Written by Staci D’souza
Who are they?
Ranpis are proficient cooks who are an intrinsic part of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Goa. They are skilful cooks who prepare some of the best and most delicious vegetarian dishes with the help of ‘Aaitekar’ or helpers who get the minor work like chopping vegetables done.
If you visited or will visit some homes where the yearly Ganesh Chaturthi or ‘Chavath’ is celebrated; you may come across this particular person. All dressed up wearing a lungi and a sacred thread around his torso. Busy cooking in the kitchen. He is a very important person. Not only required during the festivities but also throughout the year.
Cooking for religious festivals is an activity mainly carried out by women. But, in many Goan homes, you will come across this male cook. He prepares food for several people in a jiffy. Cooking for a considerable number of people requires a lot of manpower to lift heavy vessels and stir with heavy spoons for a long time. Therefore, this could be the reason why men indulged in cooking.
Ranpis are usually Brahmins
These ‘ranpis’ who always dress up in their traditional attire are, predominantly Brahmins. They are entrusted with the job of cooking. Usually temple priests who don’t get a chance at education for various reasons, tend to join the clan of ‘ranpis’. Some ‘ranpis’ hail from the neighbouring state of Karnataka. Further, the Kumbhar community worked as ‘ranpis’, as their secondary profession, whenever required, . They mainly cooked for families of their own community.
Ranpis are difficult to come by now-a-days
Nowadays, ‘ranpis’ are almost extinct. The youngsters do not consider it an ideal profession as there is not much benefit to gain from it . They also need to have another profession by the side. Some ‘ranpis’ have their own catering business as cooking for so many people, going from house to house, can get hectic.
It is not a joke to be a ‘ranpi’ and cook a variety of dishes in large quantities within a few hours. One has to have a flair for cooking and do it with their whole heart and not just for the sake of it. ‘Ranpis’ make eating a delight!