02 Aug 2022  |   05:14am IST

SWEETENING THE MONTH OF AUGUST

On the first day of August, Goan families have a taste of something sweet particularly jaggery and coconut. The tradition is passed down from generation to generation and this tradition is still followed through the month of August with the celebrating of different Catholic and Hindu festivals
SWEETENING THE MONTH OF AUGUST

T

he age-old Goan tradition of starting the month of August on a sweet note, first thing in the morning, has been passed down from generations. On the first day of August, as told by our elders, is a day where families prepare a sweet dish using jaggery and coconut. “Atol, as it is known, is a sweet prepared in celebration of a good harvest by the landlord (bhatkar) somewhere around October and served to all villagers. Traditionally, it was made and set on banana leaves and is one of the dished prepared on the first of August along with Alle Belle, Patoleo and Mutli - rice dumplings stuffed with grated coconut and jaggery. This tradition has health benefits too. In the month of August many get ill due to the change in weather and coconut jaggery contains iron, minerals and sugars, and these sugars are essential for cold rainy days as they provide energy to keep warm,” says Miguel Braganza, Secretary of Botanical Society of Goa.

This tradition is to celebrate the coconut tree too as they are manured in the month of August. “My mother said August is considered as a month of disgust and it’s believed that eating something sweet would make this month pleasant and sweet,” says Simonie Rego. August also witness festivals of Nag Panchami, Ganesh Chaturthi and the feast of the Assumption of Mary coinciding with Independence Day which are celebrated by preparing Patoleo, which are turmeric leaf wraps, stuffed with grated coconut, rice and jaggery, and cooked by steaming.

“My mother, Ana Regina Antonette Fernandes who is almost 90 years old reminded me to eat coconut and jaggery and yet she said that it doesn’t make the month sweet but it builds the immunity. Now with modernity, traditions are out but there was a reason why these ingredients were celebrated in the form of Patoleos in the month of August. I would like to raise awareness about their traditions in the forthcoming fests. August is a month of festivity and there is a change in weather,” says Marius Fernandes from Divar.

While nibbling on a piece of coconut and jaggery, one would say Augusto di amka gusto which translates to ‘Oh month of August, be sweet to us’.

“My grandmother would say that in the month of August, a lot of people would fall ill due to the change of weather. Our elders were very wise and though we can’t understand the reason behind these traditions, they were followed for a reason. As Goa was an agrarian society, August was usually a time of the year when the previous year’s produce would run out and families would pray to have enough food till the end of the month,” says Natalia Noronha from Margao.

Historian and author of ‘Cozinha de Goa: History and Tradition of Goan Food’, Dr Fatima da Silva Gracias, says, “August is the time of celebrating the beginning of the new harvest which is marked with the preparation of rice based sweets like Patoleo and also to celebrate the Assumption of Mary on Independence Day”.

Like our wise ancestors, as this tradition still continues widely in Goa, may the month be filled with good health and delicacies to sweeten our mouth.

IDhar UDHAR

IDHAR UDHAR