ASSAGAO: Fondly called ‘fulancho ganv’, or the village of flowers, Assagao was once a blossoming paradise. Nestled in a valley, many villagers thrived on the cultivation of flowers, with locals selling their blooms in neighbouring markets. The heart of Assagao was its beloved ‘Fulancho Mollo’, a comunidade land where flowers flourished. However, as rapid commercialisation sweeps through Assagao with each passing day, the Mollo has faded into memory, and the sight of fullam (garlands) has become scarce. Ironically, it is not a native son or daughter of Assagao but a daughter-in-law who has valiantly preserved this cherished tradition for nearly four decades. Jeevani Jagannath Raikar, a resilient woman of 65, was born into a family of nine children in Pomburpa, Bardez.
Growing up in humble circumstances, Jeevani’s family faced many hardships. However, her father's unwavering determination became a guiding light. “My father was a very determined person. He worked very hard, particularly in preparing eatables like bhajiya for village plays,” Jeevani reminisces. “Along with nourishing our bodies, my father instilled in his
children a love for plants and
flowers and taught us the art of making garlands.
For Jeevani, life has never been a bed of roses. Yet, she wears a warm smile and radiates a humble demeanour, despite weathering countless storms. Reflecting on her childhood, Jeevani reveals, “My education is only till fourth standard in Marathi medium. Our father somehow managed to run the family with his income.” Following her father's footsteps, Jeevani's family occupied a fixed space in the Mapusa municipal flower market, where they sold flowers and crafted garlands. “After having sufficient savings in hand, my husband purchased a bike, and encouraged me to continue with my work of making garlands and selling flowers,” she recounts.
Amidst the joys and challenges of raising two daughters and a son, tragedy struck Jeevani's family when her husband passed away, just as they were on the verge of celebrating their silver jubilee. In the face of adversity, her children faced tough choices. Jeevani’s eldest daughter decided to forego further studies, while her son pursued a teaching career, and her younger daughter became a lawyer. Jeevani's strength never wavered, as she valiantly carried the weight of her family's well-being. “For the last 30 years, I have been going from my husband's house in Assagao, to Mapusa to sell flowers,” she confides. Her dedication to her craft became the driving force behind her children's academic achievements.
Though her work has not received the recognition it truly deserves, Jeevani remains unfazed. “I feel God has blessed me. In December, the committee of St. Sebastian Chapel from my ward felicitated me for my work and praised my efforts.” When asked about her future, Jeevani replies with a twinkle in her eye, “I want to do this as long as health permits.” The flower business, she says, brings her peace, tranquillity, and acts as a balm for her weary soul.
“Whatever I have achieved today is because of my father, my family support, my husband’s support, and the support of my neighbours,” she humbly acknowledges. Jeevani firmly believes that preserving Goan traditions is paramount. She has already passed on the art of garland making to her children, ensuring that this unique tradition endures.
“There is no shame in any job,” she affirms, underlining the value of hard work and determination.