It is difficult to establish how villages came into existence in the primitive or the ancient period. The written references on this aspect are insufficient. No strong evidence is available on how the Goan villages were structured in the early period. However, interviews with the illiterate elderly villagers, circumstantial evidence and logical thinking provide a direction.
A village called Tishem lies across the river from Savoi-Verem. This was an area without any houses or human settlements. The area was selected for the construction of a jetty to enable the loading of iron ore, which was carried by river transport. The ore was transported by trucks from the mines and dumped at the jetty. The ore was carried by, barges running between the harbour and the jetty. During the fifth decade of the 20th century, the entire work of unloading the trucks and loading the ore into the barges was executed manually. The barges transported ore only when the bigger ships particularly those from Japan entered into the harbour area.
The job of collecting the labourers and getting the ore loaded was entrusted to a person called the Mukadam ie the supervisor, someone who was capable of completing the job within a limited time. Besides a percentage from the labourers, the Mukadam was also paid by the mine owners. The area remained busy with the movements of the labourers both male and female, only when the barges were anchored at the jetty. Subsequently, the export of iron ore increased, resulting in a growing number of trips by the barges. It became difficult for a labourer to remain at the site for a considerable length of time. Slowly, the people engaged in this work began constructing huts in the area. Subsequently it became the permanent residence of the labourer who settled there along with the other family members. Family members began cultivating in the ‘Porsum’- kitchen garden. The mine owner either purchased the land from the bonafide owner or as per the practice prevailing at that time. The land owner by an oral request allowed some families to construct their houses. They even allowed the cutting of some of the trees and using lofts in constructing the house. Slowly the barren area was transformed into a village.
Once the concept of the village came into existence, the villagers installed a deity by erecting or constructing a small temple. Not only that but spirits and entities like Denvchar and Vatharo were worshipped at a few places. To fulfil the needs of the villager, traditional occupants like carpenters, barbers, and blacksmiths entered the area, offering their services. Some of the family members from the village itself began running grocery shops, hotels and small Gados, etc. Within a period of seven years a separate village came into existence consisting of different communities, castes and creeds and religions (1952-60). Presently, the residents have forsaken this village again due to pressure from the mining industry.
Another example of the emergence of a village is known only through interviews with elderly persons. There is a small village called Yeda in the Canacona taluka, inhabited only by the families of the Kulmi community. This village is 26 kms from today’s National Highway 17. The villagers narrated the story to the researcher.
Once upon a time a person from the Pernem taluka of Kulmi origin, in search of food and shelter, arrived in the area. He had a bamboo basket-a buti on his head. In this basket along with food items, were the symbols of his family deities. While resting, keeping his basket by his side, he experienced a dream in which he saw a goddess with a sword and a shield in her hands. He searched for the goddess but could find no trace of her. Attempting to resume his travels he tried to place the basket on his head but could not do so. So he searched again, and he found the goddess he had dreamed of. Finally, he decided to settle down in that area by constructing a house. Slowly his other colleagues from Pernem and other areas joined him. In local parlance ‘Yedat’ means Itinerant. The name of that village Yeda is derived from this. In fact any village of the Kulmi community should necessarily have a Velip family for the religious rites. This is the only village where in only the families of Ganvkars are the original settlers. Slowly a few other families came in for work and trade. The place of the goddess is known as Yedkann. A piece of land of about 500 sq mts, filled with trees and bushes lies at the border of the village, this is where the basket could not be lifted, and is regarded as a sacred place. The entire rituals related to the village are initiated from this holy place. The deity conceived over that place is known as Sarka puris. The two examples mentioned above speak about how villages are being established.
By Vinayak Khedekar
The Navhind Times, Panorama
Sunday November 4, 2007
Posted By : Vinayak Khedekar, Goa on 05/11/2007