18 May 2024  |   05:15am IST

Do you realise you live in a museum?

Every individual lives in a museum filled with a diverse collection of antiquities, worth preserving for posterity. May 18 is a reminder to one and all to take advantage of museums around
Do you realise you live  in a museum?

Frazer Andrade

International Museum Day is a day held annually on or around May 18, coordinated by the International Council of Museums. Museums serve as dynamic educational hubs, fostering curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. One needs to acknowledge their contribution to research, providing a platform for exploration and the dissemination of new ideas. From art and history to science and technology, museums are vital spaces where education and research converge to shape our understanding of the world. But has one ever paid thought, to the museums in which one may be living in? 

The houses, the land, the rivers, the forests and the world in whole is a museum with tons of natural and manmade tangible and intangible heritage. It is the need of the hour that parents ignite the love for heritage in the hearts and minds of their young children, emphasizing more on the sentimental value that things they have inherited, rather than focusing on the monetary values that they may possess. Focusing on materialistic values that things hold, only fosters greed which ultimately results in destruction and loss of antiquities one has acquired from the generations gone by. 

“It feels great to live in ancestral houses. However, I face lot of difficulty when it comes to undertaking repair works with no skilled labor available,” mentions Ranjeev Fernandes, who lives in a heritage house in Chandor, which is over 600 years old.

“I feel very humbled and blessed to be living in a heritage house in today’s times,” says Sameena Falleiro, Borda, Margão, a professor at Chowgule College in Margão. Further she states, “Maintenance, especially of the house roof tiles, wooden rafters and cleaning of the house is a major challenge in terms of labor and finance. I do enjoy living in it because I feel we as a family living in the home are contributing towards preserving the rich heritage and culture of Goa that has been inherited by us,” mentioned Sameena.

“The feeling of living in this 250-year-old home and in this village, bring back nostalgic memories of the place where we used to play, my local school and my old friends, some who are no more and some who are growing old with me. To forget one’s ancestry is like a tree without roots or a brook without a source. I can revive my old memories and every place in the house has a history, even a sugar bowl or an old arm chair,” mentions heritage enthusiast, Irwin Antão from Culsabhat, Chandor. 

Further he mentions, “Some of the memories are so refreshing that I can narrate stories as though it happened yesterday. There is a deep sense of belonging to this village, the church, the traditions and culture. We are more with nature and nature reacts to our action. In this ancestral home we can live with the past recalling memories of mangoes we ate which is a luxury today, the tasty dishes prepared on firewood, and sometimes rare festival sweets.”

Irwin says, “There are many problems that we face while we live in this house, especially when monsoons are approaching. We have to be ready for any eventuality like roof leakages, a tree falling etc. I fear the cyclonic winds as I have experienced a cyclone when I was a kid. We have many animal friends like monkeys visiting us creating a havoc with our roof. Wild cats, monitor lizards, bats are frequent visitors. Our worst fear is white ant infestation which create maximum damage to wooden frame works of the roof.  These old houses need constant repair and the government needs to allocate some fund for their maintenance. I have no fear of ghosts as many do, but sometimes of reptiles creeping here and there.”  

He further adds, “Nowadays, we have the fear of robbery which is a great menace. Another problem is that we cannot easily install ACs due to our high false ceiling. We enjoy living in this house but sometimes have mixed feelings, as it becomes very difficult to maintain this big house, and envy people staying in City apartments with all the amenities. But overall, we enjoy the village life, the greenery and the peace the place has to offer. The great feeling of changes in the present over all lifestyle is felt here. From oil lamps to LED lights, from radio to TV, from fire to gas, from well water to municipal water, from water boiled on firewood to using a geyser, from using a grinding stone to mixer and on and on.” 

Every house or rather every home is a living museum. The windows, the crockery, the furniture, the lighting and everything in it is an antiquity needed to be acknowledged. It is unfortunate that people do not care for the pieces that they have inherited. It is necessary that one starts valuing every bit of “the old” that one has, within one’s house and surrounding. Since it is never too late or rather better late than never that people realize the importance of all that remains with them. One needs to understand that the culture, oral heritage, food habits, daily utility objects at home etc., all together make up museums in which one lives. It is heart breaking to see people consider their possessions as those that do not qualify to be considered as heritage, just because they may be not as grand, majestic, aesthetically appealing or materialistically valuable.

Noted historian from Goa, Prajal Sakhardande speaks about the natural heritage that envelopes Goa, “In Panjim, a beautiful heritage Banyan tree was mercilessly cut and translocated in a mutilated from. The authorities have not been concerned about the citizen’s voices pleading to save their age-old trees. A beautiful Heritage rain tree was also cut.” All these are aspects of natural antiquities seen around. 

Pereira-Braganza family in Chandor, has a small chapel with a relic of St Francis Xavier. “Living in a heritage home feels amazing. It is indeed nothing less than living in a museum! There is a certain warmth and coziness that comes with the unique design they have. It is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. One can imagine the stories and lives of those who lived there during the years gone by. Living in an ancestral house myself gives me the pride of carrying ahead the legacy of my ancestors. Staying in a heritage home can be challenging due to the high maintenance costs incurred. These houses require specialized attention due to their age and unique architectural design. 

Over time heritage houses can experience wear and tear and may require regular care. Proper ventilation can help prevent many problems. Living in a heritage home is awesome. I really enjoy it. The old-fashioned style and unique features make it super cool. Yes, it can have some problems, but the history and charm of the place make it totally worth. It’s like living in a really special space”, says André Bragança Pereira, the grandson of the Bragança Pereira family ,. One needs to preserve one’s past for the sake of the generations to come, learning from it, taking pride in oneself without trying to imitate the other. 

“Living in an ancestral house gives me a sense of privilege and appreciation of one’s roots. It’s said that your home is a reflection of your values and personality. However, the main difficulties we face are the rising dampness issues and termite problems which require constant timely maintenance and  renovation, while the best part is that one learns to appreciate and value one’s rich cultural heritage while one is living in it,” says Gema Caldeira e Fernandes a resident of the ‘Casa Grande’ in Cotta, Chandor.


Iddhar Udhar