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!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sobit Carambolim

CAROMBOLIM: A VILLAGE ON THE MOVE Joel D'Souza

CARAMBOLIM or Karmali, the village with lush, fertile paddy fields, with a largely agrarian population, possesses historical firsts in the religious sphere besides the world famous wetlands known for a variety of wintering birds.

A progressive landmark
Hitherto, Carambolim, about 14 km from Panjim and just about 2 km from the Old Goa pilgrim centre, had remained largely unheard and unseen. The Konkani Railway, however, has brought the once sleepy, rustic village within sight of development hosting as it does Goa's third important station of the Konkan Railway. Karmali or Kormbolle for the locals, is probably one of the best known places in Goa, because thousands of tourists get a glimpse of its natural grandeur today.

Since Goa’s Liberation the local agriculture suffered a major setback, having changed hands from the management of the Comunidade to the 'deemed' owners following the enaction of the Land to the Tiller legislation. Once considered a paddy granary of the taluka, the harvest has been diminishing due to the fertile fields suffering inundation time and again.

Goa's birding hot-spot
Goans, however, are blissfully unaware that the 72-hectare Carambolim lake is a major spot on the international birding map, and highly frequented by European tourists. Several species of exotic, migratory birds have been flocking to the Carambolim lake for hundreds of years, attracted by the verdant landscape and quiet, incredible charm of the picturesque wetland.

Writes Clive Harris, in his trip report of November 14-21, 1998: charris@worldbank.org: "I saw more birders than at any other location in India - even than on my visits to Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur... On November 16, I jumped into a taxi and headed off to Carambolim Lake, a good site for waterbirds. One treat was a Laggar Falcon making attempts at catching a Little Ccoromant. The village, south of the lake, has a stake-out for an unusual Saxicola species that is thought to be a Stoliczar's Bush-cat."

The destructive weed
Bird lovers, however, are saddened by the fact that the melodious sound of birdcall is gradually reducing. As environmental researcher Nandkumar Kamat says, "Carambolim lake and many such lakes and freshwater eco-systems in Goa today face serious problems, due to the mismanagement of these community-owned lakes by the people themselves who were traditionally maintaining these water bodies, since the advent of the government subsidies."

Since 1995, the vicious Salvinia Molesta, an aquatic weed, has "made a disturbing ingress in the panoramic Carambolim lake and one wonders whether the measures taken by the authorities are adequate to meet the challenge posed by the weed to the very survival of the lake, the well-known habitat of rare birds". Kamat suggests the release of salt water from Cumbharjua canal into the lake from the sluice gate under the road, to destroy the unwanted weeds. Kamat also opines that "the full organic load could be drained out into the Cumbharjua canal through the sluice gates at low tide". In an attempt to save the lake some non-governmental organisations recently help clear away more than 30 truck loads of the weed.

Pages in History
The ancient temples of Carambolim were of deties like Betall, Sidnatha, Gram-Purusha, Khetrapall, Ravalnatha, Santeri, Ganesha, Vanavdevta, Butapriadhar, Fondde-Gaosalo-purusha, Kunbi-purusha, Brahman-purusha and Nirvaocipurusha, according to Rui Gomes Pereira (Hindu Temples and Deities). The only temple in Goa dedicated to Lord Brahma is believed to have been constructed in the 5th century, AD.

The Divar island and Carambolim village were the two prominent places near Old Goa, where the first mass baptisms or conversions to Christianity were effected. According to Antonio Victor Couto, the general baptism took place on June 24, 1560, in which 14 ganvkar families received baptism. Rather than lose their estates, the households yielded to conversion. But a large section of devout Hindus escaped the religious intolerance. They took the image of Lord Brahma to Kormoli in the Satari taluka.

Historical records left behind by Gabriel Saldanha state that some centuries ago the carcasses of four elephants, which had drowned in the vast lake, caused an epidemic, which virtually decimated the village. Those that escaped the village then are said to be the families like Barros in Velim, Viegas in Carmona, Lobos in Aldona and Calangute, and Afonsos in Santo Estevam.

Carambolim Church and first priest
Carambolim's age-old church dedicated to St John was originally a chapel figuring among those built before 1541. It was raised to church status during the tenure of Bishop D Joao Albuquerque in 1553. However, by 1542 the Church was demolished and a bigger one was raised sometime in 1714.

Andre Vaz, a son of the village and a brilliant student of the College of St Paul and later a Latin Professor, was first Goan priest, who later become the first priest of Goa. He was ordained by Dom Joao Nunes Barreto in Chorao’s St Jerome seminary, his first mass on May 19, 1558, at the College of St Paul. He was instrumental in spreading the Christian faith to the villagers of Carambolim, where he was named the first parish priest.

Under the leadership of the present parish priest, Fr Lino de Sa, plans are afoot to raise funds from generous sons and daughters of the village as well as kind-hearted Goans to convert the church from decrepit an old monument into a respectable place of worship through renovation and conservation.

Along the rail route
The length of the line from Bombay to Mangalore along the west coast is to be 760 Kilometres and out of that 106 Kilometres line runs through the State of Goa. The Konkan Railway is the biggest railway project undertaken in the Indian sub-continent in the present century. The project commenced on October 15,1990 and the Government of Goa approved the alignment passing through the State of Goa on December 17, 1990.

On the social plane, benevolent institutions are pitching in with their efforts to make life less worrisome for the less previleged villagers. Among these the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity belong to Mother Teresa's institution, render yeoman service.

The village, where child marriage were prevalent once upon a time, has undergone another strange phenomenon. Since the gavddas, who were converted to Christianity did not receive good treatment for the landed gentry, they reconverted themselves to Hinduism around 1926. Hence here we find people of the Nav Hindu denomination, some of whom possess Catholic surnames. The younger folk, particularly girls, are seen today heading for the nearby Corlim Industrial Estate, where they find employment.

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