The taluka of Salcette was one of Portugal’s early conquests when they set foot in Goa. Not many know of the ethomology of the name Salcette. Salcette which means Sassast in Sanskrit refers to the number 66. Some guess that it probably got its name after the legend of the Goud Saraswat Brahmin families who settled in the Konkan region. From their large numbers, 66 families came to Salcette.

In this taluka, one can find many so called indo-portuguese houses. Huge balconies, an imposing entrance and beautiful furniture takes us back in time. It was in the halls of these houses that mando used to be performed.

During 451 years of colonial history, catholic Goans used music as a mediator of identity negotiation. In a political context repressing musical sonority of Indian flavour, in which Portuguese was the official language, catholic Goans created their own music, sung in Konkani and performed according to Portuguese models. Mandó is a good example of this and was able to acquire an emblematic status.

It would be commonly sung at social and religious occasions of the Catholics like weddings. The songs would relate to the occasion, singing praises of the beauty of the bride, a girl pining for her lover etc but was also a reminder of love-lost.

Francisco Sardinha: “Usually the themes of the mando are love stories or tragedies but in the case of this song, is more about love than tragedy. The lady talks about her boyfriend who is away.”

The themes of the mando are varied. A jilted lover crying, young lovers making sweet promises, lovers parting are enough to make you leave your inhibitions and become one with the emotions on display. Sometimes you feel like crying and sometimes you are left amused. A lot of the mandos have many Portuguese words which have entered into the everyday parlance of the people. The mandos of the later years also speak of political events and also take on a satirical tone.

 The ghumat and violin are vital to a Mando performance. The thump on the ghumot is the cue for the Mando to begin. The guitar is also used as an accompaniment to the mando. A glance at these instruments and you will see the fine blend of the Eastern and Western influence, of the foreign and native fusion which renders the mando unique.

Francisco Sardinha: “In the past when mandos were played at parties or weddings, there weren’t any guitars. The guitar came about later but the ghumot and violin were used since the beginning. Now a lot of other instruments are used like the bass guitar and other types of guitar.”

The women wear a panu baju or ‘torhop-baz’, made of silk and velvet, and a long sleeve blouse. The hair in neatly tied up in a bun with an embellishment stuck in. The look is completed with a fan in hand. The men wear suits with a bow tie or a necktie.

Two rows, one of women and one of men are formed. Sometimes it’s a combination of a pair of couple standing alongside each other. The women gently sway in their places. The men standing at a distance from the women eye the women, pretending to court them.

Francisco Sardinha: “In the old days the mando was composed and sung by a certain social class, generally the elite. Today all sing the mando. That this happens, is good and makes me happy. This is how we will be able to keep our culture alive.”

The mandos which have a  slow beat have fast paced ditties sung at the end of it which are called as dulpods. Apart from having a faster rhythm, the dulpods differ from the mando in the content of the songs. While the mandos represent a class living a sophisticated elegant lifestyle, the dulpods are more rustic in nature.

Francisco Sardinha: “The dulpods portrays different aspects of life. Sometimes they sing about politics, other times about village life or mock each other…In this dulpod we sing about a fisherwoman who is on her way to Mapusa. Then also refers to a flower basket. Instead of saying the flowers are flying with the wind, it says that the basket flew.In the dulpod’s last part, the man takes out his handkerchief  to show that he has won the women’s heart.”

Whether the Mando can be classified as a traditional folk performance has been debated often. One argument states that since the Mando has no indigenous links to Goa and since it began much later than other Goan traditional folk performances, the Mando cannot be considered a traditional folk performance. But the other side of the argument says the Mando’s music may have a Western flavour but the contents of the songs and the purpose for which they were sung are outright indigenous. 

Disputes aside, the mando still remains a much loved dance form of Goa. 

Go back to Traditional Dances of Goa

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