Celebrating the spirit of GoaCelebrating the spirit of Goa

No trousers, no shoes. Yet Marius Fernandes is an extraordinary man, in his trademark shorts, a shirt and a pair of sandals, no matter the occasion, no matter where he goes and who he meets in the red soil of Goa. He does not attend weddings, funerals or any other functions. But he is a rock star as far as the socio-cultural circuit of the Goan community is concerned. Having lived in three continents, the minimalist has embarked on celebrating and popularising age-old Goan cultural festivals.

On August 15, I bumped into him at quintessential village square at Socorro village, near Mapusa. He had put a small note on Facebook, inviting one and all to celebrate the Goan unique Patoienchem (coconut-stuffed steamed pancakes) fest on the occasion of Independence Day and feast of the Our Lady of Assumption of Catholics. Not only that it was a nod to the Goan ghumotachem (earthen musical instrument), Konkani and World Goan Day, all rolled into one mega festival.

Outside the green premises of Socorro Church, hundreds of visitors binged on mouth-watering local delicacies such as patoleos, puddle, sannas and fish curry rice and vonn. In the heart of the church the world’s largest ghumot and mandalem stood out as an attempt at the world’s record for the largest earthen musical instruments. Akshay Chari of Goa Art College built the two instruments using fibre and mud encased with the sheep skin. Over 200 ghumots displayed for sale at noon were sold out within half an hour and I was lucky to buy one for posterity.

“I want to revive the dying Goan ancient art and music and traditions and culture,” says Mario, as he is fondly called. The London returned and picturesque Divar island-based crusader is organising a series of traditional Goan fests and uniting thousands of young and old to preserve and promote ancient Goan culture.

Elvis Gomes, former director of Goa Tourism, Victor Hugo Gomes, curator of Goa Chitra Museum, Deepak Lobo, writer and filmmaker, Vijay D’Souza, editor, Prajal Sakardande, historian and other eminent Goans attended the event. The best thing I love about Mario is that at these events there are no chief guests, no alcohol, but only the community at the centre stage. Viva Goa.