Monday, December 2, 2019

A popular Goan Folk Song

A popular Goan Folk Song

Tuesday December 3rd. is the Feast Day of the Apostle of the Indies, the greatest Catholic missionary of modern times, St. Francis Xavier. He is the patron saint of my country of origin, Goa, a small  former Portuguese enclave a little over 500 km. as the crow flies from Mumbai (formerly Bombay) because he played the leading role in establishing the Catholic faith in Goa.  I was born in Zanzibar and grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. I visited Goa only three times, as a three-year-old, as a teenager and as an adult. Hearing about Goa from my parents gave me an enduring love for the country, reinforced by my three visits. I am proud to be a Goan, proud of my people, their culture, way of life, traditions, even their superstitions and yes, their little foibles that distinguish them from their other Indian neighbours.

Growing up in Kenya, I became fluent in English, the official language and the language of instruction, and, to a lesser extent, Swahili, the lingua franca of a large part of East and Central Africa.My parents, who spoke Konkani fluently, spoke to my sisters and me only in English. When I visited Goa at the age of 16, I was distressed that I could not converse with my paternal grandmother as she only spoke amchi bhas, our language, Konkani. I set about trying to speak Konkani  but opportunities were few in Kenya where English was the dominant language of communication. To this day my Konkani is limited; after forty years in Canada, it is practically non-existent, to tell you the truth.

You can imagine my mixture of emotions when I first watched a video of Vocal Colours, a touring Swedish group, singing Konkani folk songs at a concert in Panaji, the capital of Goa, to the amazement and delight of the local populace! A few years ago, when touring Croatia with a largely Canadian group of 46, we astonished Croatians and Slovenians on several occasions with a very passable rendition of a popular Croatian song,O Marijana that we had rehearsed before setting foot in CroatiaHaving watched jaws drop in Croatia, I can just imagine how pleased and astonished my fellow-Goans were to hear to hear Swedes sing the popular Konkani folk song I  had heard my parents and their friends sing at every party from the time I was a child, Tamde RosaTuje Pole (Your cheeks are as red as roses).

After you have listened to these two Swedish singers and choir sing a Konkani song far better than I or most other Goans born outside Goa can, you may want to listen to my favourite Konkani singer, Gonzaga Coutinho, singing the same folk song at a concert in Portugal. Listen to him and you will realise just how very good those two young Swedes are!

Click on:    (Swedish Vocal Colours)  (Gonzaga Coutinho Goan group)

Wishing you all the blessings of St. Francis Xavier on December 3rd.,

Francis and Cybele

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