Wednesday 15 June 2011

SDBs without DB?

Fr Tony D'Souza gave us a recollection talk yesterday, reflecting with us about the Relic Pilgrimage of Don Bosco. He said he was not completely comfortable with this pilgrimage. He was talking from his experience of living in an Arab world. There they were not allowed any pictures or statues of Don Bosco. They could not even use the name Don Bosco. They had to become Don Bosco. And it worked. Salesian presence, in his experience, was powerfully effective. The Preventive System, in the sense of the rejection of physical punishment, was another powerfully effective thing in the Arab world. The message of forgiveness was almost new in that world, and startlingly effective. When you are not allowed to use statues and pictures, you are forced to go within, discover the treasure within, become Don Bosco. And the most moving experience was to be told by the parents: You are Don Bosco for us.

I myself recall a young girl in the same school, who gave me a note on one of my visits: "I leave Home I in the morning, and I reach Home II." She had understood in her own way part of the saying that any Salesian House is a Home, a School, a Playground, a Church...

Where to hide a leaf?

A famous general who had never lost a battle suddenly lost one - and hundreds of his men were killed. Fr Brown's conclusion: "Where to hide a leaf if not in a forest? Where to hide a book if not in a library? Where to hide a murder if not in a massacre?" And so it turned out to be. The general had killed a fellow in a duel, and to hide the fact, he had sent a whole company to engage the enemy at that spot. 

The beauty of being useless

There is a Zen story about a carpenter and his apprentice. One day as they were walking through a forest, they stopped to take rest under a shady tree. The tree was tall and huge and gnarled and old and beautiful.

The carpenter asked his apprentice: "Do you know why this tree is so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and so beautiful?

The apprentice looked at the tree, thought for a while and replied, "I do not know sir, please tell me the reason."

"Well," answered the carpenter, "this tree is so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and so beautiful because it is useless. If it had been useful, it would have been cut down, and people would have made tables, chairs and other things with it. But because it is useless it could grow so tall and so beautiful and you can sit in its shade and relax." 

Sunday 12 June 2011

The unexpected character of the Resurrection

The unique character of the NT testimony: Jesus has not returned to a normal human life in this world like Lazarus and the others whom he raised from the dead. He has entered upon a different life, a new life. "[H]e has entered the vast breadth of God himself, and it is from there that he reveals himself to his followers." (Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, II [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011] 244-5)

For the disciples too this was something utterly unexpected. Jewish faith did indeed know of a resurrection of the dead at the end of time. "New life was linked to the inbreaking of a new world and thus made complete sense. If there is  new world, then there is also a new mode of life there. But a resurrection into definitive otherness in the midst of the continuing old world was not foreseen and therefore at first made no sense. So the promise of resurrection remained initially unintelligible to the disciples."  (Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, 245)

Monday 6 June 2011

Jagom or runeala plum

This is the jagoma, or runeala plum, or coffee plum. Latin name flacourtia jangomas. Flourishes in Goa, planted in Nashik, but barely flowers and never fruits. Grows better in Mumbai, perhaps because of similar climatic conditions as Goa, but haven't seen the fruits as yet. Haven't seen it anywhere else in India. Lovely fruit. Brownish berries, larger than karvandas as a rule, with karvanda-like seeds. We used to roll them between the palms to soften them before eating...

Just learned from a site that the flowers are unisexual... That might be a reason for the lack of fruiting... See

Sunday 5 June 2011

Pal-ponos or soursop

Someone just forwarded to me something amazing about a fruit that I love very much, but that many others hate: we used to call it pal-ponos, and now I learn that it is called Guyabano in South America, or Soursop in English, or even Graviola. It is supposed to be a cure for cancer. If it is, great. At any rate, I love the sour-sweet taste. A neighbour of ours had a tree in their compound, and they cut it down. Perhaps Pratap Naik has one in the Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendra, but it is not native to Goa, so.... But then neither is the cashew....

Wednesday 1 June 2011

The pano-baju or tudup-baju

Recently in Goa, for the farewell of our parish priest, the young folk of the parish put up a manddo. The girls were elegantly dressed in the tudup-baju. When I asked some senior ladies about the origin of this dress, I was surprised to hear them confessing their ignorance. "We don't know where it comes from. We have only seen people from Salcete wearing this dress when they sing manddos."

Here is what A.B. de Braganca Pereira (Ethnography of Goa, Daman and Diu, tr. Maria Aurora Couto [Penguin / Viking, New Delhi, 2008] 82-83 has to say on the matter of 'Christian dress' in Goa:
In dress, native Christian women differ little from their Hindu counterparts except that they wear the sari without the kas (pano-palo) in which the end which is taken between the thighs is not secured at the back of the waist. 
About the tudup-baju or pano-baju, this is what he has to say:
... Pano-baju is a kind of dress that is not elegant at all and consists of a garment (saraca or toddop) that covers the body only from the waist downwards (and is called fota), made of rich material such as velvet embroidered with gold thread, a tisso and a quimao [shirt without collar or buttons]. It is worn by Brahmin and Chardo women who do not wear frocks - the former wear pano-baju and the latter, especially in Salcete, wear white cloth with a red or black border. Rich women of the lower classes also wear pano-baju.
It would seem then that the pano-baju or tudup-baju was an alternative to the sari (worn without the kashti) and to European dress. Though Braganca Pereira notes that rich Christian women of the lower classes also wear this dress, I think the caste association has perdured: not many years ago, I heard some snide remarks being passed by 'upper caste' Catholics about 'lower caste' Catholics wearing the pano-baju for a manddo performance.

Why this difference in dress between Hindu and Christian women in Goa? One of the reasons was certainly the church. Braganca Pereira quotes, in fact, from the Edict of the Inquisition of Goa, of 14 April 1736, decreeing that Christians should wear modified forms of the Hindu dress (see p. 83).

But: the dress is quite elegant, if I may say so, despite Braganca Pereira.... 

A pair of old novels in Konkani

Found at my house in Zosvaddo, Soccorro, Goa, bound together in a single volume, two Konkani novelettes in Roman script:
  • Colaco, Alfonso. Bavart. Bandra, Bombay: Alco Brothers, n.d. [But the novel is dedicated to the author's father, Jose Colaco, who died on 17 February 1942.] Price: Rs 1/8/0. 
  • De Elly, Elliott. Porton Ailo Mohemcar!! Calljidar Cortubanchi Forsadic Romans. Bombay: M.R. Afra De Sa, n.d. Price: Rs 1/4/0. [The mohemcar belongs to the pre-Lenten Carnival tradition in Goa - people dressed up, or 'masked'. In my holidays as a boy in the village of Carrem, I still remember something of this tradition: the boys and girls would powder their faces and go around the village; they were called mohemcars. Now perhaps there is only the somewhat commercialized Carnival in Panjim and other places.]
Not very precious, but still, interesting. I am putting them into the Divyadaan Library in the Konkani section. 

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Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary