What are Goa’s villages famous for?

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

While tourists visiting Goa are familiar only with the beaches and famous places of worship, local Goans will tell you that many villages of Goa are renowned for a particular produce or commodity.

As we sat one May evening on the parapet of the Saligao church compound, a few of us began to enumerate the Goan villages of our region (Bardez) and what they produced or what they were famous for. Albino D’Souza from Saligao’s Nigvaddo ward said that Moira was famous for bananas. Parra was famous in Goa for watermelons, asserted Justino Fernandes from Grande Morodd. From Cotula was Dominic Andrade, who showed his appreciation for curry and stated that Aldona was noteworthy for its chilies.

Moira bananas are famous in Goa

Moira bananas are famous in Goa

Salvador Mascarenhas from Mudd’davaddi remarked that Goan village Sangolda was known for its variety of beans. Pomburpa was famous for its fountain, recalled Luis Domingo Dias from Cotula. Duarte Fernandes from Donvaddo showed his inclination towards Mapuça, well known throughout Goa for its weekly Friday market. Adolph Mendonça from Cotula simply said that Nerul was known for its groundnuts and sweet potatoes. Alfred Fonseca, settled in Arrarim, striking his chest proudly declared that his village Assagao was famous for its flowers. Paulito Fernandes from Mudd’davaddi, with a smile on his face, quipped that Calangute is noted for its beach. Feliciano D’Souza from Arrarim, showing his love for Goan village Candolim, remarked that it is famous in Goa for its salted fish. Bernardo da Cunha from Mollembhat spoke about Calvim and said it was known for its crabs. In one voice we ended the list of village names with “Saligao amcho ganv,” renowned in days gone by for sugarcane and belios (a type of candy made from sugarcane juice).

But one among us had remained quiet so far. He was our choir master Eustaquino D’Souza from Pequeno Morodd, who now added that Pilerne and Goan village Arpora were famous in Goa for salt and that without salt our staple food of rice and curry would be tasteless. As we carried on our discussions enthusiastically, a stately gentleman whom none of us knew approached us. He said that he was a ganvkar of Saligao belonging to the 9th vangodd and that he had come to Saligao to register his name at the Saligao Comunidade Ghor to collect zonn (dividend) and pay his respects to the patroness of the Saligao church, Mãe de Deus. We welcomed him among us as one of our elder ganv-bhav (fellow villager).

Seeing that we were interested  in the affairs of the Bardez villages, Professor Eduardo de Sousa – for that was his name – said that he would relate to us a couple of stories. We sat in silence, eager to listen to what he had to say.

One of the first Hindus, the learned professor said, that converted to Christianity in the sixteenth century, was from our neighbouring village of Pilerne. His Hindu name was Mangapa Sinai or Bhau Sinai. He was a Narcornim de Camara Geral de Bardez (Notary of the Municipality of Bardez). He came to Pilerne from Cortalim. He had come to Goa along with his brother and uncle Balxa or Balkrishna Sinai from northern India. Mangapa was baptised and given the name of Pero Ribeiro by the Franciscan Observants (OFM) who were made in charge of the Christianisation of the people of the Province of Bardez. They began their evangelization from 1555 beginning from Verém. Pero Ribeiro offered his stables for the horses of Adil Khan to stay in Pilerne. He was also given the property Pattambhatt or Pasambhatt. A rivulet at Pilerne is called ‘Rio dos Ribeiros’ which irrigates the fields of Pilerne. One of the Ribeiro descendants went from Pilerne to Nagoa de Bardez and later settled himself in Saligao at Vhoddlem Morodd. His descendant is the late José Ribeiro, whose sons are Tom and Savio Ribeiro. The uncle Balkrishna Sinai was baptised and given the surname Cunha and a property in Arpora.  He is the ascendant of José Gerson da Cunha, the famous author of The Konkani Language and Literature published in Bombay in 1881. We accepted the Professor’s story without any questions or interruptions.

Saligaokars are proud to be referred as kole (foxes), Prof Sousa went on to say. He narrated another story to showcase the shrewdness of the Saligaokar. Once upon a time there was a Saligaokar who owned a leather shop, selling all kinds of items made from leather, including   shoes. When he went abroad he came across a wholesaler of shoes, with a wide range of shoes going very cheap. He bought dozens of them. To avoid customs duty he mailed them in two separate consignments, one containing shoes for the right-leg only, and the other for the left. When the parcels reached Panjim, they were not claimed. After some time they were auctioned. None of the shoe merchants present bargained, because they thought they were useless. The shrewd Saligaokar bought the parcels for a song, through one of his friends, deceiving the customs officers by his cleverness. Whether this story is true or not is of course anyone’s guess!

Though we wanted to hear more stories related to our village, Professor Eduardo had to leave, and we too departed from the scene. Memories linger on in our minds of those old days in our beloved and “porzolit [shining] Saligao”. One can only hope that the present and future generations preserve the sheen of the Goan village of the past.

8 comments on What are Goa’s villages famous for?

  • Annette D'Souza

    Fr. Nasciment, Thanks! What a mine of information you are! – enjoyed all the anecdotes! gained knowledge about the other villages being famous for various things & was reminded of the salt piles seen in Pilerne on our way to Betim, whilst travelling by bus…also remember buying the belios from Arrarim or from the chap who used to pass by our house in the 1960′s. I havent tasted belios in years…

    The “snake guy” of those times died eh? Guess a risky job! But I remember our neighbour the late Shiri dealing with snakes etc. I also remember Atmaram being called to A.Reggie Carneiro’s garden to kill a long snake with sort of diamond patterns on it – dont know the name of the same but was told that if bitten by such snake, one’s flesh got rotten.

    And of course I still remember Miku but didnt know his entire story…he used to get behind our house to catch the frogs in the well there whilst we watched.

    Those were the days!

  • fr.nascimento mascarenhas

    Dear Annette,
    Thanks for your lovely comments I am glad that the past events on the saligaosernade brought back to you happiness . That is one of our aim. A big part on this blog is played by Val( Mumbai) and Mel( Canada). Val’s editing and sketches by Mel make the blog interesting and add nostalgic moments . My regards and prayers to you, Luvell and Ashley
    A happy Christmas and prosperous New Year 2011 to you and yours
    fr. nascimento mascarenhas

  • FN

    Nice one! I circulated it via Goanet Reader (reaching approx 14,000) with due credit to you…

  • fr.nascimento mascarenhas

    Dear frederick,
    You are doing a commendable job of encouraging youngsters to write During our young days at Saligao we had a lovely group where we discussed such issues like our folklore, customs, men and matters etc Thanks for circulating the article via Goanet readers. Please keep in touch.

  • Mervyn Maciel

    I’m afraid I’m not a Saligaokar, but I must say how much I enjoyed your
    article. It should be required reading for all Goan youth, not just in Goa!
    But for the likes of you, most of the stories of our past, our customs,
    folklore etc will be lost for posterity. Thanks for preserving this important
    slice of our history.
    BTW, I’m from Salvador-do-Mundo(Saloikar)

  • Joel

    Dear Fr Nacimento,
    Thanks for the mention of Assagao in your interesting article.
    “Alfred Fonseca, settled in Arrarim, striking his chest proudly declared that his village Assagao was famous for its flowers.” Was he Fr Alfred Fonseca? Assagao was famous for “fulkaram” and “abolim” around 30 years ago. Save for a tiny board erected by the local panchayat calling Assagao “Valley of Flowers” there is hardly anything else that would remind us of that aspect now. However, none can forget Mons Dalgado, the most prominent son of Assagao, and his rich contribution to Konkani language, literature, etc. Fr Moreno would always say, “Tum Dalgadachea ganvcho nhoi?” We have a road named after Mons Dalgado in Assagao since the last few years. The Dalgado Konknni Akademi is doing a marvellous job. I am inciting you… Cheers.

  • nascimento mascarenhas

    Dear Joel,
    Thank you very much for your comments
    Alfred Fonseca from Assagao was my companion at Mater Dei Institution till SSC ( 1956-57 batch). He was residing at Arrarim de Saligao during our school days. When I joined the Seminary I lost all contact with him. He was one of the first class student of our batch, but occupied the last bench in class. We used to call the chaps occupying the last bench, L L B.s meaning Lords of the Last Bench. One of the lords from Calangute, also my companion, who was in correspondence with Alfred Fonseca informed me that he bacame a lawyer and was practising in Gujarat and was very good at his profession. But for Alfred Assagäo meant ” Fulancho Ganv” and he took great pride saying so. I simply remembered him when I was writing that essay . Joel more power to your pen ! Much love, fr. nascimento mascarenhas

  • milita

    saligao serenade!!!!! super amzing things you got for us…highly amazed to go tru ol da articles and essays! enjoyed truly and felt a sense of being in goa. missing goa :( nd miss evry thng abt it…tiatre,cusine,ferry,bitshows,sunday mass,lovely goinkaran. hate being away and not enjoyn der.
    cheerz to goa :)
    viva la goa
    mwaah n luv yu goa

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