Objectionable Surajkund brochure withdrawn

| 17 January 2001 22:23 IST

The highly objectionable brochure on Goa released by the Haryana government, on the occasion of its prestigious Surajkund crafts mela, may be withdrawn immediately.

Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar has directed the local tourism authorities to convey his anguish to its Haryana counterpart over all kind of derogatory remarks made about Goa and Goans in the brochure.

Goa is the theme state of the 15-day long Surajkund mela this year, beginning from 1 February. Though the tourist state has also contributed around Rs 40 lakh towards the mega event, surprisingly no Goan official was reportedly consulted while preparing the brochure.

"Welcome to Goa, the land of taverns, feni, carnival, churches and carefree Goanese", states the brochure while adding further that "there are hundreds of taverns all over Goa, an integral part of carefree Goan life. The most popular drink is feni, a local brew distilled from cashew or coconut".

While it has also published a photograph of a drinking Goan which gives an impression that Goans are drunkards, the brochure also states that "authentic Goanese cuisine will be the highlight of the Mela, accompanied by feni and live Goanese bands".

The Haryana authorities have not even bothered to find out that Goans hate calling themselves Goanese, the word used by their former Portuguese rulers. In fact concerned Goan officials ignore total ignorance over anything taking place at Surajkund.

The festival is being described as "a splendid Goanese feast of colour, craft and cuisine # full of fun and feni". The organisers have even published that "Goa is Indian in as much as it is not", focussing more on its westernised culture of the minority Catholic community.

But even the Christian culture here is being distorted. Describing famous carnival of Goa, the brochure states that it "is a time to shed all cares. Boisterous youngsters form groups to create a riot of colours and music. They move from street to street, gathering momentum as crowds join them. Dances like the waltz, samba, tango and the jive forgotten elsewhere in India have stayed alive here".

"An agreeable climate, unique cuisine, amiable people, vibrant folk culture manifest in rigorous Konkani folk songs and languid dances reminiscent from Portuguese India, a rich musical tradition # Christianity and Hinduism, fairs and feasts are parts of Goa's identity", also states the brochure, but without emphasising much on the real folk forms among both the communities.

Reacting sharply to the Delhi-based news reports that appeared in the local newspapers, Parrikar immediately summoned the tourism director, instructing him to get the brochure withdrawn from circulation at the venue of the festival, held annually at the outskirts of Delhi.

"We have not only told them to withdraw the brochure but send a copy of the new brochure before it goes for print", said S S Keshkamat, the tourism director. He said the state also would not allow sale of feni at the stalls but only its display in attractive bottles.

Parrikar, who has refused to financially contribute to the event further as he is having own reservation about it, says that he was actually planning to withdraw from the festival, but changed his mind as his predecessor had already made several commitments in this regard. He suspects it to be a racket of his IAS officers rather than a serious attempt to promote the state.

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