The island of Divar has held the tradition of celebrating ‘Bonderam’ close to their hearts. This festival is unique to the village. Many generations have taken part in the celebrations. Scores of Goans and tourists flock to the village to witness the festival and share the celebratory mood.
The word ‘Bonderam’ is derived from the Portuguese word ‘Bandeira’ which means flag. According to legend, during the Portuguese rule in Goa there were frequent fights between two sections of the Divar village, namely Sao Mathias and Piedade over property issues. These often led to violence and fights in the village.
Subsequently, the Portuguese introduced a system of demarcation of boundaries with flags. However, rival groups knocked down these flags with stones. Until recently, this stone throwing was commemorated by a ‘Fotash’, a toy weapon, made of hollow bamboo stem and berries. The berries were inserted into the bamboo stem and ‘fired’ at the enemy flag. This practice was discontinued as it was hazardous.
Today, the villagers pride themselves in keeping this age old tradition alive. Divar has six wards and each ward in the island has its own float. Different coloured flags, fixed atop bamboo stems are attached to their respective floats in a carnivally type of parade and tableaux with lots of music and traditional dances like the dekhni and dhalo etc. In 1983, the Bonderam was paraded around the village to set the boundaries of the four communidades of the island.
The festival is unique to the island and receives good amount of visitors. It is a celebration of unity among the villagers. Once foes and now friends. The story is truly inspiring.
Written by Marlon Moraes