The mango, the King of Fruit, is an important component of the Goan culture. Summer in Goa isn't complete without juicy mango slices served with the traditional "xitt kodi." Every year, our fellow Goans join together in unity and with a strong initiative to commemorate the 'Ambeachem Fest' in full swing to celebrate the delight of mangoes.
The festival was held at the Montfort Academy in Corlim, Goa, which began at 11:00 a.m. However, the stalls were set up around 10:30 a.m. The audience, youngsters, participants, and volunteers were all in good spirits, with Goan folk music playing to set the tone for the festival. With painted mangoes on their faces, they gathered around with their props, and prepared for the occasion to display communal solidarity.
Volunteers from the community greeted guests with a slice of seasoned raw mango with a spicy Goan twist as they paraded into the 'Electrician workshop,' where Mr. Gawde, a faculty member of Montfort Academy, briefed the audience on what they had to offer for the Youth. DGP Jaspal Singh, an esteemed dignitary in our midst, was invited by Miss Taniya Shirodkar, to deliver a few words. Following which, everyone marched outdoors under the mango tree for the next festivities. Sir Marius Fernandes then explains what the festival is all about and how important it is. He went on to say that this event was organized by and for the community. There were no special guests, no drinks, no prizes, and no sponsors.
In honor of International Mother's Day, Miss Gwen, a strong single mother, was invited to speak about parenthood from her perspective and experience. She then shared conversation with Dr. Miguel Braganza, a mango tree enthusiast, about the quality and diversity of mangoes available. He also described a demonstration of the 'bendol' removal, which is a required step to be taken for the mango trees. "The young of Goa would rather engage in white collar occupations than get their hands filthy in the soil," he says. He further added that the youth should not feel ashamed of working to maintain the Goan way of life because, unlike criticism, admiration in Goa is limited.
As mentioned by the host, Mr. Joed Almeida, DGP Jaspal Singh congratulated all the athletes from the especially abled community. The host introduced Dr. Maryanne Lobo who enthusiastically continued the programme by imparting her knowledge of the benefits of mango leaves. She went on to list the various health benefits of mango leaves. "Mango is a part of every celebration since it is regarded to be a blessed plant after the coconut", she said.
The event continued by a procession to the next venue, led by a group of young and old women who danced the Goan 'kotti' dance and sang traditional Goan folk songs. At the venue, there were stalls of Authentic Goan masalas, a variety of mangoes, handcrafted Goan delicacies, Goan handicrafts, antiquities, and much more. After 61 years, 25 women were given the opportunity to play the Goan state instrument, the "Ghumott," accompanied by Ma’am Shakuntala Bharne and a few other professional musicians. Mr. Marius assures the crowd that the Ghumotts at the occasion were completely legal after the community helped save 5,000 monitor lizards. After these few words by him, the troop, continues the show by singing a song about their love for Goa and the Ghumott. The dancers and audience then joined together in unison. The blood and mud of Goa and Goans are reflected in this tune and their spirit.
A brief presentation by Mrs. Priyanka Naik on mango grafting and its many undiscovered yet incredibly beneficial advantages. Followed by an absolutely stunning dance performance by energetic women kept the show going, who were accompanied by a bunch of bright young talent who sang a song to their dance beats. To commemorate this historic day, all of the community members cut a cake and added sweetness to the occasion, which was followed by a vote of thanks from the host, Mr. Joed Almeida, who praised the volunteers' time and effort, particularly the organiser and curator, Mr. Marius. The event was then brought to a musical conclusion with the singing of the traditional Goan “mando” and the much-loved sport of football.
This event provided an excellent opportunity to highlight local businesses and learn about how they operate on a daily basis. Hearing about their experiences, hard effort, and time invested in all of this contributed to the fantastic results was witnessed throughout the event. As there were many tourists seen during the festival, it provides them an overview of Goan tradition, culture, cuisine, and community. Tourists enjoy the celebrations for what they are, experiencing Goan tradition and culture in its purest form. It is empowering to realise that a tiny initiative, a small concept can grow into something significant, allowing Goans and local businesses to be seen and thrive.
The events such as the “Ambeachem Fest” provide a stage, an opportunity to showcase what Goa and Goans have to offer. It shows what Goans and their local businesses are capable of. This spirit of the Goans and their hardwork portrays great backing to all the upcoming local businesses, to take a stand and make a change. Being a part of this event demonstrated to us that working together may save the Goan way of life, tradition, and culture. The youth must be the future of maintaining and preserving this very authentic Goa which has been passed down to us by our forefathers, and learning from their lives what it is to be a Goan, to live a Goan life, and to love Goa for what it is.