Easter egg prices soar, but fervour spreads in Goa

Easter egg prices soar, but fervour spreads in Goa

Rising costs of cashew nuts by as much as 75 percent, in face of a lean season, have deterred Easter egg makers considerably.

"I don't know whether to make Easter eggs this year. Usually at this time of the year, cashew nuts cost Rs.250-300 a kilo. But this year, they are as high as Rs.400-450 a kilo. I'm wondering whether to even make them. I'm worried that the high price will scare customers away," Simon Cardozo of Simonia Stores Bakery in Mapusa told IANS.

And the short span of relevance of the Easter egg - on Sunday alone - too does not help matters.

Depending on the stuffing, an Easter egg could cost anywhere from Rs.30 to Rs.2,000.

Nevertheless, on Sunday, Goa will erupt into the Catholic celebration of Easter, in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion.

The celebration here is called 'Paskanchem fest' and celebrations are elaborate with candlelight processions, midnight masses and sumptuous meals, often replete with roasted piglings and wine (after a 40-day abstinence called Lent) Sunday afternoon.

"The Bible recounts how Jesus celebrated his last meal with his disciples, was betrayed by one of his own friends and arrested by Jewish leaders and handed over to the Romans for a public crucifixion, a Roman form of punishment that involved the nailing of the victim to a tree, meant as a brutal deterrent to those who challenged the authority of Rome," says local priest Andre Fernandes.

Christ's resurrection is symbolised by an egg, which has evolved over centuries into a nice glossy, foil covered, bow wrapped, goody-stuffed unit, which is sold popularly across the counter in chocolataries, bakeries and gift stores.

"Easter eggs have always been Goans' favourite, as also the local varieties of cakes like sponge cake, raisin cake and the like," says Joel Fernandes, the proprietor of the popular Infantaria bakers in Calangute.

According to local historians, however, it is commerce and not tradition which has fuelled the Easter egg market in the state.

"It is all commercial influence. They need to sell something for Easter," says Maria Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodriguesm about the eggs covered with marzipan (paste often made of cashewnuts, which solidifies into a thick crust in which the stuffing is cached).

"In Goa, they used to make Pão de Ló, a sweet bread on the occasion of Easter. But those days are gone and people don't make it anymore. Those cooks are also long gone and I don't see it around anymore," she says.

"It used to be a sweet bread coated with almonds and other dry fruits," Maria recalls wistfully, rueing the loss of tradition which has disappeared over the years in face of a commercial onslaught.