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Catholic musicians an integral part of Cuncolim Sontreo festival



Santan Pereira from Cuncolim along with his sons and other family members spread across from Velim to Navelim has been part of this traditional festival for many generations.

·         The Devasthan Committee and the Gauncars of the village honour these musicians and the role they play in the Sontreo festival and is appreciative of the present-day generation which is keeping the age-old tradition alive

 


















·         “Catholic musicians play traditional Dhol Tashe music at Sontreo festival, in fact the Sontreo festival kick-starts once they (Catholic musicians) reach Fatorpa,” says Vijaykumar Kopre Dessai, a teacher by profession and Gauncar of Cuncolim.

·         “In the morning session the Catholic musicians play music at Fatorpa and play continuous music from Fatorpa to Cuncolim, a 6-km route and which takes roughly two hours to reach Cuncolim, and back from Cuncolim to Fatorpa during the Palki procession, playing musical instruments, incluse, Dhol, Sner (Kash), bugle,” he adds.

·         Vijaykumar belongs to one of the twelve vangodds of Cuncolim, the Gauncars of Cuncolim, who have a hold over the running of affairs of Shree Shantadurga Kunkalikarin temple at Fatorpa.

·         “The Devasthan Committee and the twelve Gaonkars, representative of each of the 12 vangodds, honour these musicians and the role they play in the Sontreo festival and is appreciative of the present-day generation which is keeping the age-old tradition alive,” added Vijaykumar.

·         The colourful procession from Fatorpa to Cuncolim wends its way through hill and passes through the same old route by which the deity was brought to neighboring Fatorpa village by the Gauncars of Cuncolim in the face of Portuguese forceful conversion in Cuncolim and away from the lookout of the Portuguese.

 

 

 








By Armstrong Vaz

 

Most Goans have come across the terms like ‘Rang Tang, ‘Dhol Kash’ or ‘Dhol Tashe’, for the music and the musical instruments associated with it -- a peculiar beat of music which one hears during the maddi, novenas and feast day at Catholic festivals by the Catholic musicians.

But hold your breath in Cuncolim the Catholic musicians' call of duty goes beyond their faith. It is not only the chapels, churches and crosses where these musicians from Cuncolim perform but also at Hindu festivals of Cuncolim.

The recent Sontreo Festival which took place on Saturday is one of the many Hindu festivals that the Catholic musicians are associated with.  The festival of Sontreo, also known as Chatrotsav, held on the eve of Holi, the festival of colors, is linked to Shree Shantadurga Kunkalikarin temple in Fatorpa in Quepem taluka.

The deity is worshipped by Hindus and Catholics alike in Cuncolim, which represents truly a secular character and traditional communal harmony Of Goa with the catholic musicians playing a prominent role in that for the last many generations.

“Catholic musicians play traditional Dhol Tashe music at Sontreo festival, in fact the Sontreo festival kick-starts once they (Catholic musicians) reach Fatorpa,” says Vijaykumar Kopre Dessai, a teacher by profession and Gauncar of Cuncolim.

“In the morning session the Catholic musicians play music at Fatorpa and play continuous music from Fatorpa to Cuncolim, a 6-km route and which takes roughly two hours to reach Cuncolim, and back from Cuncolim to Fatorpa during the Palki procession, playing musical instruments, include, Dhol, Sner (Kash), bugle,” he adds.

Vijaykumar belongs to one of the twelve vangodds of Cuncolim, the Gauncars of Cuncolim, who have a hold over the running of affairs of Shree Shantadurga Kunkalikarin temple at Fatorpa.

“The Devasthan Committee and the twelve Gaonkars, representative of each of the 12 vangodds, honour these musicians and the role they play in the Sontreo festival and is appreciative of the present-day generation which is keeping the age-old tradition alive,” added Vijaykumar.

The colourful procession from Fatorpa to Cuncolim wends its way through hill and passes through the same old route by which the deity was brought to neighboring Fatorpa village by the Gauncars of Cuncolim in the face of Portuguese forceful conversion in Cuncolim and away from the lookout of the Portuguese.




Santan Pereira along with his sons and other family members spread across from Velim to Navelim has been part of this traditional festival for many generations.

“It is a special occasion for all of us. The preparation starts very early as we have to reach in time to set the tone for the celebration. It is a tiring and challenging route but all the compliments and the sheer joy of people dancing to the beats of the music along with the 12 Sontreos which keep us going every year,” said Santan, who is following his family tradition which he believes is for the last 150 years.

“It was compulsory to play during Fatorpa Umbrella festival due to earlier belief before conversion,” says Velim resident Lourenco Fatima Da Souza.

For the unknown, the procession starts from Fatorpa and wends its way through wards of Molanguinim, Biunsa, Voddy, a 6-km-long route which takes a couple of hours on foot to reach its the original place at Tolliebhatt in Cuncolim and on its return journey take the Markutt, Demani, Molanguinim route back to Fatorpa.

The idol is carried through hilly roads in an ornately decorated solid silver palanquin sheltered under 12 colourful silk umbrellas on tall poles of metal or carved wood, the 12 umbrellas representing the 12 Kshatriya vangodds (clans) of Cuncolim which are Mhal, Shetkar, Naik, Mongro, Sombro, Thombro, Porobhu, Sidhkali, Lokakali, Bandekar, Rovno and Benklo.

Besides the Catholic musicians many kshatriya converts still maintain a strong link with the Hindu brethren and the Hindu festivals and take part in Sontreo festival in full vigour one of them is Wendy Gomes.

“A few catholic Gauncars, make it a point to be present at Fatorpa at 12noon, on sontreo day every year, and I’m one of those, that's the time you get to meet everyone, the Mahars, the Jhulmis, the Gauncars, the committee, and witness the beats of drum before the Palki moves out for her annual visit to her original place Kunkoleem,” says Wendy a businessman, whose Tenth Vangood celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Health Church Cuncolim this year and whose father was the President of the feast celebrations.

Besides the 12 Kshatriya vangodds holding reins of the temple affairs in Fatorpa, the erstwhile Hindu connection of the Catholic is evident at the feast of Our Lady of Health Church in Cuncolim, with one of the 12 vangodds of Cuncolim celebrating the feast by rotation every year.

Explaining the role of the musicians ahead of the Our Lady of Health feast and  during the novenas and feast day Wendy adds: “They set the holy picture with mango branches and coconut leaves on the new branch on the Maddie tree followed by lighting the Fozne on non-time on Maddie day, playing the traditional music and a brief procession with the president through the market, the traditional route through which all procession of the church pass, followed by ‘Mhara Jevon’ a special meal for them by the president, then after the Maddie mass they escort the president to his residence in the evening.

“During Novenas days they play music and Foznes every morning and at amori (evening time) say at 5am, in the morning and at 7.00pm in the evening, and also music after both the Novena masses,” he adds.

The Shree Shantadurga Kunkalikaran temple lies amidst the greenery of the surrounding hills and is known for a big annual fair which falls in the month of Paus (December-January) from panchami to dosom which in fact, sets the tone of all zatras in other places in Goa.

The procession was forbidden by the Portuguese government at the request of Patriarch D. Antonio Sebastiao Valent. It was re-established after the Portuguese Republic was set up in 1910.

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