With Monsoons basically knocking at our door-steps, I felt urged to showcase the joys that the Season emanates by irrigating our semi parched land to ensure better productivity in the days to come. Our simplistic fare with the onset becomes more tantalizing and altruistic in every sense that our mind may conceive, all thanks to the bounty of nature.
Although I aim to chain the monsoon contents I felt that there should be a beginning which might not be sequential nor graded in the order of appearances. However the emphasis should be stressed upon not on any particular subject which is pen portrayed. Thus at the outset I commence with a fruit which is a part of our tradition and lore and that being none other than the endearing coconut.
The coconut tree “Cocos Nucifera”, which is native of East Indies planted presumably by the Portuguese, is the fifth member of the Palm Trees “Palmae” family and being a vegetable is cherished by one and all. The tree elevates majestically to around 20 to 30 meters which can be termed as fully mature. Its longevity is deemed to be 100 to 150 years depending on care and nutrients provided. It has “Monoecious” flowers (having male and female reproductive organs in separate flowers but on a single plant). The epicarp “Sonnam-sali” is coriaceous (tough); the mesocarp is known as “Catho” or fibrous coir; and the endocarp is the “Cotti” or the coriaoeous begging bowl. It is provided with three tiny apertures at its base with a small embryo.
In the earlier days the proprietors of the coconut grove used to effect the payments towards the ground rent “Foro” to the Public Treasury for the outlay of the territory. The coconut, in accordance to its developmental stages is identified by various native denominations, although care should be taken with “Murindo” found at the apex of the tree which offers a reliant ailment, however with its plucking it generates the death of the tree. Thus the game can be plucked when the tree is felled within the circumstances best known.
To accustom with the local appellations at various stages of “growing up” I invoke “Bondi”, the fruit merely denuded of flowery wrappings, and “Bondo” or “Coroi”, from which emerges the white episperm; the “Vanz” is the coconut devoid of “Catholi”, the endosperm which when cut from the middle it is utile as a scrubber. “Narl” is the fruit of the coconut tree and what we term the “Coconut”, which is perfectly matured and of rightful dimensions. “Movem” is a batric coconut, which is sweet although devoid of oily matter, ergo the reason it constitutes as a savoury and salubrious victual. There is also “Coco-Lanho” or “Sialem” or “Adhsor”, the coconut which is near perfect wherein the endocarp contains the agri-sweet water which is good for renal failures, liver maladies and the like. The “Modoco” is denominated to the coconut plucked before the total maturity and for not giving the coconut milk nor the oil, however it is a complete nutrient. To the coconut which contains only sweetened water and little of translucent “catholic”, the endospermic mealy kernel, the name-game is that of “Udocovanz”, to that deprived of water and with a little consistent endosperm, is known as “Colvanz” or “Colyanza”; and to the matured coconut but of little development, the appellation is “Quitoca”. And finally the “Biadoco” which is the coconut reserved towards the reproduction.
The endemic populace denominates the coconut tree as the “Calpauruxa” or the tree that germinates by itself, to which bestow the fruit of the nature and it is considered as the symbol of munificence. The coconut is viewed by the Non-Brahmins Hindus as symbolic to happiness while for the Christians it is the emblem of astuteness. From, the coconut tree is extracted the sap which is known as “Sur”, a sweetened liquid (toddy) which flavours our bread and whatever it may be put to use in the art of baking, not forgetting that palm “feni” can also be availed of the same.
The coconut after being barren is also employed by the Hindu community in their marriage ceremonies and in the “Qhetrapuzas”, which are the sacrifices to appease the divinity. The Goan ladies while dreaming concur with various premonitions which signifies the following: To pluck the coconut means boredom; to nourish with ripened coconut means happiness; eating green coconut means brashness; to serve copra means business in shambles; to offer a coconut to a lady means at heart’s mercy; a vision of a coconut grove means affluence and joys.
Whatever belongs to a coconut tree is recognized as being utile, thus the “Bhatcars” (landlords) appealed to the tree as “Pataxya-Ruqha”-the king amongst trees. From the trunk the said can be utilized towards the wooden framework and from its leaves (Olas), woven fronds, the said are capitalized towards the repairs and maintenance of the household.
The coconut tree endows on us sugar, wine, vinegar, oil (khobrem), water, milk, wood and yarn. From tee shall which coats the coconut variegated art objects are made available. Thus the coconut tree is truly the King among the trees.
By Caetano de Abreu
Herald, 12 June 2008
Posted By : Caetano de Abreu, Goa on 12/06/2008