The Ramponkaranche ani Voddekaranche Fest was celebrated by the villagers of Arambol for the second year in succession. The brainchild of the Festamkar, Marius Fernandes, this fest was conceptualized to bring to the fore the dying occupation of traditional fishing in Goa. Very few Ramponkars and Voddekars still practice fishing with their ‘rampons’ (handheld fishing nets) and traditional boats or ‘Voddes’ (canoes). Team Itsgoa got to meet many of the golden oldies from Arambol who still use their Rampons, all past their 70’s.
‘Kotteos’, ‘Ghumots’ et all at the Ramponkaranche ani Voddekaranche Fest
On 30th September, around 9 am, villagers of Arambol began trickling into the quadrangle outside the Mount Carmel Church. All dressed in blue Fest t-shirts – musicians, participants, children, young and old along with noted personalities like Wendell Rodricks, Prajal Sakhardande, O’Luv (Olav Rodrigues), Carlos Gonsalves and Marius Fernandes. All in time for the ‘Pasoi,’ (a leisurely walk down the bylanes) to the Arambol beach. As the group wound their way down to the Arambol beach, the musicians stirred the crowd with various instruments like ‘Mandale’, ‘Ghumots’, ‘Kansalle’, saxophones (alto and soprano) pelting out pop hits of yesteryears. Coconut shells ‘Kotteo’s’ were handed out to all to tap to the beats of the melodious music. It was fun to sing along and tap the kotteos.
Traditional Fishing – a dying occupation say the Ramponkars of Arambol
The Golden Oldies, Martin Monteiro, Rosario Fernandes, Elias Fernandes, Daniel D’souza, Alexin Rodrigues -Ramponkars and Vodekars of Arambol were eager to highlight their woes due to competition by the larger boats/trawlers resulting in scarcity of fish, dwindling income etc. forcing their children to abandon the family occupation.
Says Daniel D’Souza, one of the older fishermen, “Earlier we used canoes or ‘Vodde’ to ferry people across rivers. Today we use them to catch fish. We also build our own boats as there is little or no help from the Government. In the good old days, we caught a lot of fish as there were no outside boats. It earned us our livelihood and fed us. The extra catch of ‘Bangdo’ (mackerel) would be salted and dried and taken to ‘Bombay’ (now Mumbai) to sell. The money we earned would sustain us. We also had other businesses like coconut, paddy. Today people have left their lands and gone away.”
The celebrations were endless. Besides music by the famous singer O’luv and percussionist Carlos Gonsalves, there were song and dance performances by the villagers, young and old.
Each Fest has an anthem
The Arambol Anthem …”Viva, Viva Goa, Viva Arambola. Viva Soglim mhunn ia, Sangatan jieun ia” was sung by a group of villagers with great pride. They spent weeks preparing for this day. Says Marius, “It was a day of giving”. Everything was organized by the people of Arambol. There was ‘pez’ served with ‘water pickle’ and ‘kharyacho’ (‘pez’- a kind of rice porridge had at 11 am, ‘kharyacho’ – salt fish fried in coconut oil and served), all authentic and homemade. For lunch, there was the fresh catch of fish fried, curried and served with home-grown boiled rice and other mouth-watering Goan preparations.
Uzwaad – highlighting social evils through live street performances
Debuting at the Fest was Dhempe College street play group Uzwaad. Conceptualized by Sandra Pereira and Aarti Rane this group aims to create awareness about social and environmental issues that plague society. Through their performance, they highlighted the need to keep our seas and rivers plastic-free. “We Goans boast about Goa. But at the same time are destroying it by dumping plastic straws, plastic bottles, alcohol bottles, and thrash into the sea. This, in turn, destroys marine life and fishing. Instead of fish, the fishing nets tow loads of garbage from the sea.” Goans are selling their soil for ‘nice cash’ instead of saving it for future generations to enjoy.”
A Festival that involves ‘No money’, ‘No Sponsors’, ‘No entry fee’
Marius explained that these Fests like the Patoienchem Fest, Ambeache Fest, Ponsachem Fest, Ghumtache Fest etc., organized by the villagers were free. “Free food, no entry fee, no parking fee!” Says Marius, “What is crucial about these festivals is that they are perhaps the only free festivals all around the world.” As each village is divided into wards, the ward members divide the responsibility among themselves. They contribute and make the festival free for all. Says Marius, its “A day of giving! So Arambol today is giving, and supporting them are people from all around Goa.”
Let us all join hands with the villagers of Goa to preserve our soil, language and culture so our children can experience the same love for their land as our forefathers did.