THE STATE OF GOA

**************DEVACHEA NAVAN ANI GOEMCARANCHEA MANNANK******************* This blog is an attempt to delve into the traditions, heritage, culture, lore and ambience that spawned an enigma. A state of mind. And to perchance perform a perfunctory probe into the psyche of the Goemcar. ************************************************************************************************* GOEMCAR: Any person anywhere in the world - Goemcar rogtacho!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Khorjuem ani Khorjuemcaranchi Canni

PANORAMIC Corjuem forms a dainty bead in the river-rimmed necklace of the emerald islands, which are enveloped by silvery rivers or their tributaries, comprising Goa’s rich heritage and natural grandeur. The little known island, an appendage of Aldona village in the Bardez taluka, is bedecked with undulating landscape and lies just about 10 km-drive east of Mapusa town. The Mapusa river, which emerges from the jungles of Dumacem and Amthane, drains itself in the Mandovi river at Penha de France, which hitherto had set apart Corjuem from mainland Aldona.

Every Goan island has a date with country-crafts and flat-bottomed ferries. The crafts of either kind has sailed into the pages of Corjuem's history with the advent of the lovely FCONS-built bridge, whose foundation was laid on 30 May, when Shripad Y Naik was a Union Minister of State for Roads, Transport and Highways. The Rs.20.70 crore cable stayed, 235-metre bridge, which is the fourth of its type in the country, has curtailed the drive between Bicholim and Panaji by 6-8 kilometres and by 15 km between Aldona and Panjim.

The landmark's pylon rises 45 mt in height, and is lit with floodlights. It is already a part of the tourist's list of attractions. The foundation was done using a hydraulic rig, for the first time in Goa, for speedy construction, which eventually saw that it was completed ahead of schedule.

Within about 1000 metres after landing from the ferryboat, the first landmarks that greets a visitor is the white-washed chapel dedicated to Mae de Deus (Mother of God). The chapel was constructed in 1854 by Joao Felipe Ferreira from Divar, at his own cost plus some contribution from the islanders.

Corjuem, however, falls under the jurisdiction of the Aldona parish with St Thomas as the patron saint. The earlier chapel of St Anthony was in the Corjuem Fort. The Catholics celebrate two main festivals, that of patroness Mae de Deus on the first Sunday after Easter and the second one of St Anthony on June 13.The two-mile long and a little less than half-a-mile fertile island is home to industrious people who culture bewitching greenery by raising the vharvem of fragrant flowers, tendlim, chillies and piao, and rice. However, with constantly breaching bunds, river water winds its way into paddyfields and even spoiling fresh water wells. Some of the older people believe that the water table reduced and that the river water must be seeping inland.

The island sends three elected panchas to the Aldona-Corjuem panchayat. Corjuem comprises eleven vadde: Cuxem, Primeiro Vaddo, Segundo Vaddo, Podwal, Sinkeri, Colomb, Baga, Barazon, Novi Khazon and Khursachi Muddi. It is at Khursachi Muddi that new houses and bungalows have sprung up recently, fuelled largely by Gulf returned wealth. Otherwise, hardly any housing space is available amidst the 350 odd houses, with a population of around 2000. The people once earned their livelihood by raising vegetables in the traditional vharvem. With the increase in the mining activity at neighbouring Poira in Bicholim, menfolk sought employment there. Others found jobs in government departments and private companies elsewhere in Goa, or travelled to the Gulf to better their future.

The entire island once belonged to a big landlord named Ferreira, who lived in a grand mansion with an impressive arched entrance, seen from the erstwhile ferry point. Since then the Ferreira house has changed ownership and now houses the Indian Overseas Bank. As and when the locals could afford, they purchased their small plot and built a house. However, Fr Condilac Olegario Nazare, the founder of the Mae de Deus High School, is said to have obtained plots in a sort of auction held by the Ferreira family, and made it easier for other needy landless islanders to own their plots.

According to Fr Moreno de Souza, sj, (Bardezcheo Igorzo), the island’s name originates from Khor+Zunvem (khor as in khorik=deep or lower, zunvem=island). But one elderly man, we came across, maintained that it could, in fact, be khor or tough and hot-headed. He remembers hearing his older folk talk about the locals burning several country-crafts because a canoe-man had refused to ferry some islanders across the river.

Some lovely houses grace the riverine countryside. Taking a left turn near the chapel, the narrow road heads towards the largest and historic landmark, the Corjuem fort. Caetano de Mello e Castro had snatched it from the Bhonsles in 1705, whereafter it was rebuilt. The students of the Military School were trained in maneuvers at the fort, which was armed with four guns until the beginning of 1800. Since 1834 the fort remained abandoned. Recently, however, the quadrangular structure, which would serve as a superb amphitheatre with at its centre, has witnessed some repairs.

Once frequently comes across traditional fishing contraptions called mannxeo (dykes), those of which on the east overlook the massive iron-ore dumps beyond Poira. The local MLA, Dayanand Narvekar, seems to have ensured that even the narrowest lane, leading sometimes to almost nowhere-in-particular, has been tarred. Assonora provides water to Corjuem, which saw the earliest telephone connection some time in the year 1999.

The Comunidades of Corjuem are: Boa Esperanca and Fraternal. As in Aldona, the people of Corjuem are wellknown singers, mestre Tavares being an outstanding musician. It is a place peopled by simple, rural folks. Bishop Vincent Castellino and Fr Francisco Pinto are the only two names most people recall, when asked about the illustrious sons.

The age-old cultural pattern had wellknown customs like vor, xim, xiro marunk, etc, which were in vogue during the grand weddings in yesteryears, have gradually lost their glitter except for the wedding portonnem. During the Sao Joao feast, however, the menfolk still reain the tradition of jumping the wells, through only in the Cushem ward, where the dalis (trays laden with fruits and bottle of feni) are being offered on the occasion of wedding or birth in the family to the Sao Joao revellers.

The Hindu community worships principally at Shri Sateri Panchayatan Praxn temple. According to “Hindu Temples and Deities” by Rui Gomes Pereira, "The deities of the island of Corjuem were transferred to Poira in the Bicholim. The main deity is Malambadevi Satpurusha, who has six affiliate temples. Its mahajans, divided into two groups, belong to the Vaisha and Sudra-Maratha classes.”

The Mae de Deus High School and the Corjuem Gymkhana Club, which was founded by the islanders in 1946, figure among the important institutions. As far as health care is concerned, the village has no resident doctor, but there is a Health Centre, with a regular nurse while the Doctor visits once a week. Hence Aldona, across the river, is the closest place for healthcare and in case of emergencies.

Farewell to ferries

Country-craft was the sole mode of primitive transport to and from the island until the flat-bottom ferries were introduced sometime around 1973. Unlike during the post-bridge days, the daily newspaper, fish, vegetables and virtually everything remained at the Aldona bazaar. The fisherwomen, however, used to move from house to house to sell prawns and fish caught at the various mannxio (dykes).

Way back in time, a band of robbers who had attacked the Aldona church, had landed at the Sinkere tar in Corjuem. A local legend says a small boy met the robbers and advised them to abandon their ill-conceived mission. The proceeded on adamantly only to be greeted by misfortune. Aldonkar womenfolk beat them black and blue and some of the infitrators lost their lives while those who jumped into the river to swim away got washed away.

Joel D’Souza

in Goacom

http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=104225

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