By Steve Antao
The coconut tree is a symbol of Goan culture and Goan tradition. The various gifts and benefits that the tree offers from its bounty to people in Goa are numerous. From the actual coconut nut to the nutritious tender coconut water, to the coconut palm leaves that are used to make roofing sheets for houses and shacks. The list goes on and on and on. Also, since ancient times, hundreds of Goans have been in several occupations related to coconuts such as coconut plucking, toddy tapping, and various others. In a bid to pay tribute to the coconut tree and to all those who are into occupations related to the coconut tree, Mr. Erwin Fonseca, an agriculturalist from Assagao got together with Tanya Carvalho Fernandes, the owner of Edricia Farm, Siolim and famed Goan cartoonist Alexyz (also from Siolim) and decided to organise an event celebrating the iconic coconut tree. After much planning since the month of August, they are finally ready to host the event, which is due to be held this Sunday, 15th October 2023 at Tanya’s Edricia Farm, The Space at Bamon Vaddo in Siolim.
Highlights of the Event
The event, scheduled from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, will be inaugurated by cartoonist Alexyz. A multitude of activities will take place at the event, including workshops on coconut palm weaving, basket making using coconut palm leaves, clay moulding, and broom making using coconut leaves. Numerous stalls at the event will sell products crafted from coconut shells and leaves, and food stalls at the event will offer various dishes and drinks made using coconut. Talks on the coconut tree and its applications, along with a painting exhibition with a theme centred around coconuts, are also planned. Live music performances by prominent Goan musicians, singing songs related to the coconut and the coconut tree, will add musical charm to the event.
The Idea Behind Organizing the Event
Erwin Fonseca had contemplated the idea of organising a coconut festival for seven years, but his efforts to pitch the concept to others were met with indifference. However, as his Assagao organic farm marked its 10th anniversary, he decided to revive the concept. Fate intervened when he crossed paths with Tanya from Edricia Farm just recently in August this year. Upon sharing his idea with her, she enthusiastically embraced it and began working on it immediately.
For Erwin, there are three main reasons for organising this event. First and foremost, it offers an opportunity to celebrate World Coconut Day (which is traditionally observed globally on 2nd September every year) in Siolim in the village’s distinctive style. Second, it serves as a platform to raise awareness about the need for preserving the natural beauty of Siolim which is under threat due to a rise in the number of construction projects in the village. Lastly, the festival serves as a platform to shed light on the profound importance of the coconut tree and the imperative of safeguarding and conserving this invaluable resource.
Tanya Fernandes, the owner of Edricia Farm-The Space, Siolim where the event will take place explains that the place was earlier a dairy farm run by her late father for nearly 3 decades. However, due to challenges in sourcing proper food for the cows, she decided to close the dairy farm seven years ago and converted it into an organic farm. Initially cultivating various types of organic vegetables, she later expanded to hosting workshops on organic farming, yoga, and art at the place. The farm also provided space for local women to conduct workshops related to coconuts, such as weaving coconut leaves (known as “mollam-making” in Konkani) and making brooms from coconut leaves.
And so, in August this year, when Erwin discovered Tanya’s farm and pitched to her the idea of having a day dedicated to celebrating coconuts and the coconut tree, together with Erwin, Tanya began planning for the event. Goan cartoonist Alexyz, a native of Siolim village, joined the effort and contributed to the design of the festival’s invite as well as the flyer detailing the list of various festivities due to be held at the event. He also approached many well-known musicians from Goa and got them on board to perform at the event. Among these are Agnelo Fernandes, who will be performing the opening act from 3 pm onwards, famous Goan percussionist Carlos Gonsalves who has performed at high-profile events like the IPL, and Selvyn, a talented singer from Siolim. They will all be singing songs about the coconut tree, accompanied by music created using kottis or coconut shells. Apart from this, Alexyz will also be holding an art exhibition related to coconuts at the event. The exhibition will feature artwork done by him and several other famed artists.
A Tribute to Coconut Pluckers
Tanya emphasises that the celebration on the 15th of October aims to support and appreciate the work of coconut pluckers, toddy tappers, and all individuals whose livelihoods are intertwined with the coconut tree. Many coconut pluckers have faced injuries and hardships in their work, but their dedication to this occupation is unwavering. Tanya notes the vital role that coconut pluckers play in the community and how their efforts often go unnoticed. To pay tribute to the work done by them, the organizers have decided that the guests of honour at the event will be the coconut pluckers of the village.
Tanya’s Warm Invitation
Tanya warmly invites everyone, especially the youth of Goa, to her farm on the 15th of October, to join in the celebrations. She is excited to host numerous talented coconut artists at the event, who will be showcasing their exquisite creations made from coconuts. These artists include soap makers who use coconut as their primary ingredient, as well as other traders selling a wide array of coconut-derived products including carpets, ropes, and mats.
Visitors can also indulge in live demonstrations, observing the skilled techniques of toddy tapping and coconut harvesting, both performed manually and with advanced machinery. Furthermore, the festival will host enlightening sessions on coconut tree health and disease control by various industry experts. As a special highlight, the event will witness the release of an e-book authored by Frederick Noronha, adding an intellectual layer to the festivities.
With an abundance of coconut-infused products, lively demonstrations, informative sessions, and creative showcases, the coconut tree celebration at Edricia Farm-The Space, Siolim promises an enriching and enjoyable experience for all attendees. So mark your calendars and head to Siolim this Sunday to experience an amazing celebration of the coconut tree you have never seen before.
See you there!