If you’ve visited the vibrant capital city of Goa, Panjim, you are bound to visit places like Fontainhas, the Immaculate Conception Church square, or even Miramar beach and Dona Paula. Campal doesn’t feature on any tourist map. But, hundreds flocked to the quiet neighbourhood to learn, indulge, and get inspired at the Goa Heritage Festival held recently.
After the success of the Fontainhas Arts Festival, more than a decade ago, the organisers, the Goa Heritage Action Group celebrated the diverse cultural legacy through talks and performances over five days. Craftspersons depicted traditional arts and heritage walks took visitors down memory lane of yesteryear Goa. Evenings turned the open-air Francisco Luis Gomes garden into a vibrant ambience of live music and never before seen performances.
“For most visitors to Goa, heritage is restricted to the historical monuments and picturesque by-lanes of the city,” explained Heta Pandit, Vice Chairperson of GHAG. “Goa has so much more to offer. We are celebrating history in a tangible and intangible manner and making our people and visitors aware of the wealth of Goan heritage,” she added.
A student paints a family member |
Residents opened their doors to learn more about their neighbourhood. Derrick Rebello, who lives in the area, confessed, “My family has been living in Campal for the past 75 years. I have realised it has so much history we are unaware of. It is a seven-kilometer-long promenade, which many didn’t know about. This makes you wonder, other secrets of Panjim we don’t know about.”
Vivek Menezes curated a thought-stimulating series of talks that roped in India’s best names in food, literature, and poetry. Politician Shashi Tharoor spoke to a packed house, while Goa’s celebrated son, Chef Avinash Martins offered plenty of food for thought in his discussion on his culinary journey.
Celebrated Indian social worker, designer, writer, and craft activist Laila Tyabji spoke on the Kunbi saree at the festival. “Crafts, art, folk performances, and sculptures need recognition as luxury items and a potential goldmine. I have written extensively about sarees that have made an impact throughout its history,” she told the audience.
A significant, visible impact of the festival was the active participation of the next generation. Carlos de Souza, the festival director and one of the young voices said, “I hope this festival is a nudge in the right direction for the young generation. The future we want to see is ours to make, but we need to get up, go out and start working to make it happen.” Saloni Sardesai, who worked at the event, said heritage is subjective. “It has shown us how different everything is when it comes to people. Tribal people from Cortigao sang their folk songs, but we had Sonia Shirsat, Nadia Rebello, and Omar singing the Portuguese fado too. It was a fantastic showcase for the first time.”
Artworks by students from Goa College of Arts |
The festival aimed to widen the concept of cultural heritage through human creativity and expressions via photography, documentary, sculptures, paintings and artefacts. Students from the Goa College of Art explored their connection with heritage through art. Under the expert guidance of noted artist Siddhesh Gautam, the group produced a unique exhibition of photographs, digital art, canvas, mixed media, and etching.
Enalizza Soares Rebello paid tribute to a family member, Advocate Joaquim Filipe Neri Soares Rebello, a playwright, advocate, and lawyer from Margao in pen. Sheena Braganca captured the traditional basket weavers in digital art. Some depicted dasro, or dances like Veerbadra and Natya Vasya. Ashita Matonkar, a fourth-year student whose unique mix-media explored the traditional patraval, a plate made from jackfruit leaves. “I remember doing this with my grandmother. I wanted to document this method that is replaced with plastic. I want to create awareness of the leaf plates.”
The festival proved to be a stimulant to inspire the young and could start a new journey to infuse fresh ideas on the discourse of heritage and need for preservation.
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