The placid Sinquerim river, which flows languidly south of the village of Candolim, attracts quite a massive gathering of people come June end. Largely Catholic, people collect at the river bank on the northern side, at Orda, to partake in the annual Sangodd which marks the feast of saints Peter and Paul on June 29.
Quite a large sect ion of the simple, riverine people still live by the blessings of the sea and river, fish providing them with work and livelihood. For these hardy folk, St Peter, a fisherman like them when Jesus picked him up to be an apostle, has been the patron saint whom they hail and pray to in times of distress as well as plenty.
Eventually, on June 29, they set their nets aside, moor their fishing boats and join in celebrating the feast of their patron. The excitement gathers momentum as the evening grows and men, women and children begin approaching in droves from either side of the road to the tiny chapel by the river. For a change, they overlook the inconvenience of the monsoon showers on this special evening.
Past a few prayers and some popular brass music, the curious crowd proceeds hurriedly behind the chapel to occupy vantage positions at the tiny jetty against which floats a well-decorated aquatic platform rigged up by tying three boats — the Sangodd.
Against the backdrop of a makeshift chapel, with patron Peter's image placed in the niche, sits the brass band providing accompaniment for popular Konkani songs belted out by local boys and professional stage artistes, punctuated by comic skits.
After a short sequence of songs, the Sangodd glides gently down the Sinquerim river, with the crowds following it. At every one of the half-a-dozen similar stops, more people join and swell the audience.
Quaint is the aquatic platform, and it's fun watching how the crowd walks along the pathways through the greenery as the performers finish one sequence and the boat proceeds to the next berth.
The entertaining Sangodd celebration culminates at the chapel of St Peter, situated further down the river, and the crowd hurries home from every pathway available, to return to Orda a year later with unfailing fervor and enthusiasm.
Sangodd actually means a couple of wooden planks tied firmly together to form a floating raft. For the modern festivity at Candolim, the Sangodd provides a platform conducive for staging a performance. Similar floating tableaux are organized at Ribandar, near Panaji. And also at Marcel and Banastarim during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, when the Ganesh images are taken for immersion.
Article by C Vincent
TOI – 29th June 2010
Photos by Lynn Barreto Miranda / lynn.barretomiranda.com