I consider myself a Goan with basic roots of my ancestors based in Goa with its unique culture, heritage, customs and traditions that have evolved for centuries including its caste system that is rapidly changing and keeping up with the modern times.
The title 'Goan' is unique and respected in the diaspora. A Goan could be defined as one who is originating from Goa, and who has his or her basic roots in Goa with an established member of the past generations of one's family or people - as ancestors - in all walks of life, having a precursor in a family lineage based in Goa.
In general, the title defining a Goan can be used to describe the people of Goa, India, who form an ethno-linguistic group resulting from the assimilation of Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Indo-Portuguese and Austro-Asiatic ethnic and/or linguistic ancestries.
Although I do not belong to any Goan Association here at present, I have patronized and supported various Goan associations in the past, by taking part in helping and participating in social functions, and also as a committee member celebrating village feasts, annual outings/picnics to parks far and near, pilgrimages to distant towns, and annual gatherings of families and friends at Christmas and New Year Functions.
Yes, the folks who are members of Goan Associations are very much active, dedicating their spare time and efforts in organizing events on weekends, besides having their regular full day jobs. They are enthusiastic in the role they play in society, in spite of long distances of travel to attend convened meetings in order to organize any function or event. In the past, I have served my tenure for one year as an Honorary President of my Alma Mater - St. Anthony's High School, Monte de Guirim, Bardez, Goa. I was assisted by a team, which
consisted of ex-students and their families, friends and fellow Goans. It was well attended by over 420 people, both ex-students, their families and friends, raising a charity fund, and the proceeds generated having been remitted directly to the respective School in Goa. I have also served as a committee member for several years with other volunteer ex-students as committee members from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The cultural aspect at such events is maintained by choreographing Goan songs and dances at such social functions by volunteers, by training young adults, for instance, in the traditional Kunbi Dance, Mando, Corridinho, etc. Konkani dramas (Tiatr) are also held three or more times a year in the GTA with packed audiences.
A major indoor annual event called 'Viva Goa' organized by the G.O.A. Goan Overseas Association of Toronto has been on-going fixture for many years and has for the last 2 years been held as an outdoor event, once with the Mayor of Mississauga as the chief guest. Famous Goan singers have also made special guest appearances at such gatherings. There are many Goan speciality food stalls set up at these types of venues with Goan folks selling home-made sausages, pickles, dodol, bebinca, etc., and also inter-village soccer tournament being held side by side.
There is also a very interesting and entertaining live 2-hour Konkani Radio Program entitled ‘Radio Mango’ that broadcasts Konkani and Mangalorean songs weekly in Toronto, every Saturday on FM101.30. This is the first ever weekly Konkani radio program in Canada presented by volunteers who dedicate their time and effort with additional support from Goans and Mangaloreans in making this a reality. Entrepreneurs, enterprising and inspiring Goans, doctors and businessmen, actors and actresses, priests, fashion designers, engineers, architects, writers and poets, sportsmen and sportswomen, musicians and prominent visiting Goan and Mangalorean entertainers have been interviewed on a weekly basis, with a segment of news from home broadcast live on this program since its inception on 29th September 2012. Click on the following link for more details about how to listen to this fabulous Konkani Radio presentation from Toronto worldwide.
The Goan community at large is well-known among the general population, acknowledged and accepted, playing its own role in society. Every village is an important one to every Goan wherever he hails from, and is proud of it. And as every village has its own Saint, its feast day is very significant to them. Hence they try and celebrate it with great pomp and fervour. Whoever is interested in his or her village feast will go out of their way to form or join a committee of Goans. Various associations take them in their fold, irrespective of which village they belong to, and without prejudice. Strictly, own village committees also do exist with eager members who come forward to help, oblige and organize any event or feast. To cite an example, one could precede a village name to the word ‘Social', ‘Get-together’, ‘Ball’ or ‘Annual Dance’ for practically every village thus calling it 'Anjuna Social', 'Aldona Social', 'Parra Social', 'Calangute Social' or have picnic and calling it 'Anjuna Picnic', 'Aldona Picnic', 'Parra Picnic', 'Calangute Picnic' etc.
Many Goan Seniors Clubs, Sports Committees of various football, cricket, carrom and field hockey associations and organizations have been established over the years and with participation by those who are interested in their own particular choice of sports activities by patronizing such social groups.
The very popular and common traditional Litany - a collection of a form of prayer that is sung at wayside Crosses, Chapels and homes in the vast countryside around Goa - is also sung at some private functions. I have attended sung litany on various occasions in my life abroad and played the violin on two such gatherings.
Konkani Mass is solemnly celebrated at least once or twice a year and attended by Goans with great pride from all walks of life creating a happy atmosphere, especially in major towns, particularly on the feast day of St. Francis Xavier complete with hymns and a homily delivered in Konkani by Goan priests belonging to own parishes, or other priests invited from other Catholic parishes around the GTA who are fluent in Konkani, followed by a procession as a finale. Such events remind us about our native land – Goa, keeping us in touch and close to home. Masses in English are celebrated daily, and also with extra services on Saturdays and Sundays with full attendance, mainly on the feast days of the Virgin Mary, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Anne, Christmas, New Year and Easter Sunday. My children sang in our local parish church choir.
A true Goan takes Goa with him or her wherever he or she goes around the world.
Author of ‘Goa – Memories of My Homeland’ (Poems and Short Stories)