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By the waters of the Aquem spring

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Not far beyond, a spring flows

And it is there I oftimes go

To see reflected in the stream

The beauty of this placid scene

In the north Goa village of Saligao, there are two beautiful natural springs. One is the Salmona spring in Arrarim and the other is the Aquem (Akhem) spring or fountain in Mollembhatt. The water of these springs is sweet and fresh, not brackish. The Aquem spring–referred to in Konkani as Akhenchi Zhor–is well known, even in the neighbouring villages of Nagoa, Parra, Guirim and Sangolda. This natural spring emerges from hard and compact rocks and the villagers bathe in its waters with a strong belief that the spring has medicinal properties. Indeed, legend has it that the spring waters have cured people with poor eyesight and certain skin ailments.

The Saligao natural springs find mention in the historical book Bosquejo Historico das Communidades das Aldeias dos Concelhos das Ilhas, Salcete e Bardez written by Filipe Nery Xavier and published back in 1852. It’s quite likely that the Aquem fountain was built and maintained by the Comunidade de Saligao over a couple hundred years ago, as this book seems to suggest.

However, in more recent times, it was periodically cleaned by Fr Jose Francisco dos Remedios from Tabravaddo, who frequently bathed in the natural spring during the summer holidays. He always returned home with a kouso full of fresh spring water. As youngsters we sometimes accompanied him to the spring and he would relate to us stories about its medicinal properties and efficacy in curing skin diseases. Over the years, others, such as Bernardo da Cunha and Lucas Remedios, have put in efforts to keep the Aquem fountain clean, for the bathers and also for the cattle that drink from the flowing waters downstream.

During the monsoons, the foliage around the Aquem zhor was lush green and the flow of the water with medicinal properties was strong. The reservoir soon filled up and overflowed. Youngsters used the reservoir as a swimming pool, diving in and frolicking in the water, while at the same time being informally taught how to swim by older siblings and friends.

Activities, they say, rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit. Without the burdens and stresses of adult life on our heads as yet, we children spent more time enjoying the fun side of life. The Aquem zhor provided social, cultural and recreational opportunities to us, though it seemed to be just a simple picnic spot. Those who came to bathe in its waters emerged more athletic and, literally, had more spring in each step. Everyone around enjoyed nature’s bounteous beauty with enthusiasm and camaraderie.

As a youngster some of my best moments were at the this famous Goan natural spring and I still cherish those memories with nostalgia. By the waters of the Aquem spring we learned some of the best mandos and dulpods. One of them is Pormollit Saligao, composed by the village bard, C M Coelho, a well-known composer in Goa. The lyrics are as follows:

Saligao Sobit(u) amcho gaum,

Soglea Goeant fankarlam tachem nanv

Chorus:

Pormollit Saligaum,

Bhagim porim amcho gaum,

Porzollit sodanch zaum

Mae-desh Saligao

Dulpod:

1. Amcho Santulo Geunu Panttulo Fulam Punzaitalo (2)

2. Amchea Vaddeant Mollembhattant, Fullam Ful’leant Molleant (2).

During the holidays in April and May, the day would end with a game of biani (cashew seeds). Each player would contribute seeds in pairs. The playing arena was a flat spot a little below the spring. My friend Afonso D’Souza from Tabravaddo had the best aim with his special botto and he would win most of the seeds from all of us every evening.

Reminiscing about the Aquem natural spring brings back a lot of happy memories. Recently I paid a visit to the area and was dumbfounded to discover that a whole new ward of Saligao, called Akhem-Mollembhatt, had come up around the place. There are around 60 houses in the locality. Not very far is a nightclub and discotheque, in addition to a poultry farm and a bakery. And to think that just a few decades ago there was nothing else around to mar the natural beauty and tranquillity around our much-loved Aquem spring in Saligao. Oh, how time changes everything!

1 comment on By the waters of the Aquem spring

  • Anand naik

    I love my village saligao and both the springs.In my school life(primary gvt school-owla)teacher were taking us to these places and teach us about enviuroment studies. I remember, I plant sampling of jackfruit at akem spring at that time.Now it grown as big tree and belongs to discothac.Peoples greed has stolen our wealth and nature beuty,which was kept by our ansestor.I Appriciate and support those people who come forwad and save these nature beuty of saligao.

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