A new book tells everything about
the village of Cuncolim, and is
impressive in the amount of
ground it covers, writes
When I ran into this book, I immediately didn’t think twice before investing Rs 500 in its 576 pages. This is a book about that prominent village from Salcete, Cuncolim, and the 2006-published title contains a wealth of information about varied aspects of the place.
[PHOTO: Neenad Desai’s panoramic shot of today’s Cuncolim]
It contains an amazing amount of information on Cuncolim. Though I have no links with the village whatsoever, I found it fascinating to scan through it.
From the past to the current, it looks at a range of information that anyone interested in understanding Goa would like to at least wade through. Ancient temples of Cuncolim, Veroda and Talvorda; the Comunidades of the region; the Portuguese arrival and insurrections; village life; the influence of the Marathas in Cuncolim and much more ground is covered.
Son of the village, priest Planton Faria, does a good job in given wide coverage to everything Cuncoliana. He gets down to issues like the killing of the Jesuits, the church and clergy, Hindu temples (including the fascinating and much-studied Festival of the Umbrellas), the Socidade Agricola, and current-day persons from the area including artisans and judges and journalists!
While the book strikes you as not being critical of the facts included, and sometimes lacking in analysis, it is undeniably encyclopaedic in the amount of information it collates about just one village in Goa!
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One of the unconvincing parts of the book, to this columnist, was Faria’s treatment of the recent caste-based conflict in the Cuncolim church.
Arguments such as “the caste factor is a prominent factor in all Goan villages, particularly in the South” didn’t strike one as being very convincing. What does one make of the view that non-ganvkars excluded were not just ‘sudras’ but also Catholic Kshatriyas from other villages settled in Cuncolim? Pointing to the “exclusive membership” of Hindu institutions and devasthans is no justification either. To exclude others because, in turn, they excluded someone else, doesn’t come across as a valid argument too.
This book reminds one of Dr Olivinho Gomes’ book done earlier — of similar size, even if that was hard-bound — on Chandor, another village from Salcete. There are also books, if slimmer, on villages like Benaulim and Saligao (published way back in 1973), possibly among others.
Printed in Belgaum at St Jude’s, it is published by the Govavani Media Centre at Culvaddo in Cuncolim. Its price overseas is US$25 or Euros 20. Copies are available at the Daughters of St Paul’s outlet on 18th June Road.
The Vishayanurup Dyaneshwari by retired judge Dhananjay Dehspande is a 224-page lavishly-printed, hard-bound and large sized book published by the Goa government’s Department of Information. Unpriced, it’s in Marathi, making it await a more qualified reviewer to judge its worth and readability.
At the time of its release in early August, there were some pearls of wisdom that emerged during the official function. The chief minister naturally said that the society should benefit largely from such books.
Going by the official report of the event, Speaker Pratapsing Rane suggested that the author “should come out with a simpler edition of the Dyaneshwari so as to benefit the common man.” Whatever that implies… Information director Menino Peres believed the book “would be of great help to the scholars and researchers of Dyaneshwari.” And Justice Ferdino Rebello argued that a “Secular state does not mean a society devoid of morals.” Now, whoever suggested that it did? Or is the judge and former prominent campaigner-politician from Goa a victim of poor reporting?
It’s hard to understand the logic behind which books the State chooses to support. At the Information Department, one ran into a circular offering time-off duty to staffers who went for that book release function, to make it a grand success. Or words to that effect.
NO CLEAR HINT
Leroy Veloso, a reader from Moira, was critical and found this column not specific enough in terms of recommending which books are worth buying or not.
Leroy is right. But one could argue that the decision of buying a book or not depends on a range of issues. A book that’s worth it for one person, might not be suitable for another. What was that saying about one man’s meat being another’s poison?
So avoiding a clear suggestion over the ‘worth’ of a book might be the only fair way to leave an open-ended decision to anyone reading this. As far as the coverage of each book not been “elaborate” enough, the rate at which people are publishing books in Goa clearly makes it essential to cover a number of tomes in each column. Of course, I’m not complaining… it’s nice to see so many books emerge.
Cecil Pinto, another reader and fellow-columnist in GT, felt that the last column’s mention on a how-to book on writing books was misplaced. It had nothing to do with Goa, he pointed out. Cecil was referring to Michael Oke’s “Writing Your Life Story” (Jaico, Rs 150, 2006).
Well, without jumping to one’s own defence, let me reiterate that the range of books published in Goa’s own book publishing sector seems to be shaping up nicely these days.
Even if we don’t have enough readers for every book — and certainly not enough reviewers or sales outlets — at least we have a sufficient number of writers. Books are increasingly seeing light of day.
This being the case, shouldn’t Goa be encouraging more of its potential writers to get converted into published authors? Anything that could give a nudge in this direction does seem helpful. At least to me.
BOOK FAIR IN PORTUGAL
Lisbon-based historian and author Dr Teotonio R de Souza, in Goa recently when he released the book ‘From Goa to Patagonia’, was mentioning about the one-month long book fair in the Portuguese capital held before summer each year.
Booksellers put on display their books, from 4 pm till midnight, each day for an entire month. It’s a nice open-air venue. They hand out free catalogues of books available. While discussing the issue, someone wondered: do we have enough readers in Goa?
Well, it does seem a good enough idea. Supply of good and relevant books could create its own demand. Visibility helps too. Is anyone willing to take the initiatives for bringing book vendors under one roof? Do we have a suitable venture for such an event, preferably outdoors, so the books actually reach to their readers? With venues like the Old GMC and even the Old Secretariat available, surely something could be done for the book in Goa.
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Top ten bestsellers at the Museum of Christian Art, Old Goa
Below is a list of top-ten Goa-related sellers available at the Museum of Christian Art, Old Goa. Profits from the sale of the books and other items at the museum shop goes towards the conservation and maintenance of the Museum. See http://christianartmuseum.goa-india.org/
* Museum Souvenir, Rs.400 1993
* Old Goa the complete guide. Oscar de Noronha. Plus Publications. 160 pp. Rs.125. 2004.
* Book of Confidence Fr. Thomas de Saint Laurent. Third Millennium. 93 pp. Rs.50. 2003.
* In and around Old Goa. Heta Pandit. Marg Publications. 131pp. Rs. 695. 2004.
* Houses of Goa. Foreword by Gerard da Cunha. Gerard da Cunha and Architecture Autonomous. 185 pp. Rs.1900. 3rd edition 2006.
* De Goa A Ceilao: Saga de um Caminheiro Infatigavel. Pedro Correia Afonso. Third Millennium. 216 pp. Rs. 250. 2006.
* Inside Goa. Manohar Malgonkar. Architecture Autonomous. 199 pp. Rs.695. Revised edition 2004.
* Walking in and around Panaji, Goa Heritage Action Group and the Corporation for the City of Panjim. 304pp. Rs.600. 2005.
* Parmal (magazine). Volume 4. Goa Heritage Action Group. 130pp. Rs.100. 2005.
* Dust and other short stories from Goa. Heta Pandit. The Heritage Network. 231pp. Rs.250. 2002.