The pandemic period saw a complete stop to the much-loved festam. Now, the festekar is back with fresh fests and a new direction.
Back in 2001, the concept of fest was non-existent. The major festivals were commercial events, sponsored by big players, and weren’t safe family programs with alcohol flowing. Such was the scene when Marius Fernandes returned from the UK. He decided to break-way from the cash rich festivals to create his own brand of simple, locally sourced, community-driven fests. Soon it would earn him the title ‘Festekar of Goa.’
“Most of the major festivals were sponsored by political and the business entities and were not family friendly scenes. We toyed with the idea of hosting events that not only brought people together on a large scale but did away with sponsorship of any kind, and one that would be devoid of a Chief Guest that was a must for any festival in those days. Other features were added as we began to put the idea together,” shares Marius.
The festam rely on the voluntary services of like-minds to devote their time and contribution in cash or kind towards the various other requirements in terms of food, decor etc. Once the group allots the committees work begins.
After taking a break for the pandemic the past two years, the festam are back with the first for the season on the 8 May, Ambeachem Fest in Corlim from 11 am. “Things have changed around the world, so we had to keep up with the times. The festival will be organized at the Montfort Academy that offers vocational training and job placements.” Other festivals in the pipeline are Muddasanchem Fest, Maichem Fest, and Ponsachem Fest.
Speaking about the new direction for the festam, he says, “The future festivals will be more inclusive, educational, and sharing of knowledge, creating employment.”
Today, the forthcoming Ambeachem Fest marks the 50 festival. The events over course of 12 yearsunearthed a fresh set of talented across fields from cooks, musicians, dancers, song writers.
Each fest put on a spectacular display of Goa’s unique traditions. On the shores of Arambol, the Raponkars cast their nets and pulled in a fresh catch that delighted the crowds. It drew Goans and visitors queuing to celebrate the fish of Goa and enjoy the 35 member brass band from the village.
The Gumtachem Fest popularized the traditional instrument and led to an announcement of the ghumot being a state instrument. “It saved the potter and monitor lizard,” he shares. The Patoinchem fest brought the secular sweet, the patolleo from the kitchens at home to the public.
Another major achievement was the increased participation of women. At the Poderanche Fest, a workshop organised taught women how to play the ghumot. The festival saw the first ever showcase of that event.
Host Your Own Festival:
Venue: Identify a suitable venue that is available at no cost. Ideal locations can be religious places like church or temple courtyards, school grounds etc that will already have a stage, chairs and sound set up.
Stage, Sound and Light: These depend on the venue. Alow cost platform can be built depending on the requirement. Sound and light is sourced free.
Food and Drinks: No alcohol is served at the venue. Food is made at home taking the help of the locals. The committees ensure that people contribute in some way either in preparation, cash or kind. Each team will then purchase the raw materials and then hand it over to those responsible to cook the dishes. While food has been served free in the past, you can charge a nominal price.
Stalls:There are no stalls but tables can be put up for eats and drinks.
Entertainment: There are no paid entertainers. All are sourced from the village.
Clean up: The clean-up team ensures that the place is cleaned before and after the event.
Permissions: Permissions from the police, fire and municipality are brought in advance by the volunteers.
Deco:Try eco-friendly ideas to decorate.