Herald: Eminent Goans Day – honours famous Goenkars

Eminent Goans Day – honours famous Goenkars

02 Jun 2019 05:38am IST
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02 Jun 2019 05:38am IST
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Golden Stars Cultural Promoters observed Eminent Goans Day on May 31, 2019, after Goa celebrated its Statehood Day on May 30. WILFRED PEREIRA recalls how true Goenkars have still not forgotten their forefathers who made Goa famous all over the globe

Kator re bhaji (cut the veggies) are three Konkani words which are attributed to Father Caetano, the father of Abbe Faria, one of the most eminent Goans.

History tells us that Abbe Faria was asked by this father to give a speech in the Royal Chapel in Portugal. However, on seeing the king and the princes, Abbe was so nervous that he could not utter a word. Realising this Abbe’s father went to his side and whispered these words, Kator re bhaji. The words had such an impact on Abbe that he rendered one of the finest sermons which impressed everyone in the royal chapel.

These three words also prompted Isabel de Santa Rita Vaz to write and direct a play on the 250th anniversary of Faria’s birth in 2006. Abbe Faria (Portuguese Abade Faria) or Abbe (Abbot) Jose Custodio de Faria was born on May 31, 1756.

To mark the occasion Eminent Goans Day was celebrated by the Green Stars Cultural Promoters in Panjim on May 31, 2019 with a small but meaningful celebration at the house of Octavio de Costa Rodrigues, behind Goa College of Pharmacy, Panjim.

Among the speakers was Lourenco Fernandes, who reminded the audience how the three words –Kator re bhaji– were born. Besides, Francis Pais spoke on another eminent Goan Dr Francisco Luis Gomes (incidentally born on May 31, 1829), while Ana TF Rodrigues expounded on another famous Goan, Dr Bhau Dajji Laad, whose death occurred on May 31, 1874.

Credit must be given to Octavio da Costa Rodrigues, who is celebrating the Eminent Goans Day for the past few years.

With only statues to remind us of the great Goans of yester years, the present generation knows very little about the history of these Goenkars who carried Goa’s name far and wide around the globe. The three Konkani words might be used many a time by Goans but very few will know from where they originated. We might often recall these words in the tiatrs nowadays when some singer or actor goes blank in his/her dialogues or songs and someone will promptly say Kator re bhaji.

The Green Stars Cultural Promoters brought out a souvenir Nanvoste Goykar on the occasion and also released a booklet on Xennoi Goembab, written by Dr Manoharrai Sardessai from Margao.

The life of Dr Francisco Luis Gomes was elaborated by Francis Pais. He explained how Dr Francisco Luis Gomes was sent to Lisbon in 1860 after he was elected by Salcete and Canacona to represent the Goans. His first talk in Lisbon was on the “Rights of Colonies to Representation” and spoke how Goa lacked in development. Dr Gomes, Pais said, was a true Catholic and always wanted that people should look at each other in the same way and always fought against slavery which was his enemy. Dr Gomes got rid of the tax people had to pay when families used to lose a relative of theirs. He also simplified the rules of getting married and helped people not to come all the way to Panjim to get marriage licence. He died of tuberculosis on his way home from Madeira Islands on September 25, 1869.

Ana Rodrigues expounded the life of Dr Bhau Dhaji Lad, who was born in Mandrem, Pernem taluka in 1822. Due to the harsh rules in Goa during the Portuguese rule, Dr Lad went to Bombay and started making statues and selling them for one or two paise. He went on to study medicine and was very successful in carrying out surgeries. Due to his keen interest in plants Dr Lad travelled to Karwar in search of herbal medicinal plants and succeeded in developing a medicine for curing leprosy which he sent to a Leprosy hospital in Ratnagiri. However, Dr Lad passed away before he could reveal his secret cure of leprosy to his students.

Octavio, in his thanksgiving speech, said he couldn’t have the function in a big way this year, but nevertheless didn’t want to give up celebrating the Eminent Goans Day. Last year Octavio had the function at the Tiatr Academy of Goa, Panjim where speakers described the life of tiatrist C Alvares and Roy Menezes and his band entertained the audience. Octavio thanked all those who attended the function. He also celebrated Goa Statehood Day on May 30, 2019 with a photography exhibition “Goa” with different exquisite pictures bringing out the beauty of the Rome of the East.

A brass band, under the sound set-up of Francisco Dias entertained the attendees. Singers included Martha D’Souza, Celfra Azavedo, Francisco Pais, George de Agassaim. Nixon Vaz on the keyboards with Francisco Xavier Azavedo (Putush) on the drums and Victorino Araujo on trumpet accompanied the singers who sang Konkani songs. 

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