Panaji | Locals and tourists in large numbers are expected to throng Divar island across Mandovi river on August 27 to witness a carnival like ambience for the age-old Bonderam festival.
The festival, set in the picturesque island from Portuguese era has been an annual affair which sees riot of flags, traditional dances, float parade and games.
Goa tourism minister Dilip Parulekar said the festival is being promoted as a major tourist attraction and it is one of the most unique festivals of the state celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August every year at Divar Island, near Panaji.
“Such festivals imbibe unity and a reason to celebrate with bliss and harmony. It is a very popular monsoon festival and draws huge crowds from all parts of Goa and world over. We are expecting a large number of visitors to come and experience the festival this year,” he said.
According to villagers, the history of the festival stems out of the blood-soaked past of this island.
The name ‘Bonderam’, revolves around the involvement of flags which in itself is an interesting story. Frequent disputes which occurred between two wards (section of the village) over property matters often led to bloody duels, and sometimes death.
Subsequently, the Portuguese introduced a system of demarcation of boundaries with flags of various nations.
“The rival groups, however, knocked down the flags sometimes with stones. Several years down the line, the gun fight has now turned into a joyful fight between villagers using a locally made bamboo gun, called ‘Fotash,” they said.
Today, in a parody of the past, the mock fight is commemorated with a “Fotash” flight (toy weapon of bamboo stem) and berries are used as missiles between rival groups to knock down an offending flag.
Sharing more details of the festival, Parulekar said the gaily coloured floats accompanied by colourfully dressed youngsters, make a pretty picture along with revellers.
“Each ward of the village sends a float to the parade and no efforts are spared to outdo each other. The parade is marked by joyous celebrations accompanied by loud music and live band performances,” he said.