Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bonderam Date Confusion & Other Divar Trivia

Bonderam Date Confusion & Other Divar Trivia

It's that time of the year again. The Bonderam
festival at Divar approaches. And as usual there is
confusion about exactly what day the Bonderam festival
is going to be celebrated.

For those who came in late, Bonderam is the Annual
Flag Festival held in Divar Island in August every

To understand....

The island of Divar consists of 4 communidades
- St. Matias (also called Malar) Communidade
- Naroa Communidade
- Goltim Communidade
- Navelim Communidade

In ancient times the Communidades used to have a flag
festival just preceding the harvest festival. Flag
bearers accompanied by local musicians (and later a
Brass Band), would walk along the boundaries of each
Communidade demarcating their holdings. Altercations
would crop up and mock fights were had using
'fotases'. ( A 'fotas' is pea-shooter sort of weapon
made from a length of hollow bamboo. If particular
seeds named 'teflan' (Indian Pepper) are used as
ammunition the sting of a 'fotas' shot can be
quite painful).

In those olden days the Communidade would distribute
excess earnings (part of the produce from the
cultivators) among the Gaunkars as 'zonno'. That is
whatever money was left after maintenance work etc.
had been carried out. A certain amount would be kept
aside and given to the specified Gaunkar whose
turn it was to celebrate the Bonderam that year. The
Gaunkar was also free to add from his own pocket to
add more grandeur to the celebrations.

This money was used to (1) Pay for the musicians/Brass
Band (2) Pay the flag bearers (3) Celebrate the
'konssanchem' fest the next day. So there
were 4 Bonderam Festivals in Divar celebrated by each
of the Communidades separately. This festival, like
the Communidades, predates the Portuguese invasion of

The Post Liberation Tenancy Act (Land to the Tiller)
dealt the first big blow to this festival. Tenants of
the Communidades became owners of their land and so no
revenue accumulated to the Communidades and hence some

Communidades went broke and the celebrations of
Bonderam were curtailed.

The Piedade Youth Association, a vibrant body of young
Divarkars, took up the celebration of the Goltim &
Navelim Communidades in earnest and revived this dying
festival about 10 years back. They introduced
competitive floats between the wards-troupes (Divar
Centre, Vittogen, Santabhatt-Jingle Bells,
Maddant-Stars, Porbuvaddo-Romantic, Premier) live
music, lotteries and many such innovations to make
Bonderam a truly Grand celebration. These PYA
celebrations are the big Bonderam celebrations that
everyone refers to.

The other Bonderam...

The St. Mathias (Malar) Communidade has been regularly
celebrating Bonderam annually (one week before the
popular Divar Bonderam) but in a subdued fashion and
the traditional way. A brass band, flag bearers etc.
Since 2000 the Malar Bonderam celebration have been a
bit upbeat wit the introduction of family floats, folk
entertainers, prizes etc.

This year the Malar Bonderam are on the 17th of August
and the more popular large scale Divar Bonderam will
be on the 23th of August.

Interesting Trivia about Divar and Bonderam

There are three Parishes on the island
Piedade - Our Lady of Piety
Malar - Saint Mathias (Also has statues of the twin
saints Cosme & Damian)
Naroa - Holy Spirit

From Naroa in Divar one can cross over by Ferry to
Naroa in Mayem-Bicholim.

Between Divar and St. Estevam there is a tiny island
called Akado which has a Chapel but is administered by
the Naroa Parish.

Between Divar and Chorao exists another island Vanxim
(with a connecting ferry) inhabited by about 30
families having its own Church and Chapel, visited by
the St. Mathias Parish Priest.

There are two Village Panchayats in Divar
Goltim-Navelim Panchayat, St. Matias Panchayat
(includes Naroa and Vanxim)

The Naroa and Navelim Communidades had stopped
Bonderam celebrations long back due to lack of funds.

Flags of different countries were used in the Bonderam
celebrations earlier. But since 2001, in the interests
of Political Correctness, just plain coloured flags
are used and 'fotas' shooting has been banned within
certain areas. Outsiders run the risk of having their
'fotases' confiscated on the Ferry Boat itself by the

The PYA Bonderam lottery is unique because if the
prize number is from among the unsold tickets then a
new draw is held immediately until the prize is
actually given away. This year a fancy Karizma 180 cc.
Motorcycle is the first prize and at Rs. 25/- a pop it
is an interesting bet.

This report has been complied by Cecil Pinto
(son-in-law of Divar) with the assistance of Nobert
Pereira (Gaunkar-of-Goltim and resident of Divar). If
you find any errors in this report please bring it to
our attention.
Queries on other aspects of Divar / Bonderam most
welcome. Please forward this to any person you know
who might have an interest in these topics.)

Viva Bonderam!
Aug 12, 2003

For pictures and reports check out:

Courtesy: The Goan Forum

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