BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Hosting festivals throughout the year is the new DNA of Goa. Monsoons apart, no stone appears to be left unturned to find a reason to hold a festival and, going by the momentum, it is make hay whilst the sun shines for event management companies and different ministries of the government involved.
Festivals should provide grounds for people to celebrate the past whilst trying to imbibe in the youngsters a yearning to carry forward the legacy created by our ancestors and none have come anywhere close to realising the objectives.
The Government of Goa, through the ministry of tourism, flagged off the Sunburn Festival on the guise that tourists need to be attracted to Goa so as to boost the economy of the State. What happened is totally different.
Tourism in Goa has been growing much before Sunburn and much before footfalls of Indian tourists began to grow. Festivals in Goa do not add to footfalls because as has been seen – whether there are festivals or not – there is always an increase in the number of Indian tourists during the weekend and rollover holidays.
Tourism in Goa has been growing much before Sunburn and much before footfalls of Indian tourists began to grow. Festivals in Goa do not add to footfalls because as has been seen – whether there are festivals or not – there is always an increase in the number of Indian tourists during the weekend and rollover holidays
Festivals make things messy – especially along the coastal belts - as the government has failed to create infrastructure to handle such events. Ninety per cent of restaurants, especially in Anjuna and Vagator, curse festivals because their restaurants run empty when they should have been full.
It is obvious from such statements by restaurateurs and medical doctors in the region that festivals are for people who enjoy chemical drugs and not food. As is known, chemicals and good food are two different spectres of life which will never meet.
If the festivals are turning into eyesores on the coastal belts, they are not any better in the city with little from Goa or little that is our heritage being on display. In fact, the word heritage is being wrongly used.
Like it or not, festivals in Goa are not celebrations of the past or what is in store for our future but a splurge of money where a few people make a fast buck over the silence of many.
Today, festivals have come to mean that rules can be broken and that the public has no say and even if they did that say was muzzled through intrinsic methods of time delay that benefit bad versus good
Today, festivals have come to mean that rules can be broken and that the public has no say and even if they did that say was muzzled through intrinsic methods of time delay that benefit bad versus good.
A simple point in case is the manner in which the administrator of Communidade of North Goa overruled the resolution of the General Body to benefit organisers of festivals in blatant violation of the law. Sadly, just a few aggrieved approached the court and are fighting for their rights well after the events are over.
The Comunidade of Anjuna in its Annual General Body meeting (AGM) in November passed a resolution on fees that should be charged for hosting events on their land. Sunburn and Enfield Mania paid less, thanks to the administrator of North Goa Comunidade who has no authority.
It is obvious through reports from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that rules are being flouted while awarding contracts to event management companies hosting festivals.
The common excuse is – systems are not being followed due to short time frames. Festivals are indeed decided well in advance – say for example the Indian Film Festival of India - but work starts just a month before making room for manipulation.
Festivals should be accessible to all but in Goa they seem to be for Goans living in the capital or near to it or tourists opting to stay in North Goa. Whatever BE the thinking of the present-day dispensation, festivals in Goa are not being held out of Campal or out of Vagator where one is manifesting as a sin city and the other a hub of drugs.
Goa is soon to host Carnival and, once again, money will be spent on hosting the festival in the cities instead of the villages. Carnival was started in the villages of Goa and not the cities.
The money being spent by the government needed to go to the villages; to the people in the villages so that they could keep the tradition alive.
Unfortunately, as before, the villages are being ignored or the people living in villages are being forgotten or they are expected to come to the city to witness how tradition is being juiced by the financial greed of a few.
Goa has witnessed around six or more festivals since the end of the monsoons and we will be witness to more as June approaches and by then the writing on the wall will be clear – our silence will be abettor and our Government our wily opponents.