Goan community celebrates World Goa Day

14 Sep 2020

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A member of the Goan community sings a song during the festival.
—Fahim Siddiqi/ White Star
A member of the Goan community sings a song during the festival. —Fahim Siddiqi/ White Star

KARACHI: There was music, laughter and plenty to be cheerful and grateful about as the Goan community in Pakistan celebrated World Goa Day 2020 at the St Patrick’s Cathedral ground here on Saturday evening.

Many of the menfolk were seen wearing flowery Hawaiian shirts on the occasion as the women wore pretty and colourful dresses with fresh flowers in their hair.

A former Portuguese colony, Goa that is now a small state in India famous for its beaches and exciting social life, is also known as the ‘Rome of the East’. The people of Goa are considered warm-hearted and jovial. Due to its rich Portuguese and Indian history, the life and culture of Goa is a nice blend of both west and east.

Most of the songs presented at the festival were sung in Konkani, the spoken language of Goa, although among all those who attended the event there were many people, especially the younger lot, who have been born in Pakistan and have never visited Goa.

There are only around 6,000 Goans left here in Pakistan as most have migrated to other countries

Seventeen-year-old Liberetta Pinto, an O-Levels Commerce student at St Patrick’s Girls High School, whose travels include Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, has only heard about Goa from her elders or learned about it from books and magazines or films. “I want to visit Goa, too, someday,” Liberetta, who sang a beautiful song in Konkani, told Dawn.

Apart from the music, there were also cake cutting ceremonies for all Goans who had their birthdays coming up.

Reverend Father Mario Rodrigues, the parish priest at St Jude’s Parish, cut his birthday cake as did Agnes Kenney, who also had her birthday coming up the next day in fact. The Cardinal Archbishop of Karachi Joseph Cardinal Coutts also cut his Episcopal Ordination anniversary cake on the occasion.

Meanwhile, Peter Mendes, the president of Goinkars Own Academy (GOA), the organisers of the festival in Pakistan, told Dawn that Goans around the world celebrate World Goa Day every year to try and retain their own identity. He said that the Goinkars Own Academy was established in Pakistan in the year 2000 by Maurice Coutinho but he later moved to Canada. Then after lying dormant for a few years, it has now been revived.

Mendes also said that many Goans living in Pakistan are now migrated to countries such as Canada and the United States in their search for a better life and that there are only a few of them left here now. “There are only around 6,000 of us left here in Pakistan now,” he shared, adding that their organisation’s main objective was to continue revitalising the Goan culture and their mother tongue by holding more such events, that are socially and spiritually charged, among whatever is left of their community in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2020