Lisbon Goans reconnect with roots

Lisbon Goans reconnect with roots

After their performances to packed houses in Panaji and Margao on Saturday and Sunday, Ekvat (which means ‘roots’ in Konkani) is headed for Bangalore with a show at Chowdiah Memorial Hall on Tuesday.

What’s interesting about the group is the really diverse origins of its 25 members. Only five of Ekvat’s performers are originally from Goa, 17 are Goans who were born and brought up in what was once Portuguese East Africa and three are of Portuguese origin. But the thread that runs commonly in their genes is the language of their race, Konkani, and the dance and music of the Goan ‘deknnis’ and ‘Mandos’.

Many of their members, specially those that migrated from Africa, knew little Konkani, though a few might have heard Goan music as kids, says Arvi Barbosa, the group’s music director. It took a lot of hard work over the years with the use of phonetic transcription to get them to learn and understand the repertoire.

“Ekvat has helped us keep our tradition alive, but the younger generation has other preoccupations, so for how much longer, we don’t know,” he says wistfully.
“This is our group’s 20th anniversary, and seems only fitting that we return to the source of our inspiration,” said Virgina Braz Gomes. “We started first with music and dance pieces we had brought with us from Goa. Gradually over the years we have been creating new songs and dances,” she says.

The shortcomings of troupe’s young dancers – many had never been to India before – is more than compensated for by the seasoned choir that does a commendable job of the ‘mandos’ and ‘dulpods’ in the traditional ‘torop bazu’ (velvet sarong-style skirts and braided jackets). Nearly 70,000 people of Indian origin have settled in Portugal, says NRI Commisioner Eduardo Faleiro. “They are favourably looked upon by the local population and are perceived as hard working, devoted to the family and their children are well educated.”

Ekvat has performed in London and the US earlier and will also have shows in Mumbai and Delhi. Their concert is a chance for Konkanis outside Goa to reconnect.

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