The lazy evenings in Pilerne are now buzzing with activity as every member of the village is busy helping out with its first ever people’s festival, ‘Matienche Fest’. Come October 2, the village, which is surrounded by Saligao, Porvorim, Britona, Betim and Reis Magos and also home to Savlem Lake, will be making history as it welcomes Goans with day-long activities steeped in heritage, culture and traditions.Curated by Goa’s Festakar himself, Marius Fernandes and Dr Gwendolyn De Ornelas in association with the villagers of Pilerne, Matiechem Fest (Festival of the Soil) will be held at St John de Baptist Church, Pilerne from 10 am to 4 pm. The day will begin with a heritage walk, Pilernechi Pasoi with 13 young boys marching with colourful flags starting from the village panchayat at 10 am and will culminate at St John the Baptist Church, with the resonance of Pilerne brass band and presentation of a short Konkani skit by the Pilerne Theatre Group during the walk. Once the pasoi reaches the church, the church bells will be rung to signal the commencement of the festival by parish priest, Fr Derrick Fernandes, who will launch Pilerne Art and Socio-Cultural Association and Global Goa Girl’s Ghumot Group, followed by the cutting of a cake to mark the third anniversary of the declaration of the Ghumot’s heritage status. This festival marks Marius’ 56th festival till date, in a journey that began 22 years ago. As has been the norm for all the past festivals, there will be no chief guest, sponsors, prizes, competition and no alcohol. There is a special reason why Pilerne was selected as the venue for ‘Matiechem Fest’ even though there is not a single potter in the village. “During the Spanish Flu in 1918, which was called ‘Gripe’ in Konkani, the entire village of Pilerne was affected. The whole Kumbar Vaddo, either moved to other villages and those who stayed back in the village, died. The pandemic flu erased the village. The potter families moved either to Vaddem in Soccoro or to Xelpem, Duler. They are still known as Pienkars in these villages. In the last 30 years, many have found ruins and remains of pottery during excavations carried out to construct houses in the village, which gives evidence of their lives. This is our attempt to bring the potters back to Pilerne,” says Marius Fernandes, who has been living in the village to oversee the preparations. The 13 wards of the village are divided into five groups, with each group providing a dish for lunch and presenting a street cultural dance. The five groups are Goenche Render Goenchi Girestkai, Goencho Poder, Goenchi Vavradi and Goenchi Mati. Goa’s Konkani superstar Oluv will regale the audience in his imitable style, rocking the Ghumot on a specially designed maand (space)that our ancestors used as a stage. “People’s festivals always have something new to offer. You will also experience a Cotteao-Zumba ensemble finale. We plan to create a Pinnacle World Record Goa in using the maximum number of percussion instruments that will include Ghumots, Maddelems, Cotteaos and other instruments. Eric and Joyce Pinto will adjudicate and count the number of percussion instruments. Renowned Chef Peter Fernandes will guide the locals in preparing the varieties of food with Ukde (brown) rice, Sungta (prawn) curry, local seasonal vegetables, mackerel fry and other items on the menu. With our commitment to the Zero- Waste campaign, we want people to come with their own plates, cups, spoons and cutlery to enjoy the culinary delicacies offered by the villagers, and be part of the celebration,” says Marius. Speaking about the festival, Fr Derrick Fernandes, says, “The response for the festival has been very positive. Everyone is excited and the villagers are reliving their good old days. The festival is also seeing people from different faiths coming together, just like Mahatama Gandhi had dreamt of all coming together. For the pasoi too, there will be renditions of Gandhi’s values showcased through the skit. There is a lot of hidden talent in the village which we will get a spotlight at the Matiechem Fest.” As part of the festival, a three-day workshop will be held till October 1, which will teach participants the ancient practice of knitting fronds of the coconut palm into Mollam, art and painting, and visitors can also learn the basics of playing the Ghumot and dance. There will be a Pilerne Art Corner where children trained by Conchita D’Souza will put up their artworks. “There will be a talk by historian Prajal Sakhardande, the students of Our Lady of Remedios High School will present a dance performance portraying the values of Mahatma Gandhi, St Thereza High School, Candolim and Lourdes Convent, Saligao will help with documentation and Chubby Cheeks, Pilerne will present a Mando performance,” says Marius.
Remember to carry your own cutlery if you want to enjoy a sumptuous Sunday meal at the first ever Matiechem Fest in Pilerne.