The Goan song of love

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

The Mando, based on the traditional dulpod of folk music, evolved in Goa during the latter part of the nineteenth century into an art song with Western and Indian traits in its melodic texture. Its themes invariably centre on love or personal tragedy, or on profound historical and social events.

In the words of Dr Jose Pereira and the late Prof Michael Martins, the mando is the finest of Goa’s cultural creations and a synthesis of the manifold types of Goan song. Indeed, among the musical creations of Goans, the mando stands out supreme and in a class apart, as it represents the highest poetical-musical expression of creativity of the Goan musical genius. The late Prof Lucio Rodrigues, another great exponent of the mando, captures well its beauty and grandeur and rightly hails the mando as the “love song of the people of Goa” and “the Goan’s masterpiece of poetry, music and dance.”

The mando, generally sung in two contrapuntal voices, bears in its melodic form traces of Latin or Italian Church music and the plaintive minor mode of the Portuguese fado. However, it differs from the fado in that it partakes of the rhythmic and melodic subtleties that characterise Indian secular music.

The first person from Saligao to cut a gramophone record of a mando was Champion Alvares. His mando was sung at most of the weddings in the village. The chorus goes thus:

Estimacao Rozachem

Roza mhojea mogachem

Kazar zaunk lisens na go Papachem

Later on, Jose Cordeiro’s “Saligaocho Sad” took part in mando festivals organised by Clube Nacional, Konkani Bhasha Mandal and the Goa Cultural and Social Centre. This Saligaocho Sad consisted of singers and musicians mainly from Saligao. It maintained a very high standard of singing, and the accompanying musicians were of a very high standard too. Regrettably, this mando tradition dwindled over the years, and Saligao no longer features prominently in the mando festivals of today. This is rather unfortunate, as there still is sufficient talent in the village that can participate in the mando festivals and win new laurels for the village. One can only hope that someone takes the initiative to organise this talent into a group sometime soon that will rivive the tradition of mando singing in Saligao.

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