Purument or stocking up on provisions has been an age-old tradition in Goa. As times change, and uncertainty grips the state, this practice has come alive like never before
Stocking up on provisions for the monsoons has been a way of life of Goans for a very long time. In the past, due to heavy rains, no proper transport, and other hurdles, stocking up for the rainy days was a strictly adhered to custom. Today, while times have changed, the tradition carries on.
“It’s funny when I hear elders say they are doing ‘purument’ of food items for the rains. The rains aren’t like before, now everything is widely available and accessible,” says medical student Gideon Gracias Flor.
But then, old habits die hard. “It’s better to have stock at home than run to procure when it’s needed, or fret when you can’t procure it,” argues his aunt Bertha.
Among the food items that are stocked up are dried fish, rock salt, local onions, dried kokum, pickles, etc.
“The demand for ‘sukhi sungta’, dried fish, has risen. We’ve tried to keep the prices the same as people have had money issues already,” says a fish vendor who has been displaced because of the lockdown from her usual place in the Mapusa market and has been selling from the main street in the market and through direct contacts who reach out to her.
Usually (ie pre-pandemic), churches in Goa too, celebrate the Purumentache Fest with a large fair of such items, and the one at Holy Spirit Church, Margao always attracts huge crowds.
The Friday market in Mapusa also attracts people from all across the state and from Goans who would come home for holidays. “It was an annual affair to make a trip to Mapusa market on the last Friday before we returned to Pune. It’s the case with all Goans settled outside to make purchases that would last for a year and get Goan provisions that you find during this time,” says Joseph D’Souza from Mumbai.
Vinegar, jaggery, dried chillies, and beans top his list among other items that include a few seasonal fruits and vegetables.
The recent years saw people purchasing online and connecting with vendors/sellers on social media platforms from the comfort of their homes.
But since last year, people have been careful. With the pandemic came uncertainty and thus with the need to have everything within one’s reach and yet not move out unnecessarily, ‘purument’ has become important for many. “We can’t live in fear of whether there would be more cases and a lockdown and whether there will be availability of supplies. So, it’s important to stock up,” says Vidhya Nirawdekar.
And as we continue this age-old custom, it’s imperative to hail the vendors and the seniors in our society who’ve kept the ‘purument’ tradition alive.