Goa Liberation Day is marked as a crucial day in the calendars of Goans who celebrate it with immense pride and joy. We spoke to a few Goans about their festivity and they went on a nostalgic ride sharing the fond memories attached to the day.
Priyanka Uday Kudtarkar gets goosebumps as she talks about celebrating Goa Liberation Day back in her school days. She remembers students standing row-wise as per their classes in front of the flagpole and the headmaster hoisting the tricolour which would be followed by the national anthem and other patriotic songs sung by students. Right after the speech of the head of the institution, the students would stand group-wise to do the marchpast which Kudtarkar mentions were the days to remember.
While the whole of India celebrated its 76th year of independence recently, Goa is celebrating its 61st year of liberation from Portuguese rule this year. As history goes, the Portuguese did not free India even after talks and requests by the Indian government post-1947 until the Indian military had to take the action on the orders of the former Prime Minister, Dr. Jawaharlal Nehru naming it, ‘Operation Vijay’. Finally, it was on December 19, 1961, when Goa received independence from the 450-year Portuguese rule, fourteen years after the country became independent.
The difference in time could never create disparities in the ways of celebrating Independence Day, however, Goans have been uniquely rejoicing the day for it being a medium to highlight their culture too. As Priyanka Kudtarkar shares, there would be various cultural programmes held in her school and students would participate in different forms of drills and parades depicting the culture of Goa. “We would dress up as different characters like fishermen, fisherwomen, farmers, church’s father, priest, and perform small acts to show how united Goans are,” the Pernem resident says.
Kudtarkar, who is now a Software Engineer might have left her school and college days behind but has been active in participating in the Liberation Day celebrations in her locality. She makes sure to visit the local municipality office to attend the flag hoisting and various cultural programmes that are organised there. She even pays a visit to a memorial of freedom fighters in Patradevi to pay tribute to them who laid their lives in fighting for Goa’s freedom.
Unlike Kudtarkar, another Goan and a resident of Porvorim, Akshaya D. Gad Kerkar does not have to let go of her school-time memories of celebrating Liberation Day. Working as a teacher with an educational institution, she is always part of almost all the functions, especially the singing program held at the institute but in recent times, she also hosts the event. “Earlier, in my school days, we always had a celebration on this day with students performing various dances, skits, and songs based on patriotism. Hoisting of the Indian tricolour always did give me goosebumps and it still does,” Kerkar says.
Apart from attending the flag hoisting event and the festivities on this day at work, Kerkar also finds a way to witness on television the parade that takes place in Campal, Panjim. “Liberation Day is a very special day for every Goan. The atrocities faced by our ancestors during Portuguese rule are beyond our imagination. The day means a lot to me, as it signifies freedom, the outcome of all the lives laid for the betterment of our generation and future ones. It helped us gain individuality,” she further adds.
Having mentioned “individuality”, it becomes a must to also talk about how every individual in Goa has their way of celebrating Liberation Day. Megh, who owns a restaurant named ‘Kismoor’ in North Goa remembers attending the flag hoisting event at school with his brother which would follow a visit to a Goan restaurant to enjoy fish curry for lunch.
Not only this, but the Sangolda resident would also take part in the cultural programmes held at his society on the occasion following a “pond party”. The memories of his mother making the traditional Goan kheer, ‘Mangane’ is still fresh in his mind as he talks about the celebrations. But what Megh finds even most cheerful is the long-gone memory of how his cousins from Mumbai had once visited him during this time and he had an “extra” holiday that his cousins could not enjoy!
Need for awareness among young Goans
Although it is hard to determine and claim that the celebrations on Goa Liberation Day have changed with time, one thing is certain – many millennials believe that this day is losing its significance among the Goans belonging to the GenZ group. Megh is of the view that the celebrations have changed a lot over time in Goa as the majority of the students enjoy this day as a holiday. “Students are glued to entertainment sources and many do not even know the importance of this day,” he says about his observation.
Even Priyanka Kudtarkar speaks about the noticeable behaviour of the youth and says that the youth today is not so interested in celebrating Liberation Day. Furthermore, as a solution to this, she says, “We need to organise more cultural programmes to create awareness and make them understand the significance of this day so that they and no one forgets how important independence is that we have today,” she says adding that Goans should also not forget about what their ancestors went through to give them freedom.
On the other hand, the scenes on the streets of Goa have not changed much. As Akshaya D. Gad Kerkar highlights, “People are still seen in white attires early in the morning, flag hoisting is done with great pride at every department, every office and every institution, people are felicitated and cultural programmes are hosted portraying the rich culture of Goa.”
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