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Seminars on Goan Heritage held at C.E.S. College of Arts and Commerce, Cuncolim

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Report of the Seminar on "Goan Heritage" jointly organised on 14-9-2011 by C.E.S. College of Arts and Commerce, Cuncolim, and Goa Sudharop Community Development Inc. USA

A one-day seminar on 'Goan Heritage' was jointly organized by C.E.S. College of Arts and Commerce and Goa Sudharop Community Development Inc. in the audio-visual hall of the college. 192 students from 10 colleges namely Shree Malikarjun College, Canacona; Cuncolim United Higher Secondary, Cuncolim; PES College, Farmagudi; Fr Agnel College, Pilar; Government College, Pernem; Government College, Quepem; GVM’s College, Ponda; Rosary College, Navelim; Smt. Parvatibai Chowgule College, Margao; and C.E.S College, Cuncolim participated in the seminar. The seminar acquired special significance since it coincided with the silver jubilee celebrations of the College

In his welcome address, Principal of the College Prof. Dr Laximan G. Naik, provided a brief outline of the progress of the college down the years. He emphasized on the importance of self-respect and self-discipline and about developing one's talents and skills so as to ensure the progress and development of the nation at large. He stated that every student must inculcate in himself or herself a sense of nationalism and a basic love for one’s nation which was an essential pre-requisite for the growth of the nation.

With 48-odd years of professional experience, Mr. Ibonio D'Souza, Executive Director of Goa Sudharop spoke about the objectives of the organization and the purpose of this heritage seminar which is to give students an opportunity to explore the uniqueness of our rich Goan cultural, traditional and environmental heritage. Today's youth are the future guardians of Goan heritage, and such seminars help them understand why all of us need to value our heritage and how preserving it and living in harmony with our environment and with each other will positively impact our future as individuals and as a community. Stating that some of the younger generation sometimes feel that what happened in the past does not affect the present, he explained that the past was the main reason as to why we are in the present. He added, “We have to know the past so as to understand the present”. He focused on the desire of Goa Sudharop to develop a living partnership with individuals and groups in and outside Goa in order to help build a better Goa. He spoke of collaboration with citizen groups, non-Governmental organizations and civil society at large and also focused on the role of the younger generation in fulfilling this objective. The joint -coordinator of the seminar, Dr Sharon D'Cruz, introduced the guests and Prof. Teja Gaunekar and Dr. Sharon D'Cruz compered the programme.

In the first session Prof. Prajal Sakhardande, Assistant Professor of the Dept of History, Dhempe College and founder member of GHAG, spoke on the topic 'History Through Heritage’ wherein he gave a presentation with visuals of the pre-Portuguese, Portuguese and post-liberation history of Goa. His presentation depicted rare vestiges of living traditions as well as the natural and man-made or built heritage of Goa. Extending from geographical demarcations of Goa right up to yesterday's history, his presentation was a virtual depiction of Goa's past in a nutshell.

Dr. Bernadette Gomes, former Head of the Department of Sociology, Government College, Quepem spoke on the topic 'Tribal life and the heritage of Communal Harmony in Goa'. With interesting visuals, she enlightened the audience on different tribal practices. She also spoke of the communal harmony that has existed in the state of Goa for centuries amongst all its peoples including the tribals (Dhangars, Goulys and Velips), Muslims, Hindus and Christians. She presented several examples of shared beliefs and practices that were, and still are, prevalent among the different communities in Goa.

The third session was on 'The Architectural Legacy of Goa' by Eng. Jose Lourenco. Eng. Lourenco, a civil engineer by profession, made an interesting Powerpoint presentation wherein he explained the evolution of Goan architecture down the ages ranging from mud houses to rammed earth walls and modern stone and cement architecture. His presentation touched on various items of architectural interest like caves, religious structures, official buildings and residential houses thereby providing a brief history of the various styles of architecture that have evolved down the ages. Also interesting were the visuals he showed of interesting architectural structures designed by prominent architects like Ralino Souza, Rahul Deshpande, Gerard da Cunha, Charles Correia and Dean D'Cruz.

In the last presentation of the pre-lunch session, Ms. Maria Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues, Senior Librarian at the Central Library, Panaji, a prolific writer and researcher, spoke on the topic ‘Traditional Goan Foods'. She spoke about traditional foods that were consumed for breakfast, lunch and dinner by Goans belonging to different communities. She spoke of fruits and vegetables, like chillies, potatoes, cashews, etc. that were brought in to Goa by the Portuguese from different parts of the world, as well as of cooking styles and dishes that were also introduced then. She elaborated on the changing diet of Goans down the ages and stressed on the need to continue with traditionally healthy food habits.

After lunch, the fifth session was on 'Konkani literature and Goan music' by Prof. Cosma Fernandes, Head of the Dept. of Konkani, MES College, Zuarinagar wherein he spoke about the rich legacy of literature in our mother-tongue, Konkani. He spoke about several Goan writers and poets who wrote and published in Konkani. He also spoke on Goan music and presented interesting facts with visuals of the unique Goan folk-song and dance, the mando.

In the sixth session, well-known environmentalist Mr. Rajendra Kerkar spoke on ‘Environmental Heritage Biodiversity and Eco-festivals’ wherein he used several visual clippings to illustrate the importance of nature and the need to live in harmony with our environment. He focused on many eco-friendly traditions and festivals that were a part of our cultural heritage. He spoke about how scared groves, a tradition of our ancestors, helped to conserve nature in its pristine form. These were areas in each village that were revered through religious custom and not allowed to be unnecessarily touched, thus preserving several rare and unique species of flora and fauna. He explained how the mining lobby and builders are rashly destroying our beautiful state bytheir scant regard and understanding of our environmental heritage and of how we need to preserve our precious natural heritage.

In the last session Prof. Prajal Sakhardande spoke on 'Goan Identity' wherein he defined the various aspects of Goan identity, our language, culture, etc. Focusing on language as a big part of our identity, he made it clear that irrespective of the script, Romi or Devnagari, Konkani is our language and hence there should be no polarization or discord among Goans on the basis of language. He spoke about the importance of a Regional Plan for Goa and he condemned efforts to sabotage this plan and allow Goa's precious land to be grabbed by unscruplous builders. He lauded the efforts of the GHAG in undertaking a public agitation against the Plan with the intention of preserving the natural and built heritage of Goa. In order to protect our identity he emphasized on the urgent need to appeal to the Central Government to confer special status to Goa so that "we can remain a separate entity". He also highlighted the SEZ as being a threat to our natural and cultural identity and lauded the efforts of the movements against SEZ to help in preserving our land. Focusing on the younger generation he stated that students were the future pillars of Goa and each of them had powerful weapon that was their voting rights. He made it clear that students should judiciously and carefully exercise their votes so as to protect Goa and its rich and varied heritage.

The valedictory session was chaired by Principal Dr. Laximan G. Naik, Mr. Ibonio D'souza, Exec. Director, Goa Sudharop, Dr. Sarala Katageri, Co-ordinator of the seminar and Prof. Prajal Sakhardande. In the feed-back session, Mr. Gomes lauded the efforts of C.E.S. College and Goa Sudharop in taking the initiative to jpointly organize such a seminar that was the need of the hour. The student participants were awarded with certificates and Dr. Sarala Katageri proposed the vote of thanks.

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