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A trousseau for the bride

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

In bygone days most weddings in Saligao and the northern parts of Goa were preceded by an elaborate ceremony that went by the name saddo.

During the traditional Goan wedding custom of saddo, there is the ceremonial cutting of the cloth that will be used to stitch the dress to be worn by the bride in the house on the wedding day. This cloth is usually pink or red, with a flowery design, and the dress to be made, also itself known as a saddo, is a variant of the traditional Indian sari. While in many parts of Goa the saddo is simply presented to the bride by a maternal uncle, in Saligao and other villages of north Goa the proceedings are more intricate.

Wedding

The tailor hired for the occasion sits on a mat on the floor. From the cloth, two tiny strips are cut, lengthways. These are then placed one over the other to form a cross, next to a small statue of the Infant Jesus, also kept on the mat nearby. To begin with, there is the noman, in which the blessings of God Almighty, and also, in Saligao, especially of Mae de Deus are invoked. This is done in the form of a zot-a special song peculiar to the occasion-sung by an expert songstress, preferably a professional, if one is available.

Then each relative, starting with the closest, walks up to the statue and makes a small offering of money, while the others make some specific metaphorical statement about that person, in the form of zotis. Then pudde are served in Christian homes while Hindu families serve paan supari (a piece of betelnut wrapped in a leaf dabbed with calcined lime). Sweets are distributed to all present, the elders are offered some form of alcohol, the children sip soft drinks, and a fun time is had by all, like with most Goan customs and traditions.

The money collected is given to the tailor, in addition to his negotiated wage. He will later stitch the white wedding gown for the bride, the saddo and other necessary garments for the close relatives, bridesmaids, flower girls, etc. All the garments will at a later date be displayed in the bride’s house to be admired by special guests and then sent to the groom’s house for a similar display before the Goan wedding.

Of course, such intricate and elaborate ceremonies during Goan weddings are a thing of the past. While some families do hold an abbreviated ceremony in obeisance to tradition, it’s rarely done with the same aplomb and grandeur of old Goan customs. Quite a pity, really, that progress and modernisation are gradually dispatching all our old Goan customs to the history books.

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