Friday, October 9, 2009

'Soro' - Part of Goan entertainment, tradition and culture

'Soro' - Part of Goan entertainment, tradition and culture
by Domnic Fernandes

Today, the word `entertainment' occupies center stage and has
become part and parcel of our lives. It exists in various forms
­ dances, movies, plays, parties, functions, tiatros, khell-
tiatros, casinos, you name it; this was not the case in the past.
Life in Goa, as recently as in the middle of the last century, during
which period I grew up, revolved around Mother Nature. Yes, nature
played a vital role in a person's life, as it not only provided the
means to live but it also entertained humankind in its own way.

Entertainment in those days was nature-based. People went up on a
hill in the evenings and watched the sunset and "patmari" (sailboats)
sail along the horizon of the Arabian Sea. Sunset has been an
entertainment for the eyes since time immemorial and it continues to
be so, the only difference today is that people/tourists gather on
seashores with their cameras with zoom lenses and shoot pictures of
the sunset; in those days, we clicked the picture and carried it in
our mind!

In the absence of the electricity, the moon was adored by people
because its light brought cheers to their lives; it shone brightly on
the mother earth and made the nights livelier, especially on full
moon nights. Peoples' mere visit to each other during moonlit nights
was considered an entertainment. They even walked long distances to
visit their relatives with the help of moonlight. Most people in
those days were quite pious. They looked at the shadow on the moon
and believed that it was the picture of Our Lady with the Infant
Jesus in her arms. They appreciated nature's kindness and considered
it as entertainment. It's altogether another story that full moon
night parties at Danddo in Anjuna in the late 1960's and 1970's would
become world-famous entertainment, making them a special global

People watched flights of the migratory and other local birds,
including crows in the skies and admired their synchronization; it
was an entertainment for their eyes. The monsoon season, especially
when it rained heavily and villages remained immersed in rain water
for a couple of days or more making it impossible to step out of the
house, it was entertainment time for married people, the result:
Goa's population graph would give rise in 9 months' time!

Today, people wake up at the musical ring of an alarm clock or a
mobile or a television wake up call. In the past, they woke up to
the rooster's call or at the chirping of birds at the dawn. Sounds
produced by various animals brought joy to the ears and were
considered an entertainment. Whenever the wind blew and tree
branches and palm leaves swayed, people admired and considered it
nature's wonder; it was an entertainment to their eyes, and nature,
in turn, was always kind to them. People watched the rivers flow and
thanked the creator for their creation. They went to the seashores
and spent hours watching the vast ocean before their eyes and
appreciated the waves which formed in the sea and broke on the shores
splashing tons of water which traveled up front to the farthest tip
of the shore, and this was an entertainment to them.

> There was no music entertainment in the olden days. Aside from a
bird song, music is not entirely the field of humankind. The noises
produced by work such as pounding seed and roots into meal, is a
likely source of rhythm created by early humans. Monkeys have been
witnessed to beat on hollow logs. Although this might serve some
purpose of territorialism, it suggests a degree of creativity and
seems to incorporate a call and response dialogue.
> The origin of music likely stems from natural sounds and rhythms:
the human heartbeat, the songs of birds, the rustling of wind through
trees, the thunder and sound of rain, the dripping of water in a
cave, the crackle of a burning fire and the sounds of waves breaking
on a beach or bubbles in a brook.
> It is most likely that the first musical instrument was the human
voice itself, which can make a vast array of sounds, from singing,
humming and whistling (more musical forms) through to clicking,
coughing and yawning (less musical). It is also most likely the
first instruments were percussion instruments, the clapping of hands,
stones hit together, or other things that are useful to create rhythm.
> Life in the past was not as busy as today. People had plenty of
time to chit-chat with each other. Women cooked their food and while
they waited for their men to return home from their work in the
fields or in the high seas, they gathered either in their
own "balcao" (verandah) or went to their neighbor's and kept on
gossiping as if they were running a Laundromat!
> Gossip took place wherever women met and worked. One of the most
common places for women to gossip was at a "dha zannanchi bhaim" (at
a community water well) and this is how the _expression "bhaimcher
gozali/khobro" (gossip at a water well) came to be known about. Yes,
one of the entertainments of the past was "gozali" (gossip). Even
men gossiped and they still do. If you want to know what's going on
in a place/village, just step into a bar and you will get to know
each and every detail of the happenings which no newspaper will be
able to give you.
> In the olden days man hunted his prey and lived on it. One of the
reptiles that Goans hunted and still hunt was "Garr" (Monitor
lizard.) They made the best use of every part of the reptile. They
cooked delicious "xakuti" out of its meat; drank its fresh blood
mixed with fenni to cure asthma disease, and used its skin for
a "ghumot" (the oldest Goan percussion). Once the instrument was
born, it was used at every function ­ birth, "sottvi rat"
sixth night), christening, wedding, etc. The "Manddo" which has its
origins in the Konkani word "mandd" or village square considered
sacred and almost always reserved for performances dedicated to the
village deity, which eventually evolved as a ballroom dance in the
19th century and became a popular component at wedding celebrations,
was performed to the accompaniment of a fusion of musical instruments
that included the "ghumot."
> Ancestral Goans were basically farmers and fishermen who lived on
the farming and fishing. Both these professions are quite laborious
and tiresome but the two friends from their communities ­
the "render" (toddy taper) and "kazkar" (a person who buys
the right
to harvest cashew fruits from a hill through a "panvnni"
[auction/tender]) brought solace to their lives. At the end of the
day, these two friends would supply men from both the communities
with "sur" (toddy) and "nira" (the last dripping of the
cashew fruit), which they consumed until they got intoxicated; it
gave them relief and helped them get good sleep. As time went by,
the distillation process was introduced and the "render" as well
as "kazkar" began to produce liquor which they named "maddanchi
fenni" (palm fenni) and "cajunchi fenni" (cashew fenni)
respectively. Both these brands were embraced by every Goan
irrespective whether he was a "bhattkar" (landlord) or a
(tenant), but they became more
> famous with the poor masses.
> All of a sudden, our ancestors had found a new way of entertainment
­ drinking liquor. With its introduction, people's mood shot up
and the male members from both the communities got together more
often to play the "ghumot" and perfected its beat. Gradually, they
added more instruments ­ another percussion, oval in shape, about
two feet long, called the "madhiem", and "kansaem"
­ a pair of
thick concave brass plates. A "sumbacho" (piece of coir rope) is
passed through a hole in the middle of the plates and then a bunch
of "kato" (coconut husk) is tied to each end so one can hold and
strike them glancingly together. Whenever too much noise is made,
people say: "Kitem baba sogllo vell kanalagim kansaiim vazoita!"
> Roughly translated, it means to make unbearable noise.
> As they went on playing the instruments, they also composed (in
their mind ­ not on paper) short, one or two-line verses which
they sang rhythmically to the beat of percussions in the background.
Education at the time was almost non-existent. As such, most players
were illiterate but all of them had a fine ear for the beats ­
the synchronization among the players was just great. Don't they say
that Goans are born with music in their blood? These enthusiasts
went on improving the art of playing the percussions and singing, and
they gradually composed short one-verse songs followed by a verse and
a chorus. In the meantime, some of their children attended church
schools where they learned how to read and write and to play violin
and read "solfas" (music notes.) Over the years, their children
improved the composition of songs and increased it to 2-verse and 2-
choruses. This is where the idea of arranging a small skit crossed
their mind, and a "zagor" was born.
> In Konkani, "zagor" literally means "staying awake". "Zagors" are
usually vigils of song and dance kept up all through the night and
are intended to keep both people and village spirits alert and
awake. A typical "zagor" brings in performances that include flower
sellers, village headmen, temple dancers (kolvontam), the village
idiot or drunk and village guardian spirits called "sovongam"
e.g., "Borim sovongam korta mure tum!" (You are doing nice acts!)
> A "zagor" was one of the first public entertainments that
in Goa over a century ago. It is an old form of tiatro in which only
males participate ­ they dress up as girls/women and enact the
given role. Those who enacted female roles mostly wore reddish
dresses; they wore flowers on their heads and bangles in their hands,
and applied "binddichim solam" (kokom) on their lips in place of
lipstick. This is why whenever a girl/woman dresses up in odd colors
and applies too much powder and lipstick, people remark: "Neslam
polle zagor koxem" (she has dressed up as if in a zagor!) In the
1950's, people mostly watched the "zagor" by standing or sitting
the ground. However, a couple of rows of chairs would be arranged
close to the stage for those who wanted to sit down.
> Anyone wanting to occupy a chair had to pay 4 annas for the seat,
which was a great thing in those days and only a few could afford to
do that.
> There is no musical band for a zagor but the whole show is run on
the traditional band which consists of ­ Gumttam, Madhiim and
Kansaim played from behind the stage. Almost all of the songs
are "zupatteos" (critique) based on real facts in a village ­
this guy did that to that fellow, so and so woman is friendly with so
and so guy; so and so woman gave illegitimate birth to Mr. XYZ's
child, etc. This is why in those days parents did not allow their
children to attend a "zagor" as it carried a sort of
certificate. "Bhattkars" were reluctant to attend a zagor because
they were always criticized for their highhandedness and ill-
treatment of the poor.
> If they attended, the moment a song was sung about them, all eyes
would turn on them and sometimes the crowd would call out their names
and say: "Ar're Girgol bhattkara, borem korun aik fo…chea!"
(Landlord Gregory, listen carefully you son of a gun!) Thus, the
public would make mockery and embarrass them if present in the crowd.
> At the end of the show, one could listen to people's gossip on
their way home thus: "Hanvem aikolelem gho Mari ki tea Lurdinank ani
Xaerak borem assam mhunn punn sarkich khobor nasli. Aiz Abelache
zupatte pormonnem soroll gomon eilem tankam khorench borem asa
mhunnon" (I had heard Mary that something was going on between
Lourdinha and Xavier but I was not sure.
> Today I came to know through Abel's "zupatti" that they are
> In Anjuna, zagor is held in Peddem every alternate year, sometime
in January, in connection with "Advogad Saibinninchea/Boramchea
Festak" (at Our Lady of Advocate/Boram feast.) It is also held in
Guddean in Siolim in connection with a "Zatra". The show there has
gone commercial now and attracts a lot of tourists. It also used to
be held in Calangute but it no longer takes place there now.
> I know four villages where the traditional band is played - Anjuna,
Siolim, Baga and Calangute. Basically, the players are toddy
tapers. A toddy taper begins his toddy tapping process at dawn,
repeats it in the afternoon and winds it up at dusk. In the process,
he climbs dozens of coconut trees.
> Though his work is tiresome, he is always in a jovial mood and that
is evident from his singing and whistling while he goes up and down
several coconut trees a day. Being human, he, too, feels tired at
the end of the day and what better way to drown his tiredness than
sitting in his "balcao" and gulping down the very palm fenni he has
produced out of toddy! He also has his friends' circles that join
him for the evening drinks.
> As soon as the rainy season begins (in the past, it began by May
15,) toddy taping comes to a halt, as water gets into the "zamnno" (a
special clay pot used to collect toddy) and also moss begins to form
on the trunk of coconut trees, thus making it dangerous for him to
climb the trees. So, toddy tapers become temporarily idle. I say
temporarily because as soon as water gathers in the fields they begin
the field work. It is at this time, say from May 15 until June 24 -
St. John's feast day - that they get together and arrange to play the
traditional band on a weekly basis; they mostly hold the sessions on
Saturdays. They start to play at around 7:00 p.m. and wind up at
around 10:30 p.m. The act of playing the band is called "bondd
lavop". It is so called because unless the "bondd" ­ a
paste of
cooked rice and hay ash - is applied to the center of the "madhiem",
it cannot produce that special sound which travels with the wind to a
few kilometers distance. Although the band
> produces a lot of noise, unlike today, nobody complained about the
sound because it was the only entertainment that was available in a
village then!
> In Anjuna, the band is played in three wards ­ Kuddchem Bhatt,
Peddem and Chinvar. Since my house is located at the foot of a hill,
we can clearly hear the sound of a madhiem as soon as they begin to
play the band at any of the said three places. On a still night, the
sound of a madhiem can be heard across the hill in Parra village,
which is about five kilometers distance from any of the above three
mentioned wards. As soon as one of the groups begins to play the
band, we at Gaumvaddy say: Aiz Kuddchea Bhattan/Peddear/Chinvarin
bondd lailam; San Juanvchi toieari zali!" (Today, they are playing
the traditional band at Kuddchem Bhatt/Peddem/Chinvar; this means
preparation of St. John's feast has begun!)
> A person singing a solo or a duet or a trio or a quartet or a
quintet in a "zagor," dances to the beats of Gummot-Madhiem-Kansaem.
He sings a verse of a song followed by a chorus at the end of which
a "modd" (stop-gap) is given, after which the second verse and chorus
follows and then the third.
> The same is applicable to a "kant" in a scene. On the whole,
the "madhiem" and "ghumot" support the act in a play just
as a set of
drums does.
> Recently, as an added attraction, a violin has been introduced in a
zagor; the violinist sits in front of the stage.
> The local traditional band is played by sitting around a fire on
the floor so that the players can easily warm the skin on "ghumot"
and "madhiem" in order to make it firmer which then produces better
sound. So, the players squat on the floor in a circle
with "sonn'nnancho uzo" (coconut husk fire) in a "kail"
container) placed in the middle. Coconut husks are used because they
produce a mild fire.
> A zagor cannot take place without liquor, as it is a must when
playing a traditional band. Usually, in the olden days, they kept
a "mathiecho kovso" (earthen pot) filled with "maddanchi
fenni" (palm
fenni) ­ toddy tapers' favorite - on a pile of "renv"
several clean-shaved half coconut shells were made available which
served as cups. A person was assigned to serve liquor to the
players; he also manned the the fire and kept it going.
> He would pour the fenni from the "kovso" in an empty bottle and
then pass it around; each one would fill his "kott'tti" (coconut
shell-cup) and gulp down the fenni but never without taking the name
of God and without throwing out a little quantity of liquor to the
spirits; some would throw out the whole contents of the first cup.
Once each one of the players had his quota, they would tune their
percussions by slowly feeling the skin with their hands and then
giving it a mild touch to test the firmness of the skin. The leader
would then ask his partners: "Suru korumiea mure?" (Shall we
start?) They would then recite one Our Father and Hail Mary and the
leader would say:
> Borem tor ­ ek, don, tin (ok then - one, two, three) and with
that a piece would start. Each piece lasts for about 10 minutes.
Just as in an orchestra or a band, the leader controlls his players
with his eyes which pop out at the slightest off beat. He signals
the end of a piece with a nod of his head.
> Just like the "zagor" in the North, the South Goa also had
something called "zomnir khell" which was very famous during Intruz
(Carnival) time. As a child, I witnessed many of these at my
maternal place at "Kolea Bhatt" in Benaulim. People eagerly looked
forward to having a gala time during the three days of Intruz when
several guys would enact short skits. For drops, they used
a "kapodd" (cotton sari) which was fixed to bamboo sticks which were
temporarily planted in the ground. The entry of a scene would be
made from one end of the "kapodd" and exit from the other. For
drums, they used "khali petrolacho dhobo" (empty kerosene tin) and
used a stick to beat it, but there were some who used a "ghumot."
The skits were short but of class quality. There was a famous
comedian called Xempea Minguel; he was everyone's hero. Most actors
belonged to fisher folk who were used to drinking. As such, there
was never a shortage of drinks. In fact, one of the persons was
assigned to carry
> liquor bottle(s) in a "lugttachi poti" (cloth bag) and he
with the group and served them liquor as and when they asked for it.
> It is these little "zomnir khell" skits that ultimately
into "Khell-Tiatro" and the full credit goes to the late Rosario
Rodrigues who perfected the art and presented it to the public
as "Non-Stop Khell-Tiatro." Do you remember one of the hit songs of
1979 - "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles? Well,
what more or less happened to the Tiatro upon introduction of the
Khell-Tiatro, which superceeded it because of excellent stage and
time management.
> My mother's name is Rita; she was colloquially known as Ritin. As
a child, I was known in Kolea Bhatt as "Ritnangelo cheddo." My
mother's "mama" (mother's brother), Piedade Fernandes, was
one of the
World War II returnee soldiers; hence, they referred to his house
as "Soldad Pidadiger"; the house is now in ruins. We brought my
maternal grandmother to Anjuna in the early 1950's after which I
stopped going to Salcete. I am very much interested in re-
establishing contacts with my mother's family in Kolea Bhatt.
> In the late 1960's, I came across a nice guy, Joao Fernandes, who
worked as a laborer and stayed at my sister's place in Gaumvaddy
itself. He claimed to hail from Benaulim, Salcete. He was a good
singer and told us he had participated in many "zomnir khell". He
knew almost all of Minguel Rod's songs. On every Saturday, a long
time friend of mine (since 1966), Carlos Teles (from Curtorim whose
sister is married to my sister's neighbor) and I would ask him to
entertain us with his songs, Manddo, Dekhnni, Dulpod, etc.
> Before he could start to sing, he would say: "Bab re, tallo sukol
eso, matre ollsar korum zai aslo nim?" (My throat is dry, how about
making it wet?) His fee was just one quarter pint liquor. He
wouldn't take another sip even if we offered him money; he may have
been poor but he was a man of principle! If we forced him, he would
say: "Titlem pur baba; hanv thokolam; potta bukh lagolea; jeichea
zai atam." (That's enough; I am tired and hungry; I need to eat
now.) He always sang with gestures as if he was on a stage. Here
are a few lines of a song which I still remember and which he sang
with all his might and action:
> Sezarea fobor bori, Jil fuim haleam ieta gori
> Sezarea fobor bori, Jil fuim haleam ieta gori
> Borem sundorem sodun, login taka kori
> Borem sundorem sodun, login taka kori
> Lognank ami oichim sezarea ­ sezarea
> Don ghoddeanchi gaddi ghevn sezarea - don ghoddeanchi gaddi ghevn
> Lognank ami oichim sezarea ­ sezarea
> Don ghoddeanchi gaddi ghevn sezarea - don ghoddeanchi gaddi ghevn
> Similarly, there was a Hindu guy from Voilo Vaddo in Gaumvaddy
called Ghorku. He acted in local Marathi Nataks and was quite a good
actor. He, too, didn't mind to give us little performances whenever
we asked him to do so, especially on Sunday afternoons, at a nominal
fee of a quarter pint of liquor. So, if he happened to pass by my
house or my sister's, my friend and I would call him and ask him to
perform Natak scenes for us which he did with great perfection. His
only complain was that he couldn't do justification to his role
without having a real "talvar" (sword ) in hands; so, we would give
him a "tonnko" (thick stick) at which he would say: "Ho
tonnko mure baba, loknnanche tolvarik sor zata?" (This is a wooden
stick, how can you compare it to a metal sword?" We would then give
him a "koito" (machete) and ask him to imagine that it was a sword.
He would say: "Ho koito daktto, punn loknnancho ­ choltolo."
(This machete is small but made of metal ­ will
> do.) The fact that he insisted on a real sword goes to prove that
even an accessory in a scene makes a lot of difference if one is to
portray the given role to its perfection. At the end of the show,
everyone dispersed happily entertained, and Ghorku also left for his
home on a happy note as he had gotten his quota for the day without
putting in much effort.
> Mr. Lucasinho Ribeiro from Assagao staged the first tiatro "Italian
Bhurgo" in Bombay on April 17, 1892. My birth was not even planned
when the tiatro was staged, as I was born in the 1940's. However, I
have a feeling Lucasinho must have been influenced by the "zagor"
activities in the adjoining villages of Anjuna and Siolim and this is
what might have prompted him to present the art in a refined form of
a tiatro.
> I was and am still a great lover of tiatros. I began to attend
tiatros at a tender age of 8. I don't remember skipping any tiatro
held in Mapusa from the 1950's till I left for the Gulf in the early
1970's, and I still make it a point to attend at least one tiatro
during my yearly vacation. As a 10-year old boy, accompanied by
elderly boys, I would travel on my bicycle from Anjuna to neighboring
and other villages - Arpora, Calangute, Candolim, Assagao, Parra,
Siolim, Mapusa and even Panaji to attend tiatros.
> Tiatro was the only entertainment in the 1950's and 1960's
though "zagor" was also staged simultaneously in the North in the
villages of Anjuna, Siolim and Calangute. It is true that the
quality of tiatros in those days was not up to the mark but then what
else could we expect from the artists then? Whatever they gave to
the public then was really great! A tiatro in the early days was a
continuation of a zagor which was nothing but critique/gossip. I am
not talking about Kid Boxer's or Anthony-Nelson-Conception
trio "zupatteos" which were politics-related but I am talking about
local gossip-related "zupatteos." Till today, some remote areas
still include some "zupatteos" in a local tiatro.
> I have witnessed "Zagor" from the early 1950's followed by
raw form
of tiatro which has improved tremendously over the years, but there
is still plenty of room for improvement. As far as songs are
concerned, I don't think any other community has as many song
composers as we have in Goa, for most everyone who sings a song
composes his own. Usually, the composition is quite good and always
carries a message/lesson to the public. What is most interesting is
that nobody carries a piece of paper with lyrics on the stage but one
is required to memorize the lyrics and render them without forgetting
a single word! In the Hindi language they say: "Jo kuch bolna hai
voh sangeet se bolo" (whatever you want to say, express it through a
song). Similarly, whatever message our singers may have, they pass
it on to the public through their songs.
> Many of our past tiatros and songs embarrassed the erstwhile
Portuguese authorities, and post-liberation they shook various
governments and caused their fall. Such is the strength of our
tiatro and song writers, and that's because most of them, especially
the writers of the past, never acted alone ­ they always had
somebody for their "podrak" (support) and that support was none other
than "soro". It is not only tiatrists who became victims of the
liquor but also many good writers.
> Tiatros were held mostly at night. Although the timing on the
handbill was given as: "Justuch ratchea dha horar" (exactly at 10:00
p.m.,) a tiatro never began until after 11:00 p.m., which meant it
would end only after 3:00 a.m. by which time we would feel very
hungry. The only director who was punctual was the late J.P.
Souzalin uncle; he began his shows exactly at the given time on a
handbill and wound them up within 4 hours.
> The only eatables that were available outside a "tiatracho
(temporary tiatro barrack) were "bhoje ani mirsango" ani
soda ani xerbot" as soft drinks. Adults carried pints of liquor in
their pockets and sipped from it throughout the tiatro. The "sodkar"
(the one who sold soda) also stocked cashew and palm fenni with him
and sold it to whomever asked for it. By the time the tiatro was
over, we children would feel very hungry ­ "dont pottan koim-koim
korun avaz kortalet ani uchamboll zavn voir-sokol bonvadde martalet"
(the worms would restlessly make rounds in our stomach and produce
koim-koim noise!)
> Due to the steep "Asgonvchi/Khorlechi choddti" (Assagao/Khorlim
slope,) Anjunkars mostly went to Mapusa via Parra. Everyone knows
that Parra is very famous for "Por'richi kallingam" (Parra water
melons). As soon as a tiatro was over, we would pedal as fast as we
could to get to the "kallingache molle" (water melon orchards.) Once
there, we would make use of the torch, pick up ripe water melons,
bang them on the ground and devour them as if we starved for days! I
traveled to Escola Technica in Mapusa by the same route. When I
passed by the orchards in the morning, I could sometimes hear the
women in the field curse: "Mapxeam anik tiatro korunk pavonakat.
Amchim kallingam khateleanchem padd poddonv; tanchea pottantle dont
toklek choddon te veginch moronv!" (May they not be able to hold any
more tiatros in Mapusa. May those who ate our water melons be
cursed; may the worm in their stomach rise to their heads and may
they die!) Upon listening to their curses, I would feel
> sick but immediate recitation of one Our Father and Hail Mary
would bring solace to my mind and stomach! So you see; tiatro for us
in those days was not just an entertainment but also a night
adventure. This is why when I received my first bicycle at the age
of 10, I insisted on having a "Miller" dynamo for it so that I could
attend tiatros at night!
> It is only from the 1970's that educated actors began to join the
fray of tiatrists. Earlier, most tiatrists had very little
education; some of them barely knew how to read or write and that's
because they came from poor peasant and fisher folk background. They
worked very hard during the day and when the sun set, they would do
away with their tiredness by drinking "Cajuncho vo Maddancho soro"
(Cashew or Palm Fenni), which they considered as a medicine because
it gave them great relief after a hard day's work and also enabled
them to get sound sleep.
> In the olden days as soon as the monsoon season began, the
(professional fishermen) from Baga would pass by my house and proceed
to Xapora for "kantt'ttaiek." They carried a long bamboo stick
their shoulders, at one end of which hung a rectangular woven basket
and at the other end a bundle of "kantt'ttaii" (fishing net) was
placed, and over that a "kambol" (local blanket ­ it was the
blanket which was partly water proof) rested. The dinner was wrapped
in banana leaf which was further wrapped to a cloth and then fastened
in the middle of the bamboo stick.
> Each one of the "pagi" carried a quarter or half pint (depending
each individual's drinking capacity) mostly filled with palm fenni,
which they would consume at night. Liquor was a necessity for them
because it was the only thing that could generate heat in their
bodies and prevent them from catching cold due to constantly
remaining immersed in the water and also due to exposure to rainfall
and cold weather.
> They would start fishing at around 3:00 a.m., and leave Xapora for
home with their catch at around 6:00 a.m. They sold their catch,
mostly "sungott-burantto", on their way home. The people knew as
soon as a "pagi" arrived from their loud call "NISTEV"
­ I
initially wondered which ESTEV (Esteven) they were calling out!
There were a couple of guys who were known to us and who brought us
the best fish; one of them had the same name as mine - Domingos.
They would hide the special catch either at the bottom of the basket
under "sungott-burantte" or tie it to a wet "kashti",
fasten it to
the bamboo stick and place fishing net or "kambol" on it so that no
one could see it. They always brought the best fish to us because my
mother gave them "copachem" (liquor) on their way to Xapora and also
tea and "chapati" when they arrived at our place at around 7:00 in
the morning.
> Obviously, they were grateful and reciprocated by giving us the
best fish for cheap price.
> Little did I know that after about thirty years I would come across
those very fishermen from Baga as expert players of local traditional
band! In fact, I brought them over to my house five times to teach us
to play the local band. When they agreed to come to my place, they
politely told me that they needed plenty of liquor while they played
the band. I readily agreed and assured them there would be no
shortage of liquor during the sessions. After all, they were
sacrificing their time and coming to my place to give us lessons,
and, above all, they were my guests.
> Since almost all of the yesteryear actors came from farmer/fisher
folk background, whenever they were required to act/sing in a zagor
or tiatro, the only time they could afford to attend rehearsals was
in the evening.
> Usually, the evenings were meant to relax at home or at a
neighbor's house and enjoy a couple drinks of the fenni. This being
the case, the Director of a tiatro had to make sure that he served
the drinks at rehearsals and even on the stage when a tiatro was
taking place or else the actors/singers refused to attend rehearsals
or act in tiatros. So you see, the connection between
tiatrists/kantorists and liquor is not today's, but it has been there
for ages, and it has become a culture-related thing by now.
> They say: "Borea follak sodanch kidd lagta" (A good fruit
gets rotten.) And this is exactly what happened to many of our best
tiatrists ­ Minguel Rod, Champion Peter, Francis de Parra,
Bernardo de Aldona to name a few. Each one of these actors was a
genius in his own way. Their composition was superb and that's
because they portrayed actual facts in their songs and tiatros as
they witnessed it.
> One of the hidden talents and backbones of the Goan stage, Inas
Caitan (Inacio Caetano) Travasco from Santa Cruz/Borovli, Bombay,
also became a victim of liquor. He was my first cousin sister's,
Maria Archangela's husband. He was one of the best composers of the
1950's and 1960's. He charged Rs.3-5/- for a song and wrote and sold
a drama for just Rs.50/-.
> Many yesteryear singers and actors, including the late M. Dod de
Verna, bought their songs and dramas from him.
> In the olden days, godparents came from close family members and in
the 1950's and 1960's it became a sort of fashion to have renowned
Konkani singers/actors as godparents. It was also believed at the
time that the godparents, who place their hands on a child's head at
the time of christening ceremony, imparted their character on the
godchild. I have seen it happen many a times, and it did happen in
our family. Bernardo de Aldona who rose to fame with his popular
song "Suknnem Zavn Uddon Gelem" (She Became a Bird and Flew Away,)
joined the tiatrists' fraternity, conquered it within a short span of
time and "Parvo Zavn Torne Piraer Uddon Gelo" (He became a dove and
flew away at a tender age.) When on stage, he was a replica of
Minguel Rod ­ he had to be pushed on the stage and once there, he
would sing and make gestures with one hand and balance himself from
falling down by placing the other hand on the "pod'do" (curtain)
behind him, but he never forgot the lines of his
> song(s) and the public didn't mind or criticize his drinking habit
because they got the value of their ticket in listening to his
songs. Inacio Caetano's son was named after Bernardo de Aldona. As
fate would have it, he too succumbed to liquor in Vikhroli, Bombay,
at the tender age of 29! Did Bernado's hand on his godchild's head
on the christening day really influence his life? I don't know, but
everyone known to the family said so. Believe it not!
> In the olden days and even till today most villages in Goa arranged
for a tiatro on the night of a village Patron Saint's feast or even
at a main chapel's feast. In Anjuna, we always have a tiatro in the
church yard at "Advogad Saibinninchea festak" - the main Anjuna
church feast (the patron's, St. Michael's feast, takes place in
October) ­ the feast is also known as "Boranchem Fest"
the month of January, when the feast takes place, happens to be the
season of "Boram"; "Saud Saibinninchea festak" at
Mazalvaddo or at
Tembi; ani "St. Antonichea festak" at Vagator.
> As I mentioned earlier, tiatro was the only entertainment in those
days. As soon as a tiatro was in the making, word of mouth would
spread that so and so was writing a tiatro which would be staged at
so and so feast. As soon as the rehearsals began, the whole village
would come to know about the tiatro and each one would be looking
forward to the day when it would take place; people would already
begin to save money for the ticket. As children, we planned for a
tiatro entertainment for weeks and would keep on counting the days
until the "vesperachi rat" (the night of vespers) arrived, as the
tiatro would take place on the next day!
> In those days and till today the advertisement of a tiatro was done
through posters. At a "festacho tiatro", a poster would be
prominently placed at the entrance of church yard. Though already a
little late for the "festachea missak" (feast/high mass), people
would halt at the poster and have a quick glance at it. Throughout
the mass the name of the tiatro and actors would come to mind with
flashbacks of their previous performances.
> Most of the tiatros held at feasts in those days and even today
were in aid of some cause, especially church/chapel. Therefore, the
parish priest or the chaplain always makes an announcement at the end
of each mass about the drama to take place on that night and requests
the public to buy tickets and help the cause. Once the feast mass is
over, everyone rushes out of the church to visit the fair ­ the
people attending the mass outside the church reach the fair faster
than those inside the church. One of the first things people do is
to again read the "tiatracho tokt'to" in order to gather a
picture ­ the name of the tiatro, the place where it is to be
held and actors' names.
> In the past, a "ganvcho" (local) tiatro would feature local
heroines and singers, but would add a couple of professional singers
as an added attraction. If an outside tiatro was brought for the
feast, the producer would make sure to include pictures of at least
one famous local actor, preferably two, on the handbill. Frank
Rose's photo always featured on a handbill whenever a tiatro was held
in Anjuna followed by Marcelino Raza's from "Kuddchem Bhatt."
Marcelino was one of the best local singers Anjuna produced. Believe
it or not, he did not know how to read or write. He did toddy taping
at Gaumvaddy. Frank Rose, a tiatro writer, director and
actor/actress (mostly peformed female roles) composed songs for him
and taught him one line per day. He never forgot a line of his
song! He was also one of the best "madhiem" players in Anjuna; no
wonder he had such a good ear for music! He was one of my tutors who
taught me to play "madhiem." He passed away about 15 years ago.
> God bless his soul.
> One of the singers who made the most of the part-time singing in
local dramas during his heyday was none other than the only Goan
Padmashree Award winner, M. Boyer. He would participate in at least
three dramas a day in different parts of Goa - North, South and
Ilhas/other parts ­ the timing of the shows being ­ 10:30
a.m., 6:30 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. He would ask the organizers to
schedule his songs during the first half of a tiatro so he could
travel from one place to the other. Sometimes, the program leaflet
indicated one each of Boyer's songs in the first and second half but
to people's surprise, Boyer would show up in two consecutive
(scenes) in the first half itself and disappear or head for another
show. Today, he is ailing from Parkinson's disease and is totally
dependent on his family.
> I visited him in February this year and took his blessings. May he
recover from his illness soon!
> The poster displayed at the church yard always mentioned the place
(s) tickets were available for sale. Tickets were also kept for sale
at some of the stalls or "khajekara lagim" (with the guy who
sells `khajem' sweets) in the fair. One poster would be displayed
at "Lokximonnancho Posro" (Laxman's shop ­ the only posro
Anjuna in Mazalvaddo in the 1950's.) Sometimes, another poster
would be placed at a road junction so that people proceeding to
Parra/Assagao/Siolim/Arpora/Saligao/Calangute/Candolim or Mapusa
could get to know about the show that night.
> There were hardly any cars in the 1950's and 1960's but somehow
tiatro organizers would arrange for a car in order to advertise a
tiatro. The poster was placed in the hood and tied to the cover with
a "sumbacho".
> Three persons occupied the car ­ the driver and two persons on
the back seat ­ one would do the announcement and throw out
handbills from the window and the other held the gramophone and
played Konkani song records.
> As soon as the feast mass was over, the car hired to advertise
the "festacho tiatro" could be seen parked a little away from
the "festachi ferri" (feast fair.) The moment they saw the people
exit the church and rush to the fair, they would begin their
advertisement. Once people finished buying "poskotte"
(balloons), "kaddieo-boddieo" (Goan feast specialty sweets),
bazlele chon'ne" (oven fried grams), "killkulle vo khevcheo
(toys), etc., they would return home on feet. The car would then
proceed towards the interior of the village and continue to
distribute handbills.
> After a while, they would stop the announcement and play a song on
the gramophone. One of the most common songs that was used for
advertisement in those days was a song by the high-pitched, melodious
singer, Remie Colaco, titled "Ankvar Moriechem Dukh." Here are
lyrics of the song which are over half a century old:
> I
> Sonvsarant patki ami, torui axetanv bhogunk sukh
> Sonsinozo konnanchean matui pottak hea laglear bukh
> Zo konn bulta hea sonvsarak, patt korun Devak, te adharta vhoddli
> Kiteak upkarta sonvsar, chintlear Ankvar Moriechem dukh
> Chorus
> Putak tichea marit velo dongrar tea judevanim
> Tachea pattlean apunn bonvli roddon dukhanim
> Kitem bhoglenam zait pollovn putak toplolo tea bhaleanim
> Sangat oslem dukh sonvsarant bhoglam khuimchea maimanim
> II
> Kossolich chukh nastannam Jezuk kelo guneanvkari
> Fafxili kudd tachi marun rogtancheo keleo zori
> Sangat konn avoi sonxit dolleam mukar aplea putak oslem korit tori
> Punn hem sogllem dukh sonsun ravli eklich Ankvar Mori
> Chorus
> Jezuchea khandar khuris divn voddit velo topun bhale
> Udok passun pivonk divunk nam kosle voddvodde
> Jezuchim angostram pinzun judevanim bhognar kele
> Osle munis azun assat Dhoniam ugodd tanche dolle
> Konnank lagon Maien sonslem ani golloilim dukam
> Kiteak Jezu khursar melo sangchi goroz nam tumkam
> Munis vissorlet Devak, bhulon hea sonvsarak, chodd zalint
munxeachim patkam
> Dekun Jezu khursar melo salvar korunk amkam
> Chorus
> Tea passot aikat kaido amcho soglleam Kristavancho
> Sonvsarant assosor mog korunk Igroz Mathecho
> Jezucho mog korun cholomiea rosto bhavartacho
> Ani ghevumiea vantto Saibinnimche dukhicho
> Thus, the tempo for the drama would be set. While the "festachem
jevonn" was going on, one of the known faces/organizers of the tiatro
would arrive at a house and knock at the door. As soon as the head
of the family came out, he would greet him: "Dev boro donpar dium;
happy feast ankol! Tiatracheo tiketti haddleat; kitleo zai tumkam?"
(Good afternoon; happy feast uncle. I brought tiatro tickets, how
many would you like to buy?)
> Most people took the person's visit to the house as a blessing
because the tickets were brought to their doorsteps. The head of the
family would ask the guy to wait for a while, go inside and question
loudly: "Aiz rati konn tiatrak ieta?" (Who wants to come for a
tiatro at night?) Most everyone would raise their hands and
say "Hanv ietam." (I am coming) but some would say "Moji tokli
foddta; mojea potan chabta; hanv einam" (I have a headache; I have a
stomachache; I am not coming.) Of course, this was good news for the
head of the family who had to buy the tickets for everyone of his
family members plus the guests, unless the head of the family
happened to be a Basurkar who did not mind to buy any amount of
tickets. Sometimes, a Basurkar guest volunteered to buy the tickets,
reached his wallet and handed out the required amount. The head of
the family would then go outside and tell the guy: "Baba amkam dha
tiketti dhi!" (Please give us ten tickets.)
> Obviously, the guy would jump with joy and depart with a smile on
his face!
> By the time we arrived home from the church, Dharma, a contractor
from Ximer, Arpora, who erected temporary "machi" (stage)
and "mattov" (barrack) was seen passing by my house with his bullock
cart filled with all the necessary material required for a stage and
barrack like "korve" (coconut tree trunks), "vanxe"
beams) "mani" (bamboo sticks), "guntlele sak" (sewn gunny
bags), "konn'nnam" (woven coconut tree leaves), side stage
etc. This sight only increased our excitement and made us more
> The advertisers would try and cover all the main roads in the
village in their car and continue to advertise: Tiatro, Tiatro ­
Aiz Rati Tiatro ­ M. Dod de Verna aroplanar bosson ghevn ieta
aplo voznadik tiatro zachem nanv "No Vacancy". Hea tiatran vantto
ghetat nanv voste tiatrist asson tanchea sangata svadik talleachem
bai Platilda ani Bab Aires ani tosoch special don kantaram mhunttolo
sogleanche avddecho, ekdom `fast' kantar korpi, Young Menezes!
Uprant choddfonam zavpak, upkar korun tumcheo tiketti adim fuddench
sugur korat. Ho tiatro zatolo Gaumvaddin, Pornea Tinttear.
> (Tiatro, Tiatro ­ Tiatro tonight ­ M. Dod de Verna arrives
in his airplane with his powerful tiatro titled "No Vacancy". This
tiatro features famous tiatrists along with sweet-voiced Miss
Platilda and Master Aires. Two special songs will be rendered by your
favorite fastest singer, Young Menezes! To avoid disappointment,
please book your tickets in advance. This tiatro will take place at
the Old Market in Gaumvaddy.)
> [In the early 1950's the tiatros in Anjuna were held at the Pornea
Tinttear in a private field where presently Rocky Industries is
located. The venue then shifted behind the New Tintto, just behind
Mablo's hair cutting saloon. Later on, the venue shifted to the
Tembi ground.] After this announcement, they would play another song
on the gramophone. Here are the lyrics of the song "Mogall Mojea
Bhoinnanim" sung by none other than the soft-voiced, late Mohana,
advising girls not to fall prey to men from other communities, as was
the case with some Goan girls in Bombay around the middle of the last
> I
> Bhoinnanim utram dhorat monan
> Cholat sodanch tumi xanneaponnan
> Khuimchoruch vexeat zalear, sodanch ravat sintidan
> Konnancheach poddonakat mogan
> Zaite zann mog korunk sodtat forsan
> Thoddeach tempan soddun vetat mogachi vetokuch ghoddsan
> Chorus
> Mogall mojea bhoinnanim, chintun poieat tumi
> Bhoinnank lagon ghor-dhar soddlam tem kitleam bhavanim
> Maim-pai ani ghoran sogllim, roddtat babddim dukanim
> Kitleo bhoinnim bonvtat amcheo porkeam zati borim
> II
> Respedan cheddvan sodanch ravonk zai
> Thoddeank moga fuddem naka maim vo pai
> Itle Goenche bhav astannam tumkam dusre kiteak zai
> Soddat bhoinnanim noxtti pissai
> Porke zatik kiteak cofiens ditai
> Kazar zav boro novro sodun, nanv pirdear kornakai
> Repeat Chorus
> Cheddvancho maim-pai kaddta fugasanv
> Vochot thuim gazta cheddvanchem nanv
> Zori oxem tumi korxeat zalear, Dev ghaltolo maldisanv
> Tea passot bhoinnanim tumkam sangta hanv
> Chintinakat vosovnk dusreacho ganv
> Borea respedan cholxeat zalear, Dev ghaltolo bhesanv
> Repeat Chorus
> The car would then tour the neighboring villages. For a regular
tiatro also the advertisement was done on the day a tiatro was to be
held. As was the norm, a car would go around advertising the tiatro
and distributing handbills. As children, as soon as we heard the
announcement, we would listen carefully to the sound and begin to
guess which way the car might pass by. Accordingly, we would run and
stand at a junction we thought the car might pass and usually our
guess was correct. As soon as we saw the car approach us, we would
be ready to run after it as if it participating in a relay race. The
guy inside the car would look at us, smile and throw out handbills
and we would run after the car and collect as many handbills as we
possibly could. Obviously, the advertisers knew that we children
would collect the handbills and pass them on to our parents,
neighbors and friends. The handbills were printed on very thin paper
mainly in four colors ­ blue, green, pink red and
> yellow. The moment we collected the handbills, we would sort them
out by colors and then pass them on to whoever asked for them. I
feel proud to write here that reading a tiatro handbill was one of my
first Konkani lessons. As a child, as soon as I received a handbill,
I would attempt to read it and it is those attempts that first taught
me to read my mother tongue!
> One of the best handbills of a tiatro in the 1960's was that of M.
Dod de Verna. The handbill block showed him sitting in an airplane
with a helmet on his head, peeping out from the cockpit.
> In the olden days, a feast meant fun and entertainment - a time for
relatives and friends to get together and make merry. Usually, on a
feast day, at least three meal sittings took place in a large family
­ "poilem jevonn vo poilem mez" (the first sitting or the
table) would begin at around 12:30 p.m.; all children and teenagers
were served at this table.
> "Dusrem jevonn vo dusrem mez" (the second sitting or the second
table) began at around 3:00 p.m. and it was meant for the
guests. "Tisrem jevonn vo tisrem mez" (the third sitting or the
third table) was meant for the home people and the helpers, and it
started at around 4:30 p.m., and sometimes as late as 5:00 p.m.,
depending on how the second sitting/table winded up. At every
sitting/table, there would be singing of Mando/Dulpod/Dekhnni
followed by the "saud" (wish) thus: Viva-re-viva ­
Viva-re-viva ­ viva-viva! Viva, viva marumiea, ghorkarachi saud
korumiea. Viva-re-viva ­ viva-viva! Viva-re-viva ­ viva-
viva! Viva, viva marumiea, ghorkarninchi saud korumiea. Viva-re-viva
­ viva-viva! Viva-re-viva ­ viva-viva! Viva, viva marumiea,
novea novreachi ani oklechi saud korumiea, and the saud would go on
and on! The singers made sure that they covered each and every
person who was present at the sitting/table by praising him/her for
> relationship he/she held or for the role he/she played at the
feast gathering. Each viva meant sipping the kals/glass which would
result in several sips and sometimes a person got zonked at the end
of the lunch and had to retire to bed ­ for him the fest was over
except for the tiatro at night which he wouldn't miss for the world!
> Football has been and still is the game of the Goans. In the olden
days and even today, whenever a village feast took place, a friendly
football match was arranged between village players and outsiders.
Those interested in attending the match on the feast day would make
sure that they lunched with the second sitting/table so they could
attend the festachi football match which mostly began at around 5:00
p.m., depending on the season.
> It is always great fun to watch a football match on a feast day
because most guys just finish their "festachem jevonn" (feast
luncheon) and arrive on the ground with their spirits still soaring
high! Whenever a forward player of the outside team consistently
attempts to score, the public, especially the ones on high spirits,
instruct the home team thus: "AR'RE PANVOM DAMUN GHAL ANI MODD RE
TAKA (Press him hard and break his legs ­ this is not possible
nowadays.) If the host team's forward lacks speed, the public
> (Did you eat too much pork or what? Run you son of a gun!) If a
player shoots wide, they shout at him and say: AR'RE TUJE DOLLE
blind? Where are you shooting, at your mother's husband's?) If the
players commit the same mistake time and again, they shout and
eyes been
covered with fossils, or has pu..c hair grown on your eyes?) If
players let a ball loose or if they miss to shoot in the goal, they
RE! (Where are you shooting, put your legs in the form, you son of a
gun!) Everyone knows that the guys who comment as above are not
alone - that they have a partner with them ­ the liquor, yet
everyone follows them and repeats after them because it is part of
Goan tradition!
> Before the public knows, it is half time with a 15-minute recess.
All of a sudden, people rush to one of the corners of the ground and
gather around two well-built, handsome body builders ready to fight
each other. No, they are not human beings but "dhirieanche padde"
(fighting bulls.) Yes, the "dhirieo" has been one of the
entertainments of the Goan society, especially at village feasts
since ages. Many a times, the second half of a football match had
to be delayed until a "dhiri" was over. Anjuna, Parra, Siolim and
Calangute villages were quite renowned for "dhirieos" then. The bull
owners, who are basically farmers, are always on high spirits.
Sometimes, an argument takes place between the two owners over their
bulls' strength and it looks as though a fight may take place before
they can lead their bulls to fight, but one of their group members
intervenes and brings an end to the situation. In a way, if managers
of two boxers can have a fist fight why not bull owners who
> are also managers in their own way? The only difference here is
that they are not in the ring, and everyone knows that they are under
the intoxication of liquor, but the Goan public does not mind it;
they consider it a personal business; moreover, it's a Goan way of
life. Furthermore, they are in fact doing a favor to the public by
providing them free entertainment, as there is no fee for a bull
fight. However, each one of the parties has his own representative
in the crowd who accepts betting from the public, which brings in
some money; it helps the owners maintain their bulls which require
special food and treat.
> In Goa, everything is based on drinks; no occasion is complete
without liquor; it is a must at every occasion. It is served when a
child is born; at christening; at the first Holy Communion; at the
Holy Confirmation; at birthdays; at a graduation; at weddings and
anniversaries; silver/golden/diamond jubilees; at funerals; at
week's/month's mind mass; at death anniversaries, you name it. A
Goan needs only an excuse to drink ­ he drinks when a person is
born to celebrate his/her birth and he also drinks when he/she is
dead to mourn his/her death. At a litany, liquor is served to adults
and wine to women and children, though recently, some villages have
stopped the service because they have now realized that serving
liquor at a religious ceremony is not appropriate.
> When liquor is served, God's name is always attached to it. In
Goa, when a drink is served, we wish good health to the person and
say: "Dev borem korum!" (Wish you well in the name of God!) What a
way to thank! The well-wisher further adds: "Dhoniam Devan tuka
bori bolaiqi divchi ani sogllim tumchim chintnam xarti pavoumchim".
(May the Almighty Lord grant you good health and may all your wishes
come true.) Each one present then wishes the host thus: "Maglam te
bolaiqen Dev Borem Korum" (I/we wish the host the same [as has been
wished]) or "Somestank Dev Borem Korum" (Wish you all well in the
name of God - an equivalent of `Cheers to all!') By the same token,
anyone who does not serve liquor is wished thus: "Tachem padd
poddoum; ek kals bhor soro divunk taka poth nam. Koslo faido tache
lagim itli girestkai asson? Tache girestkaichem got'ton zanv ani to
amchea poros gorib zanv!" (May he be cursed; he cannot afford to
give one cup of liquor. What is the use of him having
> so much wealth? May he lose all his wealth and become poorer than
us!) I have always admired the Gulfees who are open hearted and
never hesitate to offer a drink to anyone who visits them, including
the laborers/workers who work at their places, and they in turn
shower them with their good wishes and blessings: "Baba, Devachem
bhesanv tumcher!" (May God's blessings be with you)! In Goa,
offering liquor is one of the ways to invite blessings.
> Speaking of the common Goan way of wishing - "Dev Borem Korum" -
here is a song by the same title sung by none other than Goa's
nightingale, Lorna, Wilfy and his wife, Meena and others:
> Legend: Lorna = L; Wilfy = W; Meena = M; Lorna, Wilfy & Others =
> L: Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Hathan glass ghevn mhunniea Dev borem korum
> W: Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> L: Boro, boro, boro kitlo boro pivonk re boro
> Pie-pieta, jiv doloita kaiboro soro
> W: Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> M: Lok mure sangta tum soro pivonu
> Pirdear zatoloi re bhava bebdo zavunu
> Lok mure sangta tum soro pivonu
> Pirdear zatoloi re bhava bebdo zavunu
> W: Sangtam tumkam Canaan ganvan, milagr ghoddonu
> Logna disa loka mukar udok ghevunu
> L: Somia Jezun soro kelo bhesanv ghalunu
> L&W: Somia Jezun soro kelo bhesanv ghalunu
> LW&O: Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> W: Soreacho ek peg to ghetoch add zata tokli
> Gunvta thokon, bhail moji bhion bhitor dhanvli
> Soreacho ek peg to ghetoch add zata tokli
> Gunvta thokon, bhail moji bhion bhitor dhanvli
> Gomoth saiba motti, sangonam hanv fotti
> Ekach faran sarkich bori zata re bolaiqi
> LW&O: Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> M: Bhail hachi ragan mhunntta ravchina ghara
> Padri mhunntta, bongo taka sorgachim daram
> Bhail hachi ragan mhunntta ravchina ghara
> Padri mhunntta, bongo taka sorgachim daram
> W: Sangta tankam sangumdhi, porva korchonam
> Punn mojean ravonk zainam soro pienastannam
> LW&O: Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> Dev borem korum, somestank Dev borem korum
> If you advise a Goan drinker that drinking is bad for his health
and that he should give it up, he immediately defends himself and
says: "Soro Devan kela; padri passun missar dakancho soro pieta.
Tor, hanv pielear tantun kitem vaitt assam?" (God made liquor; even
a priest drinks wine when he celebrates a mass. So, what is wrong if
I drink?)
> At St. John's feast, if there are no drinks, there is no fun! On
that day, people feel very cold due to continuous bathing in the
wells, and exposure in the rainfall; hence, the more one drinks the
less the effect on a person because drinks get neutralized in water.
> In the olden days, the bhattkar sat at home at the table with a
glass in his hand and enjoyed his drinks. He had a schedule to go by
but the poor didn't. The poor man sat on a "xennacho sopo" (a
made of laterite stones and covered with cow dung) or on "xennanche
dot'torer" (cow dung treated floor) and enjoyed his drink, the fenni,
in a coconut shell or "xirancho golas" (an ordinary glass with
vertical lines).
> Drink is a wonderful thing and an entertainment provided one knows
how to make use of it. Goans are a relaxed type of people and like
to enjoy drinking. Of course, I again repeat that there are always
exceptions to the rule, and there is always a black sheep in a
family; we can't help it.
> Drink has to be controlled by the drinker; the moment he/she lets
it to control him/her, that could be the end! Goans in Goa and all
over the world make use of the drink as an entertainment; they know
how to enjoy a drink.
> As soon as they arrive home from work, they go about attending to
household chores. Somewhere between 8:00 & 8:30 p.m., they proceed
to have their bath. Once they are through their bath, they sit in
their sitting room and begin their evening session in the company of
their family members, neighbors or friends. They consume a peg or
two followed by dinner. On weekends and holidays, the daily
rigmarole is forgotten and a little excessive session follows but
they will not touch the bottle until they have had their bath which
goes to prove that liquor is not consumed to get intoxicated but as a
traditional time pass and an entertainment. Goa is the only place
where one can see employees at a bar-n-restaurant having a peg of
liquor or a glass of beer as an appetizer before their lunch during
work days.
> During the Roman Empire, the gluttons ate until they vomited and if
they didn't, they put their fingers in the throat and threw up so
they could eat again. Similarly, we have some people who drink until
they can stand no more and then they vomit. There are always
exceptions to the rule, and it takes all sorts of people to make this
world! Each one of us cannot have the type of people we would like
to have but we can go by the available society, be a part of it and
make the best without hurting anyone. If you scold or insult a
drinker, he will do the opposite and insult you doubly.
> There are various types of addicts in our society. We have to deal
with them with great care and sensitivity and help them improve their
lives through our love and affection ­ not through hatred. It is
only then that they might change their way of life.
> Anything and everything that is done in excess is bad. Even over
exercising is harmful, as the ligaments/tendons get torn due to over
> Savings also is a vice. Some people are so savings conscious that
they neglect their health and opt for wealth. They eat less in order
to save at the cost of their health; they fail to make the best of
their lives while they can and regret later on when time runs out on
> Whenever a restriction has been imposed it has never succeeded; it
only makes matters worse. Until the 1960's, Bombay was a dry area
and we all know what happened there. People began to distill liquor
illegally and they used anything and everything they could lay their
hands on, including dead car batteries, in order to make liquor; the
result: Several people died every now and then, including Goans, not
due to overdrinking, but due to adulterated liquor. No doubt, many
people minted money distilling and selling liquor illegally but at
the same time they transferred many of their customers to the next
world on an exit visa only!
> Unlike Goans in Goa who coolly sit at home and enjoy a drink, the
drinkers in Bombay had to be quick as if snapping something and
running away.
> "Ghoran bhattiek kaddlolo soro" (the home made liquor) was known
as "kontry soro" vo "navsagricho soro"; it was also
commonly known
as "anticho soro" because many women were involved in distilling and
selling the liquor.
> These women were very strong and courageous, as they had to deal
with different types of customers ­ good, bad and rough types.
If anyone tried to act smart, aunty would say: "Ar're xannponnam
bond kor ani uguich ghora voch, nam zalear kaddun ek kanpod'dear
ditelim!" (Hey, stop your smartness and go away quietly otherwise I
will give one slap on your eardrums!) Most of the guys listened to
her and went away; if anyone didn't, she would slap him and then the
bodyguard would show him the door in his own way. Each main place
like Dhobitalao, which is considered as the second home of Goans in
Bombay, Chandanwaddi, etc., had a "Dada" (leader) who was in charge
of the area and controlled the outlets selling illegal liquor. He
also took care of the "hapta" (bribe) payment to the police and any
other problems, including fights that took place in his area.
> Overall, we had some of the best palm and cashew fenni in Goa until
the 1950's, but gradually the quality went down, especially post-
liberation when people from Bombay introduced the navsagar in Goa,
which they now mix in the fenni resulting in adulterated liquor.
> In Bombay, as soon as people finished their daily duty, they
proceeded to go home. On their way home, they would enter "anticho
joint" and say to her:
> "Aunty, ghal ghe ek pav-xer." (Aunty, pour me a quarter pint.)
She would pour in a glass and say to him: "Vegim ghontt mar ani futt
> (Gulp it down soon and disappear from here). Her rude behavior
reminds me of an old colloquial saying: "Khanvchem-jevchem ghovachem
ani ghevchem minddachem) which roughly translated means that a wife
though supported by her husband is controlled by her lover. He would
gulp it down as if drinking water but the way he made faces it looked
as though he was taking Epsom Salt or consuming poison. Freshly made
pickle was kept in a plate on a stool by the exit door; he would
pinch a little pickle, place it in his mouth and walk away.
> Those who dealt with liquor did not have a peaceful life. Police
would raid them every now and then. There were three types of raids -
genuine raids conducted by government authorities or police; semi-
genuine raids conducted by the police for not paying the "hapta", and
other raids which were directed by competitors out of vengence; the
result: Both the distiller and the customer would end up in jail.
The people who were most affected due to liquor restriction in Bombay
were Goans. Here I remember some lines of a song by the late Kid
Boxer which goes thus:
> Marinakai mar bhaleanim
> Noxib amchem khal'lam zorleanim
> Soro bond kela mhunnon
> Tondd kaem kelam cholea-cholianim
> Bombaim tum amkam mevtai golyanim
> However, the following song by the late Minguel Rod, the genius of
the Konkani Stage, who composed classic songs based on his personal
experiences, will always remain one of the jewels for generations to
come. Here are the lyrics of his famous song "PETROL CHOLTA" which
talks about the alcohol restriction in Bombay:
> I
> Goenkarancher Saiba, tum ragar zaloi khoro
> Tuvem khast amkam laili gha, amcho sukon zala paro
> Goeam aslelea lokak tum ekdom asai boro
> Dekun tankam tum ditai pondra rupia kovso soro
> Chorus
> Bomboi asleleanche tuvem motte bhognnar kele
> Ani Goeam aslele edov porian xekovn nidonk gele
> Aikon Goenchi khobor, amchea pottan dont mele
> Inga chorieam irlem ami martale, tuvem tenkaim dhorun vele
> II
> Pondra rupian passun Saiba, quarter kor amkam favo
> Tum Goeam asleleancho fuim khuimcheanui bizoitai tavo
> Soro athin dortoch ami, kitkim magnnim tuka favo
> Ami khuimche te tum zannaim, to amkam voita tinga zavo
> Chorus
> To astoch sangatak ami kaibore dolta
> Ani kai borem bailanchem aikon ghora ievun maimkui pett ghalta
> Inglez Saiba naka, tem rokddench gunvddu halta
> Amchem machine ekdom ghott Saiba, kontri petrol cholta
> Anik ek voros tum osoch, Mumboikarancher chavot
> Ani urpache ami nam gha Saiba, atanch geleanv bavot
> Tem vokot nastannam Saiba, Konknnem kitkoi teomp ravot
> Punn Goenkar muineank ponsam voir jerul Mahalaximi pavot
> Chorus
> Soglleanche pavttin magtam, Saiba aikon mojem dhor
> Orixtt ruk umtton poddta tujem ek utor mhunnot tor
> Zainam Saiba sonsunk, bhitor zoieank ieta zor
> Konnem bond kelam tem der Saiba, tum vegin ugttem kor
> Goa is the only place in India where a visiting guest is offered
tea/coffee until about 12:00 p.m., after which it's time for a
drink. Goans in general are quite particular about drinking time.
Usually, they don't start to drink before 12:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.
which session sometimes lasts through the midnight. They know how to
drink. The first drink is taken very slowly; it may sometimes take
half an hour; it is known as a `settling period.' The second drink
is quicker than the first one and so is the third one. A good
drinker enjoys his drink in good company and discusses healthy
topics; he generally knows how and when to draw a line and avoid
untoward arguments/incidents. He also keeps himself sane by being
aware that he is drinking. If he forgets, he gets lost and could
drop dead. His simple philosophy "why should I spend money and allow
others to make a mockery of myself" keeps him alert and helps him
keep himself under control.
> Goa was and is still notable for its low liquor prices due to low
excise duty on alcohol. Soon after liberation, Goa was the cheapest
State to buy liquor in the whole of India but gradually the taxes
were increased and now the liquor has become quite expensive. One of
the reasons for the increase of tourists in Goa is the availability
of cheap liquor. Nowhere in India there are as many bars as there in
Goa; they are at every hop-step-jump!
> Usually, Goenkars always keep stock of liquor at home. No wonder
they say:
> "Goenkaranchea ghoran anik kiteim unnem assot punn nhoi soro!" (A
Goan's household may have any other shortage but not liquor!)
However poor a person may be, whenever a guest arrives at his place,
he serves him a drink. If he runs short of liquor, he slowly exits
from the hind door, without guest's knowledge, brings in a pint of
whatever liquor he can afford and serves it to him. Goans just
cannot do without serving liquor - it is part of our tradition and
> We all know by now that our beautiful Goa has been declared a 365-
day tourist destination. One of the factors that attract tourists in
Goa is the availability of liquor. You take away the liquor and we
might as well kiss goodbye to tourism. Nobody wants to visit a place
that has too many restrictions. The foreigners are used to a free
life and they would like to have more or less the same freedom
wherever they go, and Goa is one such place which gives them just
that. Even businessmen like to relax after a hard day's work or
celebrate a deal with a drink in their hands. If they can't do that,
why should they spend money and come to that place? I have known and
met many foreigners who just appreciate our hospitality and they
particularly praise Goans for their drinking habit which they say
conforms with theirs; hence, they feel at home when in Goa.
> Goans who live in Bombay or abroad return to their homes in Goa
during the summer so that they can eat various seasonal fruits and
enjoy Goan specialties like pork sausages and drink cashew fenni and
urrak. They wait for a whole year in order to be in Goa to make the
best of their trip - their main entertainment being consumption of
> The palm fenni is cool and is a summer drink; it's just like gin;
whereas, cashew fenni is hot and is supposed to be had during cool
season, especially during the monsoon. If you get drenched in the
rain and if you take a kals of caju fenni as soon as you enter your
home, it will immediately produce heat in your body and make you feel
warm. By the same token, if consumed in excess in the summer it
creates too much heat in your body and makes you sweat profusely; the
odor is so strong that even your clothes smell of cashew fenni.
> Many people have stage fright. So, in order to overcome the
fright, a peg of fenni was suggested which would immediately provide
the person with the necessary courage and it would do the trick.
Similarly, drink is always served at weddings in Goa. It is mainly
served as an entertainment. Here again, anyone who feels shy to pick
up a partner for a dance, takes a shot of the drink and it gives him
the courage which helps him approach a girl/woman to ask for a dance
and within no time he is seen dancing on the floor!
> In the olden days, in case of low pressure, Goan doctors prescribed
half a peg or a peg of cashew fenni and the pressure would build up
and become normal within a couple of days. The local drinks were
also used as medicine for several minor illnesses ­ griping in
the stomach, first aid, etc.
> In the 1950's and 1960's, the laborers in Goa made it a sort of
rule to give them 4-anna "resanv" (tip) at the end of a day's
Those who were habituated to drink asked for liquor; most people
> Most elderly people I had known during my childhood died in their
late eighties or nineties and some even crossed 100 years! Almost
all of them drank liquor plus smoked locally made cigars
called "pamparo." The secret of their drinking was that they knew
how to control their drinks. They never indulged in over drinking
except at main feasts like the patron, St. Michael's feast, Our Lady
of Advocate's feast and St. John's feast.
> Moreover, they never failed to eat after consuming liquor. They
ate plain but pure, home-produced food ­ fish-curry-rice and
vegetables and meat.
> Some of the people who crossed 100 years in recent times were bold
enough to tell the world that a glass of wine was the secret of their
> In Goa, our women also drink. Just like men, they too began to
drink from their early farming days when they worked in the fields,
and the pattern was followed by the later generations. The only
difference then and now is that then they drank at home after a hard
day's work and now they drink in public for fun and entertainment.
> Let us see what our late Minguel Rod has to say about women
drinking in those days through his following song:
> I
> Ho sonvsaruch khuim bebdo zala
> Pivon kitko lokuch mela
> Kiteak gha saiba ho soro kela
> Atam bailoi pietat tara-la-la-la
> Chorus
> Hi konnen koi
> Bailancho guneanv nhoi
> Gadie pattlean burak oi
> To kiteak saiba poi
> II
> Ami bebde mhunn saiba bukar boroi
> Bailancher tea nodor firoi
> Voir than irlemxem ximit aroi
> Tea gadieanche burak saiba tunch gha puroi
> Chorus
> Nam bailo borem life
> Ani ghovank passun khait
> Dukonkaram lagim kor gha fight
> Punn bebdeank korxi vaitt
> Cheddvam dansak nam re unnim
> Tankam tambddo zavo khuimcho punnim
> Rong ghalun dhi cholta fenni
> Magir nachta dista mazram-sunnim
> Chorus
> Thoddim khonkli kaddta khonk
> Thoddim vonk, vonk, vonk
> Ghora ievunk zainam pivon tonk
> Magir zaem motor ponk
> Each one of us has our own problems but not all of us are in a
position to solve them. Most of us manage to solve our
difficulties/problems in consultation with our relatives and/or
friends and are able to fall back on track. As the good old saying
goes "sogllinch bottam ek sarkim nhoi" (all fingers are not alike).
Similarly, there are some who do not wish to approach anyone for
help; if approached, they do not follow the given advice; instead,
they choose other methods, including drinking, which may temporarily
solve their problem(s) and bring them relief but it in fact makes the
matter(s) worse and damages their health. Hitting a bottle is not a
> No one is born a criminal or a drunkard in his/her mother's womb;
it is the circumstances that make us so. Our society is also partly
responsible for the ill-effects. In the olden days, superstition
played a vital role in peoples' lives. Practically everything was
carried out based on superstition ­ even a wrong step while
stepping out of the house was blamed for the failure on that day.
One of the superstitions that prevailed then was that a "tiklem" (a
third girl born after three boys) was unlucky and therefore unfit to
become a housewife, as she would bring bad luck and misfortune on the
family. The lyrics of the following song sung by the queen of the
Goan stage, Antonette Mendes, talk about a girl's life that has been
affected and destroyed due to the superstition resulting in her being
a "bebdem" (drunkard):
> I
> Bebdem ­ Lok mhaka mhunntta bebdem
> Eklem ­ Jivit koxem sarum eklem
> Foslem ­ Hea jivitan hanv foslem
> Poi noxib mojem koslem - zolman tiklem
> Chorus
> Tegam novreanim, mandlam mhunn sangon mhaka soddlam
> Eklean utrachi mudi ghalun utor moddlam
> Hem odruxtt moje thaim koxem ghoddlam, kiteak Dhoniam mhaka Tuvem
> Kosloch guneanv mozo nastannam - mojer khoth poddlam
> II
> Ravlim ­ Kitlo teomp axeon ravlim
> Khevlim ­ Gupit chintnanim khevlim
> Mavlim ­ Sobit fulam matheak mavlim
> Punn pormoll dinastannam - fulam bavlim
> Chorus
> Mojer somazan acharacho xik'ko marla
> Nastannam karann, jiu ho mozo lojen poddla
> He battle porim jiv ho mozo, dukhachea sorean re bhorla
> Tacho ek-ek gontt hanv pivon - irloch urla
> Mevonam ­ Sodanch sukh tem mevonam
> Ravonam ­ Dukh ailea bogor ravonam
> Favonam ­ Achar te mandunk favonam
> Sottve rati boroilam tem - ghoddlea bogor ravonam
> Chorus
> Mandlea tea novrea, ek dis tum kazar zatolo
> Magnneanim mojea, dovlot tumger Dev ditolo
> Tea tiklea lagim kazar zavnk nam, borem zalem oxem tum chintolo
> Punn tumger tiklem cheddum zalear - ugddas ietolo
> Mhaka soddla tea novrea, ek dis tum kazar zatolo
> Magnneanim mojea, dovlot tumger Dev ditolo
> Tea tiklea lagim kazar zavnk nam, borem zalem oxem tum chintolo
> Punn tumger tiklem cheddum zalear - ugddas ietolo
> Ugddas ietolo
> Ugddas ietolo
> A male family member in the past was the sole bread winner. A
wife's duty was to cook and look after the children and home; she had
no right to say a word to her husband, leave aside advice; there was
hardly any communication between the two. As a result, if a person
drank excessively, there was no one to advise him; he continued with
his habit and succumbed to his vice!
> It is said "every coin has its advantage as well as
and "soro" is not an exception. For that matter, every vice is bad.
However, they say gambling is one of the worst vices a person can
have because a gambler when he starts to lose money, pawns everything
that he owns including his house and sometimes he even sells his wife
for the vice. But a drinker can drink only as much as he can stand;
if he exceeds his limit, his fuse trips and he collapses unless he
willingly takes an overdose to finish himself. Very few people in
the past died from heavy drinking in Goa as opposed to drugs which
nowadays play a much more dangerous part in our youth's lives and
take a heavier death toll than drinks.
> Every action follows reaction and every disease has a cure (except
cancer and AIDS, thus far!) Similarly, it is said that "precaution
is better than cure". So, here are the lyrics of a valuable song by
one of the most respected singers, S. Lemos, titled "Poilo Gontt
Vattai" (Avoid the first sip):
> I
> Zanv to kazari, zanv to zuzari, put to hea desacho
> Okondd dadleaponn, lokondd padriponn, kaido hea bhesacho
> Soimb divun tuka munxeachem, Devan rochla rogta-masacho
> Num to domdomit, num to pormollit, kherit vasacho
> Chorus
> Nesta to jetan, cholta to nettan, khuim veta zait gai danvon
> Voddkilear tuvem, tondd korta kaem, pollenam to pattim vollon
> Ravtam hanv taka, mevtolo mhaka, ieotolo ravon nam pavon
> Gelolo dhovo, ietannam kavo, khuim than aila lovon
> II
> Zala to nennar, xikpan to zannar, advogad to boro
> Korti aloita, morti paloita, vakandd taka khoro
> Vibaddta to jivit tujem, itlean ixtta taka kor poro
> Aik nirop mozo, dusman to tuzo, konn to ­ toch to soro
> Chorus
> Munis tum boro, pietoch soro, uloitai kitench pinga-ping
> Bhurge dakttule, fulovn pakttule, mhunttat tuka bebdeancho King
> Kestavam suru, pietai dharu, kansular poddta dinga-ding
> Magir davompui zainam, povopui zainam, rostear korta dancing
> Chinta tum sabar, mot korun kabar, soro divpak soddun
> Pietai quarter, mix korun water, ghara lagim haddun
> Pietoch gontt tea soreacho, boll tujem uddoita moddun
> Magir jivak zata hai, anik-anik zai, barran vorta voddun
> Chorus
> Zaite zann nokot, aikat hem vokot, noxttea soreacher zoit voronk
> Poilo gontt tum pienaka ixtta kobul passun za moronk
> Jivit zalem padd, vaddovn bonvta khadd, koslo faido tuzo uron
> Ekuch ho upai, poilo gontt vattai, fulanim jivit bhoronk
> Ekuch ho upai, poilo gontt vattai, fulanim jivit bhoronk
> Ekuch ho upai, poilo gontt vattai, fulanim jivit bhoronk
> This article is neither to patronize nor to promote drinking, which
is hazardous to one's health, but to highlight the fact that drinking
has been and still is part of Goan entertainment, tradition and
culture, and that it is one of the factors that makes Goans different
from the other peoples and cultures in India.
> That's all for now from Dom's antique shelf!
> Moi-mogan,
> Domnic Fernandes
> Anjuna/Dhahran, KSA jyodom@...
> - All pictures except
the 'Monitor Lizard' and the writer's picture are from Fausto V. Da
Costa's publication "Tiatr & Tiatrists" - Volume 1
as archived by special arrangements of Gaspar Almeida and www.goa-

This first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-newsletter is dedicated to
Goans around the Globe. Team, moderated by
Almeida Gaspar since 1994 and presented by Ulysses Menezes, owner of website.
Fri Oct 31, 2008

No comments:

Post a Comment



Blog Archive


About Me

My photo
A big e-welcome to you. Tumcam Maie-mogacho ieukar. Enjoy Life - This is not a rehearsal! Konkani uloi, boroi, vach ani samball - sodankal. Hich Goenchi osmitai ani amchem khalxelponn. Goenchi amchi Konkani bhas! Ekvottachem saddon Goenkaranchem. This is Gaspar Almeida from Parra, Bardez, Goa, based in Kuwait and am connected with the website created by Ulysses Menezes, and as Moderator of the famous first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994) and The Goan Forum and several Goan and Indian associations and forums and e-forums in Goa, India, Kuwait, The Middle East and worldwide.