arrival of birds,” he said.
Earlier, the festival got off to a touching start with Prakash Kamat, when declaring open the event, appreciated the contribution of a few persons with disability in organising it.
Referring to the dying traditions, he said, “Santan Rebello is the one who is doing the rotecao work on a chair,” All this while, Rebello, sitting in a corner, was busy demonstrating his work, a dying art.
For integrating the persons with disability into the team, Fernandes received appreciation, as he imparted a humane and disabled-friendly touch to the event, allowing them to partake in the joys of festivity with others.
The rest of the afternoon and evening wore on quickly as a few workshops kept the crowd busy. Shaila Khandeparkar demonstrated the techniques of the dying art of weaving a mol’l – that could serve as a wall, shade, curtain and protection for the house in days of yore.
Later, chefs Marie and Irene Dias explained how patoieo and batica are made.
Participants relished pattoieo, chonneacho ros, sanna, satva, a rare nachnne (millet) sweet and washed it down with lemon grass futti (black) tea.
All these events were interspersed with enjoyable music, as Glenis Mendonca grabbed the guitar and sang with others some folk songs, followed by rapper Carisio Azavedo doing, as he said, his extempore performance.
A local troupe of performers drew applause for their lively fugdi dance, preceded by the kott’tti dance by the agriculture college students.
Ornelas also interviewed the principal and dean of Goa College of Agriculture, Old Goa, Dr Suresh Kunkalikar. Cleto Fernandes, an agriculture student, compered the programme.
Fernandes had started the Patoieanchem Fest in Salvador do Mundo and later held it in Socorro and Marcaim, among other places.