For the whole month of August, The Harvest Festival is celebrated all over Goa and is offered at different dates. The biggest of these festivals is celebrated in the island of Divar - the Bonderam Festival.
The Bonderam festival is observed on 4th Saturday of August. Bonderam comes from the Portuguese word meaning flag. There is an interesting story behind the Festival. In the past, physical fights occasionally broke out between the people of various wards (section of the village) over encroachments of land. The Portuguese came up with a solution to put up flags of various nations on the boundaries to demarcate the land by which the villagers would be unable to capture the nearby land. However the villagers were annoyed with this new system and used to throw stones at the flags to show their protest.
Thus Bonderam was celebrated by the various Communidades and were confined to parading the national flags of various countries, fixed atop bamboo stems and carried in a march preceded by the brass band. The villagers welcomed them with the firing of toy popguns made of bamboo called fotash and loaded with assallam seeds as bullets which really hurt when shot on contact. The procession went around the village to demarcate the boundaries of the island's communidades.
The mock battles today are a reminder of those fights in which the fotash was used as a weapon to fight the battle. Today, the use of fotash however has been limited to certain restricted areas to avoid inflicting serious injuries on those attending the festivities.
On the day, the charming and quiet Divar Island comes alive with the festive spirit and a carnival ambience is created. Each ward of the village puts up a float at the parade which is accompanied by loud music and marked by joyous celebrations. A number of people take part and rejoice in the celebrations and thousands of people from adjoining areas begin trickling into the village to witness the traditional festival of Bonderam in Goa.
Bonderam is also known to be a festival that united people of different religions. Large crowds line up at both sides and cheer the participants by chanting 'Viva Bonderam'. They also dance to the music and this is the spirit that has kept the festival alive for so many years.