you want to dance through the night and eat and drink your heart out,
head straight for Mapusa
you, perchance, see my husband?
In the market buying pearls for the dancing girl
folk song (anon)
obviously was a folk poet with a very fertile imagination. Not many
lawfully wedded Goan husbands shop for gifts as brashly for their
favourite dancing girl. But, yes, Goan fairs are unforgettable
experiences. A traveller described them as plays without a
stage. And so they are, audience participation being the key
any other fair, Goan fairs are polychromous and, since the last few
years, it is not just the colour of the garments all kinds of
them it is also the colour of skins ranging from black to
white and all the imaginable mid-hues of brown. Gita Mehta, the
celebrated author of Karma Cola, described Anjuna as an
anthropologists dream. The sites of the fairs are also an
etymologists delight. For you can speculate on the origins of
the various name places. Was Anjuna once `Anjamana, a guild of
Arab traders? And nearby Chapora once Shahpur? Are they Islamic
landmarks of Goas pre-Portuguese past when, Arabs in tandem
with the Venetians, supplied Europe all the Oriental spices they
needed to preserve their needs in those distant days when there were
no refrigerators? Perhaps.
Friday Mapusa is the site of one of the most memorable fairs.
Cereals were and still are in Goa measured in maaps
made of wood, generally teak, with metal (brass in most cases) rims.
For every maap unloaded in the shoppers bag, the
salesman uttered a throaty saa for the man, generally the
owner, minding the till to take note of the sale and collect the
cash. Hence, Maap-Saa. Clever isnt it?
were fairs that specialized in certain goods. One went all the way to
Narve in Bicholim subdivision on Gokul Ashtami day to buy wooden
furniture, some of it carved. For copper cauldrons, every Friday, to
Banastari. The famous Calangute beach has a Saturday market for
salted fish, pork and piglets.
31 is the day or purument, a Konkani distortion of purumento,
an archaic Portuguese word meaning provisions. One fair is held in
Panaji, the capital of Goa and the another in Margao, the capital of
south Goa district.
start assembling about ten days before the actual date and stay on
till they finish their wares or decide they have had enough of it.
Whether for turmeric or asafoetida and certainly for the most varied
assortment of red peppers, that is the day and those are the places.
Also for fish and meat preserves, pickles and jams that are home-made
and guaranteed to last a whole year. And for herbs, barks, unguents
and roots for all kinds of monsoon ailments. Because in Goa, after
the SW monsoon had set in, the landed gentry would stay put in their
mansions and the peasants would slave in the fields from dawn to
dusk. They all had to stock up as best as they could for the duration
of the rains.
the oldest Goan fair is the Mapusa Friday Fair. It is huge, but not
the biggest because that privilege belongs to the fair of Nossa
Senhora dos Milagres (Our Lady of Miracles) held on the first
Monday 15 days after Easter. It literally spreads itself all over
Mapusa city. Every pavement, lane and cranny of it. Late in the
evening there is a grand open air ball in the municipal square with
five or more bands in attendance, hundreds of dancers on the floor.
Beer and liquor are sold and drunk by the barrel. It goes on till
dawn breaks. The most charming feature of the festival is that it is
celebrated with great gusto by both the Catholic and Hindu
communities Catholics for very obvious reasons and never ever
has the Madonna disappointed believers seeking special favours.
Hindus believe that the Virgin Madonna is but a twin sister of
Lairai, a virtuous deity of their pantheon who resisted the demons
who in vain tried to rape her.
Mapusa fair is a mindboggling event. Robert Bradnok, Head of the
Geography Department of London University, and Roma, his wife, a
Bengali by birth, describe the fair in Goa Handbook (a
Footprint Handbooks imprint) as colourful and vibrant... a must
since vendors come from far and wide and there is a lot of activity
right into the evening. The sun (for photography) is best early
in the morning between 8.30 and 9.30 a.m. For Goan specialities try
the stall with the signboard reading `Olivia Ferrao. There is
no better place for Goan preserves, pork sausages, parah
(pickled fish), perada (guava cheese), mangada (mango
jam), or the ingredients that go into the famous Goan specialities
like balchao, vindaloo, xacuti. Dona Olivia hails from a
distinguished Goan family of doctors, lawyers, musicians, bishops.
Being now very old and infirm she has franchised her secret and
centuries-old family recipes.
the most famous worldwide is the Anjuna Flea Market held every
Wednesday at daybreak till well into the evening when many of the
sellers and buyers adjourn to the nearby Beach Bar for a rave party.
event which is the most apt de-scription one can think of
was the brainwave of the Peaceniks as they styled
themselves. They opposed the Vietnam war and sought refuge in Goa in
the late 1960s. Anjuna then was a deserted and paradisiac beach. The
Peaceniks, when they found themselves broke, started
selling their belongings: music tapes, books, gadgets, perfumes...
The Flea Market has grown manifold since then. It has to be seen to
be believed. Lonely Planet (popularly known as Survival Kit),
the very well written Australian guide, describes the Anjuna Flea
Market very aptly: Its a wonderful blend of Tibetan and
Kashmir traders, colourful Gujarati women, blissed out 90s style
hippies, Indian tourists, Western tourists and travellers from around
the world. And goes on to state that youll find there
whatever you need from a used paperback to a new swimsuit...
the best place to shop for souvenirs... day-glo coloured rave
clothings... hammocks, handpainted T-shirts, joss stick holders,
paintings... The list goes on. And just in case ... a few
further details: There are makeshift shelters offering
western hairdressing, a multitude of women who will offer
to decorate your limbs with hennad patterns and at least a
couple of places specialising in body piercing (tattoo)... And
there are barbers, beggars, jugglers, contortionists, monkey tricks
and mercers, milliners, jewellers, hatters, hawkers of sweetmeats,
snacks, cold drinks, cigarettes...
Flea Market has been such a huge success that it has branched out.
There is also, since the dawn of 2000, a Flea Market at Baga, the
beach at the foot of Anjuna Hill. It is on every Saturday 8 a.m.
onwards, rainy months excluded.