On August 26, the island of Divar was in a festive mood with Bonderam and as every Goan who descended on the island were in awe with the floats, there was one person, who had thoughts racing through his mind. Porbu Waddo-based Freddy Ferrao had been working for many days on creating the float for his group, Romantic, based on the ‘Uniqueness of Divar’. The float did win third place this year, but Freddy has been a veteran when it comes to creating beautiful and creative floats. As an artist, he has been designing corporate logos, stationery, signage printing, photography, face painting tattoos for theme shows and designing floats. He has been involved in Bonderam since 1986, doing props for dancers and painting theme banners, posters etc for almost 37 years now.
For the first time, he was invited to London to bring the true magic of Bonderam to the people who were missing out on the Goan experience of floats, “Landing in UK was like a dream, I never thought that one day I’ll get a chance to be in UK to do floats for Divar Bonderam. Keegan D’Costa, proprietor of Thousand Wishes Décor and Events, a good friend of mine, gave me this opportunity to showcase my talent here in the UK. Last year, he organised Bonderam in the UK for the first time. This time he planned to introduce floats for Bonderam here. These are small trolleys and not huge floats like we do in Divar using vehicles or big trolleys. Floats were planned a month back, so songs could be chosen for dance performances. But the planning to execute the floats was done only after I landed on August 27,” says Freddy Ferrao, all the way from the UK.
The Traditional Divar Bonderam in UK 2023 was organised for the second year by Thousand Wishes Decor and Events and consisted of four colourful traditional floats, great music through live performances and DJ music, and off course, the sumptuous Goan cuisine. Held at Cranford Community College, Hounslow, West London, the event, was supported by the United Goans Wembley and Divar Islanders UK. “It was a great feeling, meeting and greeting friends and people from Divar as well as fellow Goan friends and old pals. That warm hospitality made me comfortable and felt as if I was in Goa only. The floats were very well accepted as for them it’s new and they said it should be there every year. I couldn’t do much with 3 dimensional objects, I managed with 2 dimensional objects giving it the 3 dimensional effect in painting,” adds Freddy.
He created four floats with the focus on Goa’s rich heritage. One float highlighted the fresh seasonal fruits and flowers available in Goa from paddy, mangoes, cashews and coconuts. The second float focused on Goan musical instruments like saxophone, violin, ghumot and a guitar with cute little music notes adding more glamour to it. The third float was based on the thriving fishing community in Goa with a white trawler named Sao Pedro with a fishing net and fish leaping out of the water. The fourth float was based on a universal message to save the fragile environment with the message, ‘Care for Nature, Don't litter as Plastic Chokes.’
“I suggested that we have floats on Goan culture, occupation, music and maybe a float on a social message. We had almost one day for one float, Bonderam was celebrated over the weekend in the UK. I had no idea what material they use and what is available in the UK. Keegan knew what was available here in the UK, as he does events, but I managed with thermocol that was available and rubber foam that I had carried from Goa. I also carried acrylic colours, strainers, brushes, fishing net with floaters etc from Goa,” says Freddy.
Working with the change in weather was another challenge for Freddy. While working outdoors in Goa is not much of a problem, the unpredictable weather in the UK makes one run indoors. “I had a tough time with the UK weather as it is really unpredictable. Sometimes it’s bright and sunny, then suddenly it rains making it very difficult to work. I had to shift everything inside and I am not used to the cool breeze and cold weather, so I had to use lip balm for my cracked lips,” he explains.
On a short visit to the UK, Freddy is making the most of his time exploring the UK to the fullest. “I want to see the iconic landmarks, capture the beautiful architectural monuments, their art, graffiti on walls and artist performances. Since I’m a Bachelor in Fine art, I have sketched a few places I visited. In fact, I did only a few sketches as time constraints, going sightseeing around the UK,” says Freddy, who beautifully sketched scenes from Leicester Square, Eton Bridge and OXO Tower Wharf.
He also realised the sense of city life in the UK. “The unimaginable underground trains system, cleanliness without any littering around and the best part is traffic sense. Everyone follows strict traffic signs, signals, speed limits and even gives way for other vehicles. I didn’t even hear a single horn, unlike in Goa, people just honk, abuse others and litter places,” concludes Freddy, who will be arriving in Goa soon.