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OPINION
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Vol No CIX No: 87 Goa, Saturday 28 March, 2009

Pg8 Myth and Art at Santa Monica in Goa
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TEOTÓNIO R DE SOUZA recounts the history of the Monastery of Santa Monica and draws attention to its artistic riches
Augustinian convent accounts for the 17th century at the Goa Historical Archives, I could find a Hindu carpenter paid 9 xerafins for producing an altar retable in the sacristy, and 530 xerafins for painting and gilding a retable of St Anne (July 1614). There are several other such entries, but no names of the artists so far. Fr Diogo de Santa Ana was the grand planner and executor of Santa Monica project. He was a very dynamic and resourceful person. He even claimed that, as deputy of the Inquisition, his religious superiors had no jurisdiction over him to comply with the deportation orders of the Governor. The government resorted to the threat of confiscating and auctioning all the land properties of the convent, depriving the nuns of their sustenance. It was against this background that an unholy hysteria produced an incident in 1636 that is still recalled by the “weeping crucifix” that is still preserved in the church of the monastery. An account of that miracle was divulged by the same monk and published in Lisbon in 1640. It appeared to be an orchestrated campaign of the Auto da Fé style to drum up public emotions against the State and city authorities in order to protect the “unjustly” persecuted nuns. In his conference on 23 March, Prof Vitor Serrão drew special attention to the Chapel of Holy Trinity, which continues to be used by the Sisters presently in Mater Dei Institute. Heta Pandit had referred to it in her In and Around Old Goa and even included a rare painting of Trinity in which all three Persons look identical, a veritable translation of Hindu Trimurti. The three Persons can be identified only with symbols (Sun, lamb and dove) represented in round gold-coloured medallions which they hold in hands. The chapel belonged originally to the novitiate wing of the monastery. The walls of the chapel were adorned with paintings of various scenes of the Holy Family with local cultural flavour. In another scene, for instance, on the corridor ceiling covered with biblical scenes, the fatted calf is replaced with a fatted Goan pig to celebrate the return of the prodigal son. Vitor Serrão suggests Flemish influences in the paintings, from Johannes Sadeler to Adriaen Collaert, and from Cornelis Cort to brothers Wierix. While many of these frescoes await recovery, the gallery of 48 portrait-type mural frescoes on the ceiling of the convent dining hall were luckier. The restoration remained incomplete when the onemonth course conducted by the Lucknow School of Restoration ended! Perhaps the Portuguese foundations and scholars could take up the challenge proposed by Prof Vitor Serrão in his conference and do something more tangible for the heritage they cherish and proclaim? rofessor Vitor Serrão, a prominent Portuguese art historian, delivered a public lecture last Mon day, 23 March, at the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts, reporting his findings during his first research visit to Goa a couple of years ago. He was invited to participate in a seminar to mark the fifth birth centenary of St Francis Xavier. He had used that research visit profitably, to visit two historic places that interested him most – namely, the Monastery of Santa Monica (presently Mater Dei) and the Historical Archives of Goa. He was enchanted by what he saw and found. I had the privilege of sharing some academic and friendly advice with the scholar before he left for Goa. My sharing was based on my personal long-term familiarity with both those institutions. I had the rare privilege of being a visiting professor of Church History to the nuns studying at Mater Dei for 15 years till I left Goa. My week-long courses with residential facilities inside the monastery gave me the rare opportunity to appreciate the historic wealth of that institution, including its architectural and artistic treasures, besides the traditional conventual culinary charms. These sojourns permitted me to countercheck many of my readings about the fascinating history of that Augustinian nunnery: from the motives of its founding, through suggestive reports of child skeletons in the tunnel linking the male and female monasteries, till the scandalous rebellion of 62 nuns who left the cloister for some days in protest against the behavior of Archibishop Ignacio de S Theresa in 177173. The protesting nuns sought the mediation of the Jesuits and I had a look at a detailed report of the Jesuit Fr Francisco Maria del Rosso about alleged scandals. This unpublished report can be found in the Jesuit archives in Rome. More recently, in the mid-19th century, Richard Burton, who spent three hours with the nuns, trying in vain to peep into the cloisters, gave vent to his frustration by depicting the Shiroda nautch girls and the Santa Monica nuns in his typical lewd style. The nunnery was set up at the dawn of the 17th century, when Portuguese imperial fortunes were beginning to decline, confronted by the English and the Dutch who also emboldened the native chieftains to gain courage and resist more effectively. The difficulty of finding well-employed bridegrooms was compounded by the declining fortunes of the empire. For long-term Portuguese settlers, known as casados, the difficulties were compounded by the orphan girls which the king of Portugal would send in regular batches to Asian settlements with instructions to the local

onight, millions of people from all over the world will shut off their lights for one hour, from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm. It’s called Earth Hour. And it is meant to be a call to world leaders that their people want action on the climate change. Starting with the lights on the historic Sydney Harbour Bridge, this wave of darkness will roll slowly around the world till the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco on the USA’s west coast. On the way, Beijing’s ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium, the India Gate, the Pyramids of Giza, the Acropolis, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and Niagara Falls will all go dark at the appointed hour. They are among the major landmarks in 84 countries that have agreed to observe Earth Hour. Earth Hour was first introduced in Sydney, Australia, two years ago. That year, just 2.2 million people – around half the population of the city – switched off their lights. This year, over 2 billion are expected to dim their lights and add their voices to the growing call for action on global warming. And, this year, it isn’t starting in Australia. Officially, Earth Hour will start at 6.45 am GMT (12.15 pm in India) at Chatham Island, a tiny Pacific island 800 kilometres southeast of New Zealand. The island will mark the Hour by switching off its diesel generators at 8:30 pm local time. Why is this year’s Earth Hour so important? In December 2009, a UNorganised conference in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is meant to approve a new global warming treaty for the period after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol – an international agreement that places obligations on participating countries to cut carbon emissions – expires. But a number of countries, including the USA, China and India – the world’s three largest producers of greenhouse gases – haven’t signed the Kyoto Protocol. With the departure of George W Bush from the White House, the position of the US on the question of global warming is now expected to change, creating a unique opportunity for real change in Copenhagen. That is why UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged citizens around the world to observe Earth Hour. He says it will be “the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever attempted”, and that it is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message that they want action on climate change. Event organiser Andy Ridley looks at it as a “referendum on the issue”. The enthusiasm may be infectious, but by no means is it unanimous. The event has its critics, who say that it is little more than empty symbolism. Director of the think-tank Copenhagen Consensus Centre Prof Bjorn Lomborg has claimed that the use of candles during the hour could actually produce more carbon emissions than electric lights! What he says is probably true. Others would point out the hypocrisy of those who would turn off their lights at the appointed hour, but not their air-conditioners… But that isn’t the point at all. When millions of people living in over 2,800 cities in 84 countries all put off their lights at the appointed time and propel that wave of darkness across the globe, it sends a powerful message. It shows that the issue matters. Earth hour may be just symbolism, but it certainly isn’t empty. It is a massive awareness-raising exercise. Earth Hour is not about saving energy or reducing carbon emissions through one event. It is about spreading awareness of the need to save energy. Simple steps, taken collectively, can reduce carbon emissions. From turning off lights, fans and air-conditioners when you leave a room or your office, to turning off your TV or music system rather than leaving it on standby (appliances kept on standby consume three-fourths of the power they normally do). In India, a large number of corporates have pledged to observe Earth Hour. The roster starts with India’s largest, the Tata Group. HP, ITC, ING Vysya Bank, HSBC, PVR Cinemas, Wipro, Google, Nokia, Intel and a host of others, including even the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, have pledged to dim their lights at the appointed hour. And what about you; will you put off your lights today for an hour at 8.30 pm?

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Put off your lights at 8.30 pm today

HERALD

HISTORICAL EXPLORATIONS
governments to find life partners for them. Portugal was solving its problem at home, but was adding to the woes of the colonial settlers. It was against this socio-economic background that the Municipal Council decided to plead before the king to set up the nunnery of Santa Monica. The city council justified the request “to enable the daughters of the poor and respectable Portuguese settlers who were left without means to offer decent dowries to their many daughters, to praise God through lives consecrated to virginity and evangelical perfection”. The Augustinian archbishop D Aleixo de Meneses of Synod of Diamper notoriety was particularly interested in the project of the nunnery and two other homes for protecting orphan girls and “repentant” women of lost virtue. He got his way in 1606 when he was called upon to function as interim governor. Even though he left Goa in 1610, the project was carried forward and completed by an enterprising Augustinian Fr Diogo de Santa Ana, against much hostility of the city councilors who resented the trend of rich widows entering the convent, leaving the growing number of eligible bachelors high and dry. They obliged the nuns in 1634 to sign a notarial deed obliging them to restrict the number of inmates to one hundred, and no new entrants would bring in land property that could add to 8000 cruzados of revenue to the convent. Each new novice could bring up to a thousand pardaus in cash and other values. The viceroy Count of Linhares backed the city council, but the Augustinian archbishop and protector of the nuns refused to sign the accord dictated by the municipality. As reported at length in the published diary of the viceroy Count of Linhares, Fr Diogo de Santa Ana was the mastermind behind the resistance of the nuns and religious superiors. He sent a written Apologia to the king. Prof Vitor Serrão and his fellow-researcher Maria Adelina Amorim have traced a couple of copies of this unpublished manuscript in the archives of Lisbon. They regard the text as the best source for documenting much of the architectural and art treasures of this monastery, including the well-known Pelican monstrance of the Museum of Sacred Art. Perhaps the most important discovery of Vitor Serrão is the identification of Aleixo Godinho and João Peres as two painters who worked for the Augustinians in Goa during 1606-1639. Until now it was believed that Manuel Godinho Heredia referred by the Portuguese archivistchronicler was one of them. We have to await further confirmation, which could come from the archival records in Goa or elsewhere. When I consulted the

Tongue in Cheek

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Voter’s Code of Conduct
called a ‘foreigner’ residing in India – in other words he/she loses his/ her citizenship. 4. Voters should decide the candidate they want to vote for much before the election date.  5. Female voters should not be influenced by the distribution of sarees while the male voters should not be influenced by distribution of crisp notes. 6. Voters should not read any election-related posters they may come across. If possible, they should report the presence of such posters to the State Election Commission. 7. Those who are addicted to the bottle that cheers should not be influenced by the free distribution of liquor bottles. 8. Promise every candidate who comes to your doorstep that you will vote for him/her. But since you can vote for only one candidate, choose the right one. If politicians can break several promises after the elections, why can’t the voter break just one before the elections? 9. It is understood that there will be 43 million first-time voters for these elections. These voters have the opportunity to have a large say in the formation of the next government. The youth should thus come out in large number to exercise their franchise on polling day. 10. On election day voters should not head to the nearest beach but to the

By Adelmo Fernandes

ith elections round the corner the Election Commission has put forth the Model Code of Conduct for the politicians and the political parties they are affiliated to. It is like the “Ten Commandments” which the politicians are expected to follow, the difference being that the Model Code of Conduct has more than ten directives. Not obeying them will not land them in hell but the EC can make life a living hell for the erring politicians. But then it must be said that the electorate forms as much a part of the election process as do the politicians. As a matter of fact the voters could be considered more important than the candidates standing for the elections. What would the politicians do if all the voters decide to boycott the elections? This has occurred in some villages in the country in the past. If the voters are important in the democratic process of elections, why not have a code of conduct for the voters as well? The Model Code of Conduct for the voters could read something like this. 1. Every adult citizen should compulsorily possess a voter’s card. Not possessing one would be as good as not being a citizen of the country. 2. The Election Photo Identity Card should have space to make entries every time the voter exercises his franchise. 3. Not voting for two consecutive elections could result in the voter being

Empty vessels
R Fernandes, Margao
With reference to the article “Empty vessels make the most noise’ by Uday Bhembre (Herald, 23 Mar), the author should note that the land was acquired and handed over to Cidade for a consideration. The agreement was made to safeguard the public interest and not Cidade’s interest (Cidade was the only one to gain monetarily), and hence the conditions in the agreement. Cidade wilfully violated the agreement by constructing concrete structures and further recruited personnel and failed to inform them and their chartered flight partners that they had undertaken illegal works, jeopardising their interests. Cidade failed to allow the ‘public’ to use these facilities, either by direct refusal or by charging fees far in excess to ordinary people’s paying capacity. Besides, today a motorable path with parking facilities is a minimum requirement

for proper access to the beach. It is these issues that any ordinance should have addressed, with a view to protecting public interest. To suggest that the Ordinance as issued was prepared in wisdom is to compete very hard with ‘empty’ vessels. Wisdom would have been in having taken legal action against Cidade the day the agreement was violated. When the agreement was first made, all parties were consulted. Hence, if the agreement was to be reviewed, all parties, including the public, should have been consulted. Empty vessels may be noisy, but it is interesting to see the kind of noises emanating from our “full vessels”. We must conclude Goa has no true intelligentsia, only pretenders to that status.

Letter of the Day
James Moraes, Cuncolim

Education as business

be given by the government at least on a caseto-case basis after considering the actual facts instead of solely relying on surveys?

Letters to the Editor
Words of Wisdom
Rachel Carson

nearest polling booth. 11. Since election time is notified as dry days, those associated with the liquor business should see to it that even the back door of their business premises is closed. 12. Compulsive drinkers should not stock liquor bottles at home before the dry days. Dry days should be adhered to in letter and in spirit, and hence one should keep away from the spirit. 13. At every election it is seen that it is the old and the physically challenged who show more enthusiasm on polling day than the young and able-bodied. Everyone should be equally involved. 14. Those having four-wheelers should take the old and physically challenged people to the polling booths. The old and the infirm should not travel by vehicles provided by the candidates. The electorate is not answerable to any commission, unlike the politicians, who are answerable to the Election Commission. The voters cannot be debarred from taking part in the electoral process for violating the Voter’s Code of Conduct. But then the worst ‘punishment’ the electorate can be subjected to is being governed by the wrong people for the next five years, till the next elections. So, be judicious and choose the right candidate.

Election tamasha
Efigenio Dias, Colva
With the Lok Sabha Elections fast approaching, the Collectors, Mamlatdars, and their subordinates and staff are very busy with preparations for elections. The administration work, as well as cases, are also totally or partially affected, causing great loss to the affected people and litigants. Politicians are taking advantage of the election campaign, making promises for development and for bringing new legislation. But after elections, all promises remain unfulfilled by the elected representatives.

Pathetic cover
Ayesha Madon, Parra
Sujay Gupta’s articles on Goa and the Goan way of life are, to put it mildly, shallow and patronising. His weekly eulogies in Herald Mirror are nothing short of an insult to Goans. His forays into little-known bars and family-owned restaurants serving the most authentic bebinca and the best xitt-kori are a pathetic cover for what he really is – a representative of the mining lobby. If he cares for his ‘adopted’ home as he professes to, he should put his pen to better use. You can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

100 Years Ago

PRIMEIRO DIARIO NAS COLONIAS PORTUGEZAS

28 March 1909
Theft in Fontainhas
Yesterday night a theft occurred in Fontainhas. The burglars decamped with 10 quintals of rice and some other valuables.

After Goa attained statehood, all aided schools had to change to imparting primary education compulsorily in Konknni or lose aid from the government. Today the Govt of Goa provides aid to Marathi-medium as well as Kannada-medium schools but not to English-medium schools. Keeping their children’s futures in mind, most middle-class families opted for English-medium private schools to get the best education. But today these schools have turned into business houses. One clear example is Vidya Vikas, Margao, which has hiked the school fees by 78 per cent, putting them beyond the reach of the middle class. This is being done in the name of the Sixth Pay Commission and quality education. Teachers do deserve a good pay package on par with teachers in aided schools, and this can be easily met with the present tuition fees. The representative from VVA says that the management has so far not charged rent for the school building, which works out to Rs 51 lakhs. But the management should note that parents have paid huge amounts towards the building fund for every child and the land where the building stands has been acquired by the government and handed over to the management. Now is the time for parents to get together and oppose the fee hike, forgetting that the management will harass their wards in school. Parents should note that the Delhi High Court has already given a judgment in favour of parents in a similar case in a private school. All parents have a good opportunity to make a demand during this election to convert all aided schools back to English medium, at the same time protecting our mother tongue by making Konknni a compulsory subject. This will teach a good lesson to all private schools. The government should also see that all private schools are governed by the Goa Education Act, as this Act is also applicable to all private schools, irrespective of their board of examination. done from the government. If so, why has it taken him over five years to get the agricultural land at Duler transferred to the GFA? And why is he seeking help of his president to achieve this, even though, according to his press statements, the GFA President could not get the land in own constituency for the academy. Mr Messias’s statements to the press are just an attempt to hoodwink the public and cover up the mess in the GFA. them on top of it, alive, and making sure they never come down again!

Distorted ideologies
Freddy Agnelo Fernandes, Dubai
The Shri Ram Sene (SRS) claims to follow an ideology of protecting India from the influence of Western culture. Supported by the communal BJP and the more action-oriented members of the saffron brigade, they have taken on themselves the rights of not just moral policemen, but also those of judge, jury and the executioner, all rolled into one. The attack on the girls in Mangalore has clearly exemplified the SRS’s hatred and distorted perceptions. What sort of a society do we live in, where girls are pulled out, abused and bashed? It is even more disgusting to know that the law and the government did nothing about it. Now the Ram Sena has set its sight on our beloved Goa, and a few fellow-travellers from our side of the fence, birds of a feather like the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and the Sanatan Sanstha, have pledged their support. I hope and pray that Ravi Naik sticks to his word and does all he can to prevent these creatures from entering Goa. At the moment we have enough monkeys on our backs, whom we are fighting to tackle and contain, and could very well do without adding some more. We just cannot allow these sort of distorted ideologies, breeding cultural and communal resentment, in our beloved Goa.

Foreign trade debate

GFA mess(ias)
Filomeno Cascio Barreto, Navelim
I have read the comments from Savio Messias, Honorary Secretary, GFA, blaming AIFF and the President of his own Association, Joaquim Alemao, for failing to secure the transfer of land for the Football Academy at Cuncolim. Maybe Mr Messias could answer a few questions. What has happened to the GFA academy which he launched with so much fanfare? After spending around Rs 10 lakh on this project, why was it abandoned? Is it true that the boys and the coaches were not paid traveling allowances? What is the outcome of the Youth Development programme, started by GFA, by adopting schools in different parts of Goa? Mr Messias appears to know how to get things

Define ‘private forest’
Tony Alvaro, Mapusa
With reference to the letter of Charles Fernandes on the above subject in Herald, it is necessary first of all for the authorities concerned to define clearly and unambiguously the criteria for private forest. All applications for sanads, especially of small plot owners, which have been marked as private forest by the Sawant-Karapurkar Committee are referred to the Forest Dept for NOC, without even considering the ground realities. The Forest Dept refuses the same as the matter is sub judice. The small plot owners are prevented from having a roof over their heads for absolutely no reason. Would it not spur demand for housing, especially in these times of recession if relief could

Mr Harold Cox, of the Chamber of Deputies, has asked if there were any attempts to induce France to treat Indian merchandise on par with that of other countries.

Tilak is Hindustan’s pride

On the horizons of Hindustan, the personality of Bal Gangadhar Tilak shines forth. He is the owner and editor of Kesari (The Lion), a native weekly with a circulation far largerthan any other Indian newspaper.

Politicians’ pedestal
Robert Castellino, Calangute
Our patriotic politicians acted with commendable alacrity in scuttling the plans of Kannada film maker Hemanth Hegde to erect a 67-foot statue of ‘Christian’ Charlie Chaplin, in Baindur, Udupi, as the installation would hurt Hindu sentiments. We should honour these patriotic politicians by erecting a 67-foot pedestal and putting all of

Marathi/Gujarati exams

A jury has been nominated to conduct the final examinations of the 2nd degree of primary instruction in Marathi and Gujarati.

Earth Hour is an annual international initiative, created by the World Wildlife Fund, that asks households and businesses across the world to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour at an appointed time to raise awareness of the need to take action on climate change. Today, Saturday, 28 March, 1100 cities around the globe (including Mumbai and Delhi) are joining the campaign and switching off lights for one hour at 8.30 pm. On this occasion, we bring to you extracts from the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, which can be said to have started the modern environmental movement. “The history of life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings. To a large extent, the physical form and habits of the earth’s vegetation have been molded by the environment. Considering the whole span of earthly time, the opposite effect, in which life actually modifies its surroundings, has been relatively light. Only within the moment of time represented by the last century has one species – man – acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world. “During the past quarter century this power has not only increased to one of disturbing magnitude but it has changed in character. The most alarming of all assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible... “It took hundreds of millions of years to produce the life that now inhabits the earth – eons of time in which that developing and evolving and diversifying life reached a state of adjustment and balance with its surroundings. The environment, rigorously shaping and directing the life it supported, contained elements that were hostile as well as supporting. Given time – time not in years but in millenia – life adjusts, and a balance has been reached. For time is the essential ingredient; but in the modern world there is no time.”

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