Awareness of Goan state emblems and official characters

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Sanjeev V Sardesai

In the world of marketing, every company or establishment that promotes a product is identified with a signature company icon, which we call as their brand logo. So also, the nations all over this globe are represented by a flag through which we can identify the country.

In a similar manner, every state of the Union of India, has adopted a crest to identify their respective states, and furthermore have identified a certain animal, plant, and others objects to highlight their own lands and resources. Goa too has its own crest or logo or symbols and a set of resources are identified as Goa’s official state characters.

But let us first appraise ourselves with the national symbols. The National Flag of India is the Tricolour; the National Emblem is the Four Lions capital of the Ashok Stambh; the National Motto is ‘Satyameva jayate’ meaning ‘Truth alone triumphs’; the National Anthem is ‘Jana Gana Mana’, while the National Song is ‘Vande Mataram’. The Bengal Tiger is the National Animal, while the Indian Elephant is the ‘National Heritage Animal; the National Tree is the Indian Banyan Tree, while lotus is the National Flower. The mango is the National Fruit, while the National Vegetable is the pumpkin. The National River is The Ganges. The National Aquatic Animal is the South Asian River Dolphin and the National Reptile is the King Cobra. We are aware that the peacock is the National Bird of India; and due to the progress of virtual media, it is surprising to get to know that whenever this National Bird is found dead, it has to be given a Guard of Honour by the local police guard, before carrying out its final rites.

Similarly, Goa too has features and symbols, and it is our bounden duty to be aware of these official symbols, which identify with our Goa State.

The Goa state logo was conceptualised, when Goa was upgraded to the 25th State of the Union of India on May 30, 1987. This logo was accepted after the Department of Information & Publicity had a competition seeking designs for the same.

The State Emblem was selected incorporating the traditional Goan five cup brass or pottery oil lamp – the Divaj or ‘Vriksha-Deep’, in the centre, with illuminating rays radiating away in a halo, suggesting all round glory, knowledge and enlightenment in many sectors. These outward rays are artistically shaped as eight points, as on a magnetic compass, to represent the leaves of the abundantly found coconut palms.

While the identity of the state government is embossed in Roman Script, in a semi-circle, under this lamp and radiating light, it is flanked with a Sanskrit language notation or ‘Subhashitt’ (wise saying), from above in a semi-circle written in Devnagri script, which reads ‘Sarve bhadrani pashyantu ma kaschid dukhamapnuyat’ meaning ‘May everyone see goodness, may none suffer any pain’. This design is topped with the notified Sarnath Pillar Lions symbol, and a motto ‘Satyameva Jayate’ below. This entire composition is held aloft on two open hands representing a collective effort of the people of Goa, to hold aloft these valued principles of progress.

The State Animal of Goa is the Indian Bison or ‘Bos gaurus’ or the ‘Gavo Reddo’. This animal is rightly selected to display the strength of the land with its warm people and a wealth of rich, unique heritage and bountiful nature. Found a plenty in the lower regions of the Western Ghats or the Sahayadri ranges, it is a very docile animal, until threatened. This animal is very muscular and strong and grows to a huge height, almost over the height of an average tall car and weighs a ton or two. In case such an animal is seen crossing a road in the hinterlands or is seen grazing in the forests, care should be taken to avoid any confrontation to avoid fatalities, as the animal may feel challenged and attack. One can safely see this majestic animal in the enclosure of Bondla Wildlife sanctuary. This animal, the Gaur, is also the logo of the leading FC Goa Football Team. Surprisingly Goa also shares this animal ‘Bos gaurus’ as the State Animal with Bihar.

The State Bird of Goa is the rarely seen Ruby or Flame Throated Yellow Bulbul or ‘Pycnonotus melanicteris gularis’. Out of the twelve species of bulbuls found all over India, this specific bird, is endemic to the hinterlands of Goa, below the Western Ghats. It is extremely rarely seen towards the urban side of the State.

The State Fish of Goa is ‘Mugali cephalus’ or the striped grey mullet, locally called as ‘Shenvtto’. This is an extremely abundant species of fish found in tropical coastal waters and is a looked forward delicacy in seafood preparations in Goan homes. It is said that this fish lives up to an age of approximately 25 years and attains maturity after nine years for a male and 11 years for a female fish. It lays it’s eggs in the sea between January to April.

The State Tree of Goa is the Terminalia tomentosa (crenulata) which is commonly known as the ‘Crocodile Bark tree’ since its bark resembles the scaly skin of a crocodile. Locally this tree is identified as the ‘Matti Tree’, and its wood was traditionally used to make furniture in homes, and for window and door frames. One very interesting feature of this tree is that it stores a huge quantity of potable or drinking water in its bowels, just like the Baobab Tree in the Sahara Desert. Possibly it was this factor that shortlisted it among other trees in Goa to take the podium.

Interestingly, a couple of years ago, to pacify the demand of Goans, the coconut palm was declared as Goa’s Official Heritage Tree. The coconut palm is a universal resident, growing near the shores, and is not found in hinterland regions of India. When its fruit ripens, they fall into the sea and are carried away by currents to faraway shores, where they take root and grow.

The ‘divaj’ or the traditional pottery made five armed oil lamp, used by ladies for temple rituals, finds a place as the Official Handicraft of Goa. Many of us pass the beautiful sculpture of the lady, at the start of the Ribandar Causeway at Panaji, but fail to notice this ‘divaj’ on her head. Today the pottery is being replaced with brass ‘divaj’ in temple rituals, and this is affecting the livelihood of the traditional potters in Goa.

Football, a game related to Goa, since the Portuguese era, is declared as the Official Sport of Goa. Goa has created many niches of fame in men’s as well as women’s categories of this game, to win prestigious laurels for the State. Goa once hosted the AIFF recognised Bandodkar Gold Trophy Football Tournament, which prided itself as bestowing the most expensive gold trophy on the winners. As per the official value declared by the Directorate of Sports & Youth Affairs in 1972, the value of this gold trophy was `4.4 Lakh, when gold prices were approximately `176 per 10 grams. However, over time, the monetary assessment of this trophy has magically been devalued to a nonentity.

After sustained efforts of likeminded Goans, the Government of Goa declared the ghumat with the she-goat skin as the Official State Heritage Musical Instrument of Goa. Originally, this specially made mud pot, with two openings at either side, was covered with a skin of a monitor lizard at one end, while the other was open. However, since the monitor lizard was declared as an endangered species by the governments and world wildlife communities, this secular ancient musical instrument of Goa, used in Hindu aartis, Christian mando/ jagor and Kunbi festivals, could not be used officially, especially across international borders. But after the playing surface was changed to an alternate one, the international borders have opened up for our beloved ghumat to take its place among the traditional musical instruments of the world.