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Writer and photographer Pantaleao Fernandes is all set to widen the understanding on the culture and heritage of Goa through his documentary titled ‘Untold Stories from Goa and India’. In conversation with NT BUZZ he talks about his documentary and some fading traditions of Goa

Untold Stories from Goa and India

 

SHERAS FERNANDES | NT BUZZ

Modern technology and amenities have made our lives easier and quicker. In the years gone by with not many facilities one would have to do work manually making him a master of his work. This was the way of living of our ancestors. Writer and photographer Pantaleao Fernandes will screen his documentary titled ‘Untold Stories from Goa and India’ which narrates the rich legacy of the yesteryears. Life then and now has changed owing to several reasons one possible reason is that; these occupations are not enough to sustain a family in modern times.

Pantaleao has preferred to make a documentary this time as he believes that audio-videos presentation is a better medium of explaining his work. Speaking more about his documentary he says: “Videos speak louder than pictures as the audience understands the topic clearly. Through this documentary I want the people to live the life I have lived in the past. The documentary includes three untold stories; two parts of the footage narrate the untold stories from Goa while the third part narrates a story from India. The first footage of five minutes is on ‘telacho-ghano’ that was traditionally used to extract oil; the second footage of 10 minutes is on the Christian mand, a sacred platform where women would get together to have meeting or a place to present dance performances. Even though this practice is extinct the culture is still alive in other forms. The third video of 12 minutes will tell the story of Pattachitra paintings from Pingla village of West Bengal which is an example of rare and detailed artwork.”

Since Pantaleao has spent most of his time exploring and documenting the rich culture and traditions of the villages in Goa, he feels the need to share his accumulated knowledge. Sharing his experience on the same he says: “Overall it is a learning experience as everyday is a day to learn something new. This encourages me to keep growing in this field. This also helps me in building a stronger relationship with people. Sometimes people are suspicious about me exploring their village. But I make it a point to clear their doubts,” says Pantaleao. Over the years several factors have contributed to people moving away from their traditional practices or have a transition in their way of living. Pantaleao has developed an interest in observing and noting the reasons for a switch to modern occupations. “Unlike other professions a traditional occupation does not pay much. Guirdolim, Macazana in Salcete was once the hub of grass mats locally known as ‘shenri’. Since the time people started moving abroad to seek better prospects many have switched to a modern way of living. Women would weave mats of the locally available grass along the banks of the river to meet their day to day expenses. After the male members started earning more the women did not feel that there was a need to continue weaving mats,” says Pantaleao. Speaking further about other possible reasons for people not following these occupations he says: “Some of these occupations don’t fetch a good market while other occupations are linked to a particular caste or community.”

While most people have practiced some traditional occupations out of choice, others follow in the footsteps of the elders to preserve the family tradition. “A widow from Siolim had acquired the skills of rope making from her parents and soon started her business of the same. She was into this profession out of choice as she wanted to use her skills. Rope making follows a standard process wherein the coconut coir has to be buried on the banks of the river. After a particular period, upon reaching maturity, the pit is dug and the coir is then used to make the ropes. Over the years with increasing mining operations and with open defecation along the river banks she started feeling disgusted and left this profession,” says Pantaleão.

He narrates another instance where a well qualified youth chose the profession of ‘chonekar’ (people who sell peanuts and grams) as it was a family tradition and he wanted to keep the legacy alive. “He was educated and wanted to get into this profession despite of his parents encouraging him to opt for another lucrative profession,” says Pantaleao.

Although documenting these occupations is not always easy Pantaleao is keen on following his passion to preserve, promote and document the rich Goan tradition. “Goa has so many stories that have died without being told. I want to tell people about our culture and tradition that they don’t know of,” says Pantaleão.

 

(MOG Sundays will organise a talk and documentary screening by Pantaleao Fernandes on the topic ‘Untold Stories from Goa and India’ on January 15 from 11 p.m. to 1 p.m. at MOG, Pilerne. The event is open to all.)

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