Bonderam, also known as the flag festival of Diwar Island in Goa. Rather than traveling to any other place this Saturday on 22nd August 2015, we set out to visit to the quaint island of Divar in the river Mandovi. Divar Island, which hosts the famous colorful festival of Bonderam, is situated roughly 12 Kms from Panjim city, the state capital. It is reached by ferry from Ribandar as well as Old Goa.
The “Bonderam” festival is celebrated on Divar island on the fourth Saturday of August every year. The word “Bonderam” originated from the involvement of flags. “Bandeira” is the Portuguese word for the flag. It is stated that during the Portuguese rule in Goa there were frequent disputes between two sections of the Divar village, namely Sao Mathias and Piedade over property issues. These often led to violence and fights in the village. Subsequently, the Portuguese introduced a system of demarcation of boundaries with flags.
The rival groups, however, knocked down the demarcation flags sometimes with stones. Till now, in a parody of the past, this was commemorated with a “Fotash” fight (toy weapon of bamboo stem) and berries were used as missiles in a mock fight between rival groups to knock down an offending flag. However, today this practice has been stopped as it has resulted in eye injuries etc. although this bamboo ‘Fotash’ is still visible as part of the parade.
The festival spirit of Bonderam has already reached out to residents and sightseers alike creating a magical, sort of carnivally atmosphere where pageantry and celebration is the order of the day. At long last, the flag parade starts accompanied by the brass band. The Bonderam festival is declared open! The first of the groups moves forward, little children dancing to a typical Goan-Portuguese number followed by floats etc.
Divar has six wards and each ward in the island has its own float. This way, the parade moves forward with the cheering spectators falling over themselves to see and applaud the passing ensembles. Each section of the parade (six, one for each ward) has very distinct themes and music to go with it. I’ll let the pictures illustrate in greater detail.
The procession draws to a close and as it’s almost dark, the lights are shining brightly in all the homes and the stalls set up for today. The DJ has started revving up the volumes. Famous Bands from Goa also do perform. All the same, people are enjoying themselves.
Picture Credits: Nigel Dias, Alvaro Miranda, Eric D’souza