The Botanical Society of Goa (BSG), Panaji is best remembered by the people of Goa and the rest of the Konkan as well as tourists for its festivals: ‘Plant Utsav’ since 1998 and the ‘Konkan Fruit Fest’ since 2003. Those residing in Goa also have an opportunity to participate in the ‘All Goa Home Garden Competition’ that began in 1991 and has become an annual event since 1996. As a young garden superintendent at Goa University, I was roped in to be a judge at the BSG’s ‘Home Garden’ competition in September 1991, followed by a ‘Flower Festival’ at a city hotel in December 1991 and a ‘Plant Show’ at Kala Academy in February 1992. This was quite surprising for a susegad Goa.
In his obituary reference, former head of the Botany Department at Dhempe College, Miramar KG Hiremath shared the secret that the BSG was actually registered in May 1990, with Arvind G Untawale as president to lobby for the establishment of a post graduate department of Botany in the Goa University. In the seventh year of Goa University (established by an Act of the Government in 1985), the Department of Botany was finally created under the leadership of Padmakar Dubhashi as vice chancellor and SG Torney as the head of department borrowed from Parvatibai Chowgule College, Margao. I had the good fortune to meet MK Janarthanam and Bernard Rodrigues who joined as assistant professors of Botany in April 1992. BF Rodrigues is the man who helped create the ordinance to establish the first college of agriculture in Goa.
Former Deputy Director (BOD) at National Institute of Oceanography Arvind Untawale is best remembered as the ‘Mangrove Man’ in India. He worked tirelessly for the documentation and preservation of mangroves in India. His home at Dona Paula also served as the head office of the Mangrove Society of India (MSI) till he suddenly passed away on the morning of September 7. The MSI was suddenly left without its dynamo and had to re-engineer itself for its propulsion. The Botanical Society of Goa, on the other hand, had made a smooth transition because of its mandate that no executive post should be occupied by the same incumbents for more than two terms. There is a change at least every six years. Change is the only constant in life.
The BSG has been both the inspiration and the constant supporter of the annual ‘Festival of Plants and Flowers’ organised by the Green Heritage Eco Club of SFX School, Siolim that is affiliated to BSG. Started on August 15, 1992, this three-day festival has been held annually for the last 28 years, a record in Goa for any event. The Konkan Fruit Fest has the Corporation of the City of Panaji as the festival partner and it is indeed good to have Sanjit Rodrigues back at the CCP. The BSG has also published reports on it projects, the popular one being the ‘Sand Dune Vegetation of Goa: Conservation and Management’ co-authored by Kasturi Desai and Arvind Untawale, who are both no longer on this good Earth. It serves to remind us that we walk on the sands of time.