Protecting mando as intangible cultural heritage of Goa

When many of Goa’s products can get geographical indication (GI) status, the mando can also get an entry into India’s intangible cultural heritage list
There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.
There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.Gomantak Times

For two evenings, the mellifluous sounds of the mando filled the main hall of the Institute Menezes Braganza, reminding the few who cared to walk up the stairs to the hall that there is a part of Goa’s intangible heritage that has lived on and continues to do so.

Unfortunately, those persons who did trudge up those rather steep stairs were few, as on neither day was the hall, not overly large by any measure, filled to capacity. But the organisers of the mando festival and the troupes that participated in it did not appear deterred by the poor response.

There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.
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For them, the fact that this annual mando competition – this was the 55th edition – keeps this form of music alive is perhaps what brings satisfaction. For on the stage the show went on, even if at times the applause was subdued.

The mando festival, held annually and now also streamed live on social media platforms so that Goans across the world can get to see it, saw groups from across Goa converge at the IMB hall. The cloudy skies and threat of rain that never materialised, especially on day two of the festival, did not keep the participating groups away, even if it may have kept a few of the people at home.

There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.
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They came from various villages of Goa, with their guitars, their violins and the ghumot, some also brought the cello. The men in black suits and the women in traditional pano baju and handheld fans added colour to the stage. If there’s one thing that the mando festival says loudly and clearly, it is that it is far from a fading form of music.

And every Goan has to be thankful for that. But, is one festival a year, worthy of the mando? Or does it deserve much more and much better than that? It’s a question we should have been asking and answering, but have not been doing so. Perhaps it is time to start doing that now.

There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.
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A little about the mando. In 2010, releasing his book, Song of Goa, Jose Pereira who had co-authored the book with the legendary Micael Martins, had said that the mando was an ‘attempt to create a fantasy world on the banks of the Zuari, a Vienna surrounded by the forests of Salcete in lavish halls with chandeliers hanging from above, rich perfume in the air and the dance’. He had gone on to say that the mando as a dance was the ‘last aristocratic social dance created anywhere, faithful to the idea of cortezia (courtesy), joi (joy) and amor (love)’ expressing a ‘man’s shy veneration for women’.

There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.
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The mando is a fusion of Western and Indian music forms, and is perhaps the first such example of this amalgamation of this music, for as Pereira pointed out, it was Goa where Indian musicians first incorporated Western musical forms into their compositions. In the book he writes, ‘It was in Goa that European literary forms were first embodied in any Asian language, the language of Goa, Konkani. And it was in Goa that the first symbiosis of any Asian tradition of music with the European was realised, in Goan Song, of which the mando is the consummation.’

There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.
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There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world. It is a unique form of music and dance. It, therefore, is of extreme importance not only to preserve this particular genre of music and dance for future generations of Goans, but do more and get it listed as one of India’s intangible examples of cultural heritage. That should be the next task of the State. When many of Goa’s products can get geographical indication (GI) status, the mando can also get an entry into India’s intangible cultural heritage list.

There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.
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It won’t be a simple process or one that gets results quickly, but if there is a concerted effort in this regard, then it can happen. More importantly, individuals need to come together for this purpose to make a case for the inclusion of mando in the intangible cultural heritage list of India.

The unique qualities of the mando that have survived for generations cannot be permitted to be lost, and that too when its compositions are fewer, perhaps only composed for an annual festival or for some special occasion.

There is perhaps nothing like the mando elsewhere in the world.
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Recognition at the National level will spur the protection of this music and dance form as well as promote more musicians to take it up. That is the least that the people of Goa, who value the heritage that they have inherited, can and should do for the mando.

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