Friday 24 May 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Culture | Literature

"Christmas in Goa is not complete without Hindus, and Chovoth without Christians"


Anwesha Singbal, Goa’s young writer, portrayed a real picture of Goa to the World while delivering her acceptance speech after receiving the most prestigious national Sahitya Academy Yuva Puraskar 2016.

This young writer, publisher and editor of a  fortnightly bagged the national award for her poetry collection “Sulus”.

She delivered the speech at an award function held at Agartala in Tripura.

Following is the whole text of her speech:

नमस्कार. गोंय, गोंयकार आनी कोंकणी मनश्याच्या वतीन तुमकां सगळ्यांक मना काळजांतसावन नमन करता आनी म्हजें उलोवप सुरू करता.

Respected Chair and Dear Friends, It is my honour and privilege to stand before you to pour out my feelings on an occasion that is very dear to all of us. Being recognised at a young age is indeed a very encouraging gesture and I am sure all of us must be going through a similar kind of feeling yesterday and today.

Friends, I come from the tiny state of Goa, a state that is often misunderstood than understood in the right sense. Goa is known for its Coconut trees, the bikini clad beaches and alcohol and food. That’s all. Thanks to our over enthusiastic Media and being an editor of a fortnightly and a part of this fraternity myself, I have a little moral authority to say this,

A foreigner’s rape in Goa becomes a national news, however the real Goa often remains hidden amongst the lush green mountains, the ever hospitable Goans and the rich culture and traditions that Goa has to offer. All that you hear as culture is हांव सायबा पलतडी वेता, म्हाका सायबा वाट दाखोय.

But friends, Goa can boast of not one and two but several folk traditions that change in a few kilometers from every next village in Goa. Same is the case with the Konkani language that changes its dialect every next village. That’s the richness and beauty of my Konkani, a language that managed to protect itself even after 450 years of Portuguese rule. It fought battles before Goa became free and continues to do so after Goa’s liberation, the reason why almost every Konkani writer in Goa is not just a writer but a fighter as the eminent Dnyanpeeth awardee in Konkani Ravindrabaab Kelekar often said.

I am proud that I belong to a legacy that makes me restless, a legacy that does not allow me to remain merely a writer, a legacy that expects me to protect my language not merely as a language but my identity. We Goans cannot be immediately recognized by the clothes we wear or our looks. It’s our language that differentiates us from others, it’s Konkani that makes us Goans probably the reason why we are a little extra proud and possessive about our language. But then this possessiveness never takes over our warmth and hospitality, probably the reason why anyone coming from outside and settling in Goa learns Konkani first.

Today in Goa we have a new dialect developing, the one that the several migrants in Goa speak and though there are still those who consider themselves outsiders, the majority of Goans have accepted them as one amongst us as long as they sink in the Goan ethos, and well, most often they do.

Friends, whenever we Goans speak Konkani outside or any outsider hears us speak Konkani; their first reaction is that ‘Konkani is a sweet language’. Our language is often termed नाकयां which means we speak from our nose (it’s nasal). The अनुस्वार has a very important role to play in our language and this अनुस्वार has a major role in our life too. Goans are as sweet as their language.

We are a small population which is advantageous as well as disadvantageous. I am sure the locals here and my friends from the North Eastern states will agree with this statement. As a smaller population, we are at a greater risk of getting extinct - both demographically and culturally. And hence, we as writers have a huge role to play. A role to preserve our culture and identity for the generations to come.

And though we all are moving towards being a global village and assimilating English and other foreign languages for our survival, there is no need to turn our back to our roots, my friends. Let us not fall in the trap of accepting English in the name of bread and butter and let us also not hate English in the name of preserving our language. I am sure there is a middle path, the path that helps us grow and not remain bonsais.

Friends, when I expressed my anger over how wrongly Goa is projected elsewhere, the anger is also pointed towards my own fraternity of writers, who project such Goa on the world map. Whether it might be the film writers in Bollywood or several novelists across the country, Goa’s mention is often made in the context of alcohol or beaches.

Have we ever heard about the rich cultural diversity and communal harmony that Goa represents? A Christmas in Goa is not complete till the Hindu brethren throng the Catholic houses and feast on bebinca, dodol, sorpotel and choris pav. And a Hindu’s Chovoth, or Chaturthi as you call it, isn’t complete till the Catholic brethren slurp the muga gathi and khatkhatem i.e. the traditional Goan vegetarian dishes made in the houses of Hindus during these festivities.


But well, I cannot blame someone else until my own writer fraternity in Goa takes up this responsibility and they have my friends. But then we are again a small population that is yet to tell its story to the world. Our literature is very slowly being translated and made available to others. And so our story is being slowly and steadily told to the World, the reason why I took this opportunity to make certain points to the August gathering here.

Friends, I have often felt that we, as writers, have a larger responsibility than anyone else. I sincerely feel that we should publish only if we feel someone should read us. If we are writing for our own sake or for our own pleasure, let us keep them to ourselves. But the moment we publish and lay our literature in the hands of others, we have a huge responsibility. We have a tool in our hands that can make or break thoughts. That can take others in a land of fantasy and yet keep them grounded to their soil. Let us make the best use of this tool.

We are living in an era where attempts have been made to strangulate our beliefs, attempts have been made to silence our thoughts and attempts are being made to put an end to our diversity. The only fraternity I look up to in such a situation is we writers, especially we the young writers who have the zeal and enthusiasm to take on anyone who comes in our way. I am sure together we can create a better future for generations to come.

Let us understand the bigger role that we have to play and come out of our cocoons to work in unison for a better tomorrow. Let me end my speech with a small poem of mine which goes as follows:

आदनांत बरी शिजिल्ली

खतखतीत कविता

घस्स करुन जेन्ना पानार पडटा

तेन्ना वासानच पोट भरता

कविता आपशीच रुचीक लागता.

(It means: When you pour out a fully cooked poem on a plate, Your hunger is fulfilled with the mere smell or fragrance of the poetry, the poem automatically tastes good.)

Let us all strive to spread this fragrance of fulfillment in the world.

Thank you one and all.

(Anwesha could also be personally contacted at is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

Total Comments :3

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carlos silva , kuwait

Goan Christians visit Goan Hindus house for Diwali and so on Goan Hindus visit Goan Christians House for Christmas and so on with Goan Muslims for EID. This is the Peace-Loving Culture of Goans. It is the BJP & Congress who plays with the religion and want to bring hatred among Goans. Why they always bring religion in politics? Goans in one voice must say to Congress & BJP “DON’T BRING RELIGION IN POLITICS – LET US LIVE IN PEACE”. I like Diwali as well as Eid and their other festivals and I also welcome them in my house for our Christian festivals.

Jack De Goan , Goa

Makes you feel more proud as Global Goan. Remember the times how we celebrated each other's festival n the sweets n warmth. Truly well inspiring speech for Goans n all Indians alike.. taking into account the current divide n rule due by mixing religion for political gains!. God bless you!

Eldon carlos , Kuwait