By Babal Gawade
Savoi-Verem as a village situated 15 kms away from Ponda and 30 kms from Panjim. It is actually a combined named village consisting of Savoi (Village) and Verem (Village). Previously our village Panchayat was called Savoi-Verem Panchayat but now it is called Verem-Vagurme Panchayat as Vagurme is also part of our village Panchayat which has two Panchayat wards. It is having population of about 3000 people.
Mine is a beautiful village with Kulagars (Arecanut Plantations) and beautiful hills. There is a beautiful hill called Khetco which is at a considerable height and gets cool breeze throughout the year. Village is partitioned by Mandovi River tributary on one side and by beautiful hills other side.
One upon a time…
Village once was owned by Gawdas but today it is owned by Bamons (Saraswat Brahmins) and Bhats (Karade Brahmins).
Story of land alienation
There are two stories about how Gawada was eliminated from the village. One story says Gawada family owned the total land in the village when there was no Baman or Bhat. This Gawada Family was a single family. They had a daughter. When she reached marriageable age her father was in search of a suitable match. One boy from neighboring village ie now Sateri Bhat from Render (Toddy Tapper) clan showed his desire to marry this girl. But the father of girl refused as boy was not from Gawada community. But the boy insisted on getting married which was totally rejected by the girl’s family. There was feud over this issue between the Gawada family and Render clan.
This Gawada family had one good friend from Satarkar clan (in Sattari). The Gawada family sought the help of this Satarkar friend to teach a lesson to the render clan people. Thus there was a big fight with render clan on one side, and Gawada family and Satarkar clan on the opposite side. This resulted into the defeat of render clan.
Satarkar clan members stayed for some days in Gawada village as his guests. They liked the serene beauty and nature of the village and felt like staying in the village permanently. As they were guests of the Gawada family they were not able to stay in the village permanently. One evil thought came to their mind: of eliminating Gawada family and capturing the village. Thus one day they triggered a fight and defeated Gawada family as they were more in number.
After the defeat Gawada family felt unsafe in the village to stay and they fled away. Satarkars became the sole owners of the village. Thus according to this story, the betrayal by Sattrakars was solely responsible for the migration of Gawada family from Savoi-Verem village.
The Second Story of land alienation
There is another story regarding the Gawadas owning the village. Gawada family was in the possession of land Patta of Savoi-Verem village. One day on Bamon (Saraswat Brahmin) visited the village and became friendly to Gawdas, took all the information about the village, saw all the boundaries of the village, took Gawada family head into confidence and took the land patta from Gawda head and killed him with the help of Sattarkar member. After killing he was buried at the Bhutkhamb border of Savoi-Verem village. Still there is a small memorial-like structure at this place. After the head of the Gawada family was killed, his wife and daughter fled from the village but nobody knew as to where they fled. As a remembrances to his departed soul every year on Gudi padva day (Hindu New Year Day) cock is sacrificed at his place by the Gawada community members from Kulan (part of Savoi-Verem village) who are the mundkars of Savoi.
Besides this, in the month of Pausha on New Moon day (Amousa) half cooked rice (Choru) is spread along the road from bhutkhamb (burial place of Gawada head) to the other end of border of village i.e. Betki village – distance of about 4 kms. This ritual is performed by Satarkars till day every year. It is believed that after the killings of Gawada community head there was not a single Gawada member in the village from Bhutkamb to Betki. Betki has a large population of Gawada community which comes under jurisdiction of Betki-Khandola Panchayat. Other side i.e. Bhutkamb which comes under jurisdiction of Keri Panchayat there is a large population of Gawada community.
Today in Savoi-Verem
Today in Savoi-Verem village there is hardly any population of Gawada community. Total Gawada population is about 250 only out of approximate total of 3000. Till today there is feeling among the Gawada community in whole of Goa that Sattarkars are treacherous and cannot be trusted.
Today the status of Gawada in village is very bad. They are as good as slaves of Brahmins and Bhats. They are totally dependent on them for everything. They are employed as labourers or as domestic help with Bamon and Bhats. Till today Bamons and bhats are exploiting them like anything. Gawadas there have no thinking of their own. Their master’s thoughts are supreme.
In Goa legislative assembly Gawada representatives have been elected but till today there is no improvement in the living condition of the Gawada community members in Savoi-Verem village or for that matter in any village where Gawadas are staying.
In our village Gawadas are distributed in small two wados i.e. Savoi and Kulan wado. Kulan wado has their own Mand where festivals like Shigmo, Dhendlo, and rituals like Gavponn etc takes place. Savoi wado people join their rituals as it is a combined Mand of both wados.
The latest story of land alienation
There is another story of Kulan wado which was owned by Gawadas. Patta of Kulan wado was in the name of Gawadas members. But was taken away by Shetye family by betraying the Gawada members and Shetye (Bamon) became the new owners of Kulan wado. Half Kulan is owned by Shetye and half by Sinari (Bamon) Basically Kulan consists of areca nut plantation and cashew plantations. Today Shetye has turned areca nut plantation into spice plantations which is called Savoi plantation which is a big tourist’s attraction mostly for foreigners.
Making of a millionaire
One Gawada family is shifted from this Kulagar to expand his plantation depriving him of his livelihood as he was surviving on products like areca nuts, bananas, pineapples, coconuts etc. There is a beautiful natural spring and lake next to the plantation. There is water for the spring throughout the year. Shetye family has become millionaire because of the plantation as it is frequented by the foreign tourists whereas Gawadas have become mere slaves of Shetye. Younger generation has become habitual drunkards as Shetye is offering them hard drinks so that the younger generation is finished.
Presented at two days workshop on ‘Land, Mining and Adivasis in Goa’ organized by Mand – An Adivasi-rights Resource Centre, an initiative of Gawda, Kunbi, Velip, Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) to be held from 24-25 November 2007 at Panjim.