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Goans remember Percival Noronha’s many contributions to Goa in various fields

Not many Goans are aware of all the work that Percival Noronha did towards the development of Goa.  The four lane road from Miramar to Dona Paula was his vision as was the planting of casuarina trees along the Campal-Miramar stretch. He was at the forefront of all activities, be it history, architecture, music, etc, and was invited to deliver lectures about Indo Portuguese history all over Europe. He was also instrumental in the introduction of the concept of studying houses of Goa through azulejos. Given that there was so much Christian art in Goa, he was also the founding member of the Museum of Christian Art at St Monica, Old Goa and personally restored a piece called ‘The Silver Pelican’. But he was always shy of the limelight, giving without expecting anything in return. While people have used his data for their work without giving him credit, he never took offence, saying that it was all about the sharing of knowledge.

After he retired as a government servant he founded the Association Of Friends Of Astronomy, Goa and was the first president. While today there are nine observatories to study the skies around Goa, the one started by the group at Junta House was the first. In fact it was the first in India. I first met Percival when I paid a visit to the public observatory. I was impressed with it and wanted to know who was behind these activities. We bonded over our shared love of astronomy and history. Given that there are few takers for astronomy, he was worried about the group continuing after he passed on. But I told him that as long as I was there, he had nothing to worry about. I also remember him telling me that ‘honest intentions begets honest results’. Our newly renovated public observatory, complete with a telescope dome, space museum, etc, will be inaugurated shortly and it is sad that he will not be there to see it.”

Satish Naik, President, Association Of Friends Of Astronomy, Goa

His contribution to Indo Portuguese history was immense. He dominated in almost all the fields; you could ask him on architecture, social history, personalities, etc, he knew most of the answers. A lot of people went to ask him their questions and he obliged most of them.”

Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues, Retired assistant state librarian

My impression of Percival Noronha is that he was a very knowledgeable and straightforward person. He always kept updated with the events that unrolled through all these years, maybe four or five decades now. He was a reliable writer and though he was educated in Portuguese, he was fluent in English as well. Information that he passed on to the public was reliable. I would say that he was one of the few who had done a lot of research on certain aspects of Goa’s history, especially church matters, and administration.”

Vasco Pinho,

Historian

He was a great support of the Xavier Centre and also a good scholar. The Xavier Centre was associated with him many a times and he would give us a good historical perspective on Goa. We will miss his intellectual presence in Goa. He was also a very prominent

figure for all the public lectures.”

Fr Anthony Da Silva,

Director, Xavier Centre of Historical Research (XCHR)

He has contributed so much to Goa and I am sure there are so many who have been inspired and educated by him. Percival Noronha- you made a huge difference and humongous contribution. Your voice shall inform many in the coming years as you informed those who came to learn the stories of the history of monuments, people, and the very soil of Goa. Earth was not enough for your hungry mind and so you turned to sky and inspired even more to engage with the mysteries of stars. May you find next what you may be looking for.”

Poonam Verma Mascarenhas,

Conservation architect

As an activist, Percival Noronha worked with great dedication to retain the heritage of Goa. A great chapter has now ended and a big void has been created with the death of this great man, who also incidentally happened to be the director of tourism in the post-Liberation era. It is due to his efforts and his team that a lot of heritage sites in Goa have been saved from being broken down – in particular the Mangueiral gate at Carambolim.  As a person, he was always helpful, he never said no to anyone. He was always ready to go to his shelf and give you anything you asked for. The signature thing about him was that when a visitor came to his house, he would throw the keys out from a window, and the visitor would have to unlock the door and enter. Goa was very, very passionate about him. He will be really sorely missed.”

Sanjeev V Sardesai, Historian

For me Percival Noronha will be greatly missed because he was not only a close friend but also a guide and mentor. Every time, I had a historical or cultural question I would go to him and he would help me out by answering it, his house was always open and he gave more than he was asked for. For eg,  If I asked him for a map of old Goa he would take out an old map from his cupboard and give it to me and ask me to keep it. And he was not only generous with his information, culture and persona, he was also generous with the treasures he had.  And it is a very sad day indeed today for me to hear about his passing away because we don’t have that level of person in Goa these days who can give so generously their time, knowledge, and their actual physical treasures. His contribution in Goa was on so many levels because he was so learned and because of his age and his memory. I asked him about a set of dolls for my first book ‘Moda Goa’ and he took me everywhere to search for those dolls and finally he found them in the Goa State Museum. I think he is a cultural icon and was also somebody who was very knowledgeable about many Goan cultural and historical matters.”

Wendell Rodricks, Fashion Designer

For many years, no walk through Fontainhas was ever complete without stopping to call out to dear Percival Noronha to drop his door keys into my hands, so I could enter and climb up to his books-and-papers-laden little apartment, for spirited conversation and constant fact-checking about our shared cultural history. Percival was a remarkable bridge figure between the last years of the Estado da India and the establishment of Goa as the smallest state in the Indian union, and a constant inspiration to me and countless others. Rest in peace, senhor. Salute!

Vivek Menezes, Writer

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