2005-04-21 07:33:41 UTC
Much swaying, some clapping... and only a little dancing
By Ronita Torcato
ronitatorcato at yahoo.co.in
Like post-modern educationists, the Lions Club of Assolna,Velim & Cuncolim
believes that everyone is a winner. For each and every member of the dozen
odd choral groups participating in the all-Goa Mando Festival in Margao, on
the eve of Goa's Liberation Day was presented with a gleaming little trophy.
Lions Clubs the world over are normally associated with community service
through educational, medical and health camps. The AVC Lions' Mandofest
held, fittingly, in the capital of Salcete, the birthplace and home of the
'Mando', was a departure from convention. Nevertheless, commendations are
in order, for what the Club president, Francis Braz described as "an
endeavour to preserve Goan culture and heritage."
I don't know about the preservation bit, but encouragement, certainly.
This songfest was segmented into categories: age-wise, Juniors, Seniors;
contentwise, Traditional (Opera-style) and Original. The group from Fatorda
sang an original composition by the late Fr Freddy. The winning quartet
included the Junior Fultin Fulha (Blooming Flowers) from Merces, the Mando
Mogis (Mando Lovers) from Margao (seniors) came up trumps in the
Traditional and Original sections while the group from Fatorda won for
What did they sing? Mandos of union (Ekvott) and lamentation (Villap)
sung in harmony (two parallel voices, the third and the sixth). There were
some small children in a couple of groups.
Boys seemed to have been in short supply, because they were substituted in
some groups, by girls in formal male attire. The young ladies wore a Toddop,
'Bazu' and 'Fota' (long skirt, hip-length blouse, a chunni-like sash). Their
hair was pinned Japanese style, delicate hands fluttered pretty fans.
There was much swaying, some clapping during the lively appendations
(dulpots) but little dancing (the mando is also a dance) Somehow, I
don't recall seeing the flourishing of handkerchieves, a trademark
of the mando songdance.
Each group sang to the accompaniment of their own back-up band on "gumott"
(batuque), a local percussion instrument, 'rebec' (violin) and guitar. Some
groups had more than one violinist. In parts of Goa and elsewhere in India,
a musical instrument like the piano has been used for a mando but in
Salcette, the use of such instruments would have, till recently, been
considered a 'sacrilege'.
The competitive element at the Mando Festival entailed the disbursal of cash
prizes from donors including a well-wisher who preferred anonymity to three
winning teams: Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 for the runners-up, Rs 2,000 plus Rs 500
travel allowance for the first place; two of these commemorate the late
journalist, linguist and Konkani activist Fr Freddy da Costa who lost his
life in a tragic accident in Belgaum; one is dedicated to the memory of Tony
Cash prizes tend to be modest in the state which boasts of the
highest standard of living. Two all-Goa football events begin held
around the same time offer similar amounts. One wonders why the
multinationals and blue chip firms that dot the Goan landscape are
reluctant to loosen purse-strings. The Emperor Vikramaditya who
lavished largesse on his Nava Ratnas (nine human-gems representing
various facets of the arts) are history. Today, the corporate sector
would do well to acknowledge its responsibility to nurture and
foster the arts and culture.
However, good intentions alone will not suffice. It is exasperating to say
the least when the power supply breaks down as frequently as it does in
Salcette. Unsurprisingly, the electricity went for a toss at the Mando
fest; fortunately, the AVC Lions had ensured a stand-by generator to tide
with exigencies. Certainly, it will help if the state government spent some
money on rural Goa instead of splurging on Panaji's VIP areas which never,
ever experience power disruptions or water shortages.
Organisers must hone up on time management (the festival began an hour late)
and strive for a full house. Even as busy Lions like Ganesh Daivajyna and Dr
Sampat took time off from a busy schedule to attend, the venue of the
Mandofest, the Fatima Convent Hall had a skeletal audience, which was not
lost on chief guest, the (then) honourable Minister for Water Resources,
Filipe Neri Rodrigues, who wondered just how many villagers from AVC were
present. Lack of publicity could perhaps be the reason for the poor
Interestingly, Mrs Cheryl Zariwala, a Mumbai Lions District Governor on a
brief vacation in Goa told me that a capacity crowd attended the Lorna
concert held behind Loyola High School later the same evening. It's
possible that pop-divas like Lorna are crowd-pullers, while mandos may well
possess limited appeal.
Mr Rodrigues who has earned bouquets from his constituency for supporting
folk arts, candidly expressed being "confused by the dulpots being sung at
the end of the mandos."
Fluency in the Konkani language is no guarantee of a knowledge of the
intricacies of Goan music and it would have helped if the otherwise capable
emcee Wilson Mazarello had interspersed information on mandos, dulpots and
the like with the jokes and mando-quiz. Mr Mazarello gave out cassettes to
the correct responses to queries which pertained to numbers sung by his
singer-wife Sharon; while yours truly relished learning that two of the
loveliest vintage mandos ever were composed by "Champion" Alvares and P.
What's a mando anyway? Simply defined, a ballad sung in slow tempo,
a song of emotions, especially love. Dulpots are an upbeat, rhythmic
folk genre, mostly centred on animal fables. Michael Martins,
musician, folklorist, and musicologist whose works include the Mando
and Dekni Sequences (1955-1967) wrote a definitive account of the
music form. A mando is a dance song typically of quatrains, often
having appended choruses, set in six-four time. Its main themes are
love and events, the latter social and political in nature. But its
favourite theme is love and marriage, where the lover yearns for
union with his beloved, achieves it, or laments his failure to
realize it in matrimony at the altar.
Specifically, the mando is one of the 35 types of Konkani song, of which the
Goan is a pre-eminent branch. The Konkan coast, it must be noted, is a
treasury of the traditional music of the Indian subcontinent.
The 35 types include the monophonic and harmonic varieties, the former
prevalent before the Portuguese brought Western music into India, and the
latter, consequent to the Western impact.
It was in Goa that Indian musicians first began to compose in
Western musical forms, incorporating into them motifs and nuances of
their own tradition. Goans carried this to Bollywood, even today,
the majority of musicians in the film industry are Goan.
But it was the Church that nurtured music and can be credited for the rise
of a whole generation of Goan musicians. Music spread through the
catechetical classes (escolas de doutrina) which were organised in the wake
of the Portuguese colonisation of Goa in the 16th century, and which, later
in the 19th century, came to be known as parochial schools (escolas
Small boys were taught to play instruments like the violin; subsequently,
they served their own villages as violinists, organists, composers and
'mestres' (choir masters). Some of the compositions of the 'mestres" of
Salsete, in particular, the "Motets Quaresmais" (Lenten Hymns) are well
known in Goa.
The "Mando" takes its provenance from folklore and the folk-songs which were
popular among the people for generations before the advent of the Portuguese
conquistadors. It was, from the beginning, a fusion of the harmony normally
associated with Western music and the popular music of India influenced by
Christian religious music. Honed and refined by the composers of Salcete in
the nineteenth century, the mandos have continued since then as classics --
both in song and dance.
No wedding or important function of the cultured would pass without the
'Mando' being sung and danced by villagers or the guests. That tradition was
preserved by the aristocrats of such villages in Salcete, as Loutolim,
Curtorim, Benaulim, Raia, Chandor, and Verna among others.
These villages also gave birth to musicians who composed some of the finest
'Mandos'. The major composers were a triad called Arnaldo, Gizelino and
At the Lions Mandofest, Fatorda parish priest Romano Gonsalves who
was felicitated for nurturing Goan music, especially the genre in
the spotlight, pointed out that at a similar musical event held last
year, as many as 14 mandos out of the 17 performed, were original
compositions from Salcette. He also called for the archival
recording and preservation of new mandos. As things stand, only old
mandos can be accessed from the Goa University achives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ronita Torcato is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai,
where she has worked and freelanced for a number of prominent publications,
including the Times of India. Of Goan origin, her home is in the AVC belt of
Salcete, and she is currently member of the editorial board of the
Mumbai-based Catholic newsweekly 'The Examiner' http://www.examinerindia.com
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