Once again the Goenchem Festakar, Marius Fernandes in association with Prakash Kamat and many other volunteers including Tania Shirodkar and the Brothers of Montfort Academy, Corlim, Tiswadi, Old Goa, is back with yet another season of celebrating Goa, its amazing people, culture, heritage, food, music etc. with his exciting Festivals. The first on the list this season is the Ambeachem Fest or Mango Fest. This Fest will be hosted at the Montfort Academy on 8th May 2022 at 11 am sharp with a demonstrative removal of ‘benol’ (Konkani for the parasitic plant that grows on the mango trees).
The Fest has many attractions and promises to be very satisfying educationally and tummy-wise. It begins at 11 am sharp and ends at 3 pm. The purpose of the Ambeachem Fest is to celebrate the Goan mangoes by learning to graft, grow, preserve, cultivate and use Mangoes in different ways while also emphasizing the need to preserve our mango heritage for posterity. Our youth must be aware of their heritage and learn to preserve it before our mangoes become extinct, stated Marius.
A special mention here about Montfort Academy – Besides providing technical education to the youth of Goa they have also been helping Goans around the world with free service, especially those Goans living abroad facing problems and wanting to return to their homeland.
This Ambeachem Fest is special in many ways :
- It is the 50th Festival by Marius Fernandes. Half a century and counting! (Marius promises many more to come.)
- It is the first Festival that is completely inclusive i.e. a festival that not only includes the specially-abled people, be they visually impaired, physically disabled, autistic, marginalised, sick etc. but also provides additional facilities for them. The idea of inclusivity is that all can be together. Special emphasis is also being laid on empowering them economically. On display at the Fest will be items of art, craft and food prepared by these people for sale. Helping them to help themselves!
- Thirdly, the aim of this Mango Festival is to educate people on the preservation and advancement of the Mango plant via live demos of grafting techniques etc. Marius strongly opines that our Goan Youth must be trained to carry our heritage forward and so the emphasis will be to involve the youth as far as possible.
- Another important feature of this festival will be the handing over of the Ghumot, Goa’s state musical instrument, to the girl child. Earlier, the Ghumot was played by men, but Marius with the help of Ghumot instructor Pranil Karanjalkar conducted a workshop for girls on playing the Ghumot. Calling them GGGG – The Goa Girls Ghumot Group, they will perform at the Ambeachem Fest to set a world record as the only group of five or more girls to play the Ghumot at a time. All this is to promote Goa’s unique state musical instrument, the Ghumot. (Goa is the only state in the entire country to have a state musical instrument).
- Experts, Scientists with other professionals are present at the venue to answer questions about the Mango.
- All the Fest organised by Marius so far have No Sponsors, No Alcohol, No Chief Guests, and No Plastics.
Marius Fernandes, in the Press Conference held on 30th April 2022, mentioned that Goa has around 60 – 70 indigenous varieties of mangoes. Out of these many are almost extinct or cannot be seen or heard of. What is available in the markets are only 5 or 6 of the varieties. One such variety is the Mancurad, which is considered the king of the Goan mango, due to its unique flavour, texture and colour. This variety is very highly-priced in the market today as the supply is less than the demand. Other varieties like the Bishop etc. are almost extinct. Many of the mango names we hear of are those that are being brought into Goa from outside eg. Kesari, Badami etc. Our Goan mangoes are vanishing.
The Ambeachem Fest will focus on the care and conservation of the Mango Tree, including the removal of ‘Benol’ (parasitic plants that grow on mango trees and cause them to die), at regular intervals with a mango grafting session by Mrs Priyanka Naik.
There will be a Balcaocho Gozzali (balcony banter) under a mango tree with Miguel Braganza (Trained horticulturist turned Organic Agriculture and Participatory Guarantee System [PGS] promoter and former Goa Agriculture Officer) and language instructor and TV Anchor Gwenn Gomes. This will be followed by a walk and talk around a Mango Tree by Dr Maryanne Lobo (Health Coach | Balance Nutritionist | Natural Fertility specialist | Nature Lover | Agroforestry Consultancy). ICAR, Ela, and Old Goa will be displaying mango samples to taste and Mrs Sunethra Talaulikar will demonstrate several dishes of sweets and drinks made of mango.
Besides there will be activities like caricature and fun shop by well-known cartoonist Alexyz, molla making, rotesao and stringing of flower garland with abolim. Also products and skills of persons with disability including those with low vision, autism etc. will be on display. Available at the venue will be a variety of mangoes, mango products, mango grafts, and local home-cooked mango-based Goan food on sale.
Rounding the festival off will be a special programme called Ghumtacho Nazz led by Dr Glenis Mendonca and percussionist Inacio Madeira.
A Helpline Advisory has been set up by the Goa Police for Senior Citizens and people with disabilities. They will have a stall at the venue for enquiries. The helpline number – 1121090 is for senior citizens. All senior citizens can call for help at any time by dialling this number. A WhatsApp number 7875756000 has also been introduced for the specially-abled people who can’t speak or cant call.
Be prepared to have a Mango-rollicking time. Bring your Kottieo (dry coconut shells) and Ghumots and tap to the beats of the famous Goan song ‘Channaichem Rati.’
Other Fests in the Pipeline are:
- Ambeachem Fest (Mango Festival) on 14/5/22 (Saturday) at Caculo Mall from 10 am – 9 pm.
- Ostoreachem Fest (Women’s Festival) on 22/5/22 (Sunday) at Dhakanem, Madkai from 11 am – 3 pm
- Purumentachem Fest (Stocking up Festival before the monsoon) on 28 – 29/5/22 (Saturday, Sunday) at Caculo Mall, Panaji
- Ponsachem Fest (Jackfruit Festival) on 24/6/22 (Friday) at Illhas, Old Goa
- Avoyanchem Fest (Mother’s Festival) on 24/9/22 (Thursday) at St. Mathias, Divar from 11 am to 3 pm