Symbol of Konkani integrity

ITS Gumatt all over: A doll attired in the traditional Konkani dress and carrying a Gumatt at the Kalaangaan venue. DH photos Sandhya C D’Souza

The beats of Gumatt, a primitive percussion instrument that has made the Konkanis dance since ages, stands out to be the logo for the World Konkani Convention that has kicked off at Kalaangann on Thursday.

The Gumatt is made up of a mud pot which has a large and small opening on two sides. While the large opening is covered with skin of monitor lizard, the small opening is left open for sound modulation using hand.

"The Gumatt, which is the testimony to the rich culture is the only folk instrument that the Konkanis can call their own", says Mandd Shobann Gurkaar Eric Ozario speaking to City Herald.

The Gumatt is famous from Rathanagiri to Kochi and is very prominent among the Kudubis, Konkani Catholics, Sidhis and Kharvis.
This is the main reason for selecting it as the logo for the convention, he adds.

‘Gumatt dance’

The Gumatt is used as one of the instruments in the band for some dances, where as there are dances performed playing only the Gumatt and this is known as ‘Gumatt dance.’

“Association of folk culture to religion is a must for its survival. In Kudbi community, gumatt is still an integral part of life and it is played during holy festivals and auspicious events but it is not so in Konkani Catholic community,” says Eric.

Wedding ceremony

The Gumatt is played during the ‘Roce’ (ceremony of applying coconut milk for bride and groom prior to wedding) by the Konkani Catholics. The singers used to invoke god's blessings with songs like 'Ruzai Saibin', 'Santh Francis Xavier', 'Saath Sacaramenta', 'Sinolachi Kurr' and many others.

Legends

Eric remembers the legends of Gumatt like Joachim Periera who kept Gumatt alive in catholic communities. Gopal Gowda among Kudubis and Mingel Anthon Siddhi among the Siddhi communities are some of the other legends who are remembered everytime the word Gumatt is uttered.

The Catholics unlike other Konkani communities keep the Gumatt on their lap and play while the rest wear it around their neck and dance to its tunes.

The inquisition law imposed by the Portuguese in Goa forced the Catholics to give up dance and play Gumatt on the lap, says Eric Ozario.

Gumatt played by Konkani catholics has only 4 'taalas' as against much more known by Kudbis.

Eric says that adaptation and experimentation must be held in Gumatt to make it more appealing to the youth, keeping the sanctity of the music alive.Gumatt is now for sale at the festival venue with starting price of Rs 900.

With replicas of Gumatt embellishing the city and the venue of the World Konkani Cultural Fest, ‘Gumatt’ truly stands tall as symbol of Konkani integrity and cultural richness.

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