Although Mumbai houses a large population of Goans, their native language Konkani has seen a gradual decline over the years. English has replaced the original mother tongue in most Goan homes and the chances of finding a household where parents converse with their young children in Konkani are minuscule. But this hasn't deterred Goans in the city from celebrating Konkani Day every year.
"Konkani is a dying language today, as sadly, most Goans are embarrassed to communicate in it. Our celebration every year aims to revive the language through various events," says Fausto Dacosta (53), of the Goan Review Art Foundation (GRAF), which has been spearheading the celebration for the last 18 years.
Though Konkani Day falls on August 20, this year, a delayed celebration will take place on October 1, at St Joseph Church, Sandhurst Road. Besides literary events, the festival will include performances of Goan folk dances like mando and rendition of dulpods (traditional songs). "The dances will be performed by children, some of whom may be non-Goans. Unfortunately, these days, Goans are not interested in participating in their own folk dances," rues Dacosta, adding, "We will also felicitate people who have rendered yeoman's service to Konkani. The emphasis of this year's celebration is 'Unity of the Konkanis' in Mumbai."
A major attraction at the Konkani Day celebrations will be the Goan cuisine on offer. "There will be stalls selling freshly prepared home delicacies like sorpotel, sanna, prawn balchao, xacuti, chicken cafreal and vindaloo," he says. To encourage maximum participation, there will be no entry charge this year.
"There was a time when our celebration would be attended by thousands of people. But now it has come down to a few hundred. So we chose a smaller venue this year," regrets Dacosta. But there seems to be hope for the language from unexpected quarters. "Even though Goans in Mumbai may not speak Konkani, but the migrants population from different states working in Goa speak it fluently. For all we know, they might become the ones who will keep our native language alive!," says Dacosta.