The sound of the dhol still rings in my ears. The jam-packed shamiana was a sea of students of all hues. Each college had assembled its own team of enthusiastic supporters and participants. Flags were wielded gaily and the tum-ta-ra-rum-tum-tum of the drums, saw no pause – even when the announcer pleaded for silence. It could only be the annual Goa Yuva Mahotsav -- held this year at Chicalim grounds Vasco last weekend (1-2 February 2014).
This event is entirely in Konkani. Here the sons and daughters of the soil could hold their heads high and revel in the virtuosities of their mother tongue. Creativity was given full reign with various events organized for the 53 groups to compete in.
The excitement reached fever pitch on the second day. The 23 shortlisted teams had to perform for a round of mustayaki. In the Hindu tradition of Nav Ghonv the newly-wedded couple has to introduce each other to the village people. The man and his wife coin a couplet introducing their spouse. Contestants could dress up as any character to make it more interesting and to establish instant crowd appeal. Here is how Vaibhav Kamat dressed as Arvind Kejriwal, brandishing a broom, introduced his ‘spouse’:
Jhaadu sagleank marun marun
Haath majhi jharli
Jine majhi kaliz helan
Tiche nav Kamli.
My hands ache,
The one who won my heart
Her name is Kamli.]
Hetal Sawardekar, replied introducing her ‘husband’:
Haacho ani Jhadvacho
Saamko jivacho saath
Ravindrache naav gheta
Majher sodach kamlacho haath.
[My husband and the broom
Go hand in hand in life.
When I take Ravindra’s name
The hand of the lotus is always near me.]
The meter may be wanting but to hear the original Konkani is a treat. Given the fact that these were a newly-wed couple who were presenting their credentials to society, many verses explored sexuality – or the lack of it!
Gatherings like these which use Konkani as their L1 (first language) are worlds apart from those which use English as their L1. The assumptions are different, the values are different. The expectations are different.
This seeming impasse is mediated in the work of Nilesh Prabhudesai, photographer par excellence. Nilesh shoots around 2000 photos on his Nikon at each Yuva Mahotsav out of which he selects 600. These photos are displayed at the venue of the next Yuva Mahotsav. ‘I want to do something for society. If it makes even a little difference . . .’ He trails off. His fans eagerly come the next year to pick up the photos. Earlier they were given free, now they come at a small price to enhance their value. Nilesh is with Goan Shutterbugs.
This 19th Yuva Mahotsav was organized by the Konkani Bhasha Mandal (KBM) to promote the love for Konkani among the youth of Goa. All is not lost for those who didn’t get the first place. Jai Konkani. Jai Goa.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------With inputs from Vinod Kankonkar, Gorak Sirsat, Prutha Parab and Lenny Dias; Published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 9 February, 2014; Pix courtesy 'Goa Yuva Mahotsav' on Facebook