, , , , , , , , ,

Daman Day 2013 – Press Release


DAMAN, January 30th 2013: 2nd of February, the historical date (02.02.1559) when Damão first came to be, has been celebrated worldwide by Damanenses as ‘Dia de Damão’ (Daman Day) for centuries.

The festival is a celebration of the unique culture of the people of Daman and includes musical festivals, food festivals, traditional/folk dance performances, art & craft displays and various competitions that encourage artistic expressions of their culture.

The essence is celebration of all that is inherently old-world, ‘Damão’ – the sights, the sounds, the senses and the ‘saudades.’ The mandate – “Feel, think, breathe, live, eat and drink, to Damão!”

The celebrations begin in August, along with World Goa Day celebrations, in countries like the UK, US, UAE, Canada, and Holland among others, and culminate on Daman Day on the 2nd of February which is celebrated in Daman, Macau and Portugal.

The theme for Daman Day 2013 is “Viva Damao! Raise a toast to traditional Damanense cuisine!” The theme comprises a title and a subtitle. While the title, “Viva Damão” is permanent, the subtitle changes every year. The themes in the last few years have been:

2012: “Viva Damão! 100% Música Portuguesa!”

2011: “Viva Damão! Proud to be Damanense!”

2010: “Viva Damão! Eu falo Português!”

2009: “Viva Damão! Come, Discover Daman!”

2008: “Viva Damão! Keep the culture alive!”

Daman Day is a self-financed initiative of the Damanenses under the aegis of World Goa Day and its founder, UK-based Rene Barreto. Each participating country has a ‘Country Coordinator’ who is in constant touch with the Daman-based ‘Overall Coordinator’ and founder, Noel Gama.

Beginning last year, the organisers in Daman, teamed up with the Daman Municipal Council (DMC) to celebrate the event jointly as the council has already been sponsoring the traditional annual mass commemorating the feast of Our Lady of Purification and N S das Candeias every February 2nd at the DMC Square.

The event launches with high mass in honour of the patroness of the city, Our Lady of Purification at 6pm, followed by a cultural program showcasing Damanense folklore which will include a play in Portuguese, Damanense folklore and traditional Portuguese and Damanense dance performances by local artists and musicians.

More information can be found at www.Discover-Daman.com

Noel Gama
Overall Coordinator – Daman Day (Dia de Damao)


Portuguese language course in Daman

I’m happy to inform that I received a letter from the ambassador of Portugal acknowledging the receipt of my book, “Culture Wise INDIA,” and promising all help in starting Portuguese language course in Daman!


Visit of Ambassador of Portugal to Daman on 12th Nov 09

The ambassador of Portugal came on a one-day (unofficial) visit to Daman along with the Goa-based Consul General on the 12th of November 09.

Though I couldn’t meet them, I was able to get my letter, requesting their intercession for starting Portuguese language classes in Daman, delivered.

My well-connected, UK-based friend and fellow Damanense, Victor Fernandes, gave both, a moral boost and a real boost to the project by forwarding the letter to the University of Aveiro, the Associativismo Sem Fronteiras das Comunidades Portuguesas, the Ministry of External Affairs and a prominent social worker in Portugal.

Here’s the text of my letter:


12th November, 2009
Dr. …
(Camp: Daman)
Dear Dr…,
Boas Vindas!
I take this opportunity to present you a copy of my first book, Culture Wise INDIA: The Essential Guide to Culture, Customs & Business Etiquette (Survival Books, UK) which was released on Amazon in May but most important for me, the first copy debuted in Portugal on 18th July 2009 and found itself in the hands of my long-time friend and mentor, Dr. Adelino Rodrigues da Costa (chief of Fundação Oriente – Goa).
I have mixed feelings – I wanted so much for my first book to be on the topic closest to my heart – Damão! However, the book does something for Damão because it gives Damão its first book author.
Loyal as I am to Goa, Daman & Diu, I mentioned in my book how and why the culture in this former Portuguese colony is different from the rest of India. But no two fingers are alike and so it is with siblings. These cultural differences though subtle, lend Damão its uniqueness, giving its people an identity of their own – the Damanense! This is the premise and essence of my forthcoming book, Viva Damão! The Indo Portuguese Subculture of Daman.
I’d like to mention here, with gratitude, that Viva Damão and three others in the series, have their genesis in one of my Blog2Book projects launched by the late Pedro Cabral Adão, former Consul General of Portugal at the commemorative function of National Day of Portugal, of Camões and of the Portuguese Community, in Daman on the 10th of June 2006.
Like my fellow Damanenses, I’m proud of my Portuguese heritage – the forts, the churches, the architecture, etc. – but what are these without culture? Our fort may not have made it into the elite Seven Wonders of the Portuguese World but it is culture that breathes life into monuments. And the Indo Portuguese culture of Damão is by far more Portuguese than that of Goa and Diu and thrives without sponsored efforts of any institution.
But there’s more…  our culture has spilled over to foreign shores, the UK in particular, and thrives there too. British community leaders are frequent observers at our social and cultural events, especially in Leicester and Peterborough where the concentration of Damanenses is densest – adaption is not on their agenda; they have adoption in mind! The worldwide success of World Daman Day 2008 & 2009 bear testimony to that.
But of all the cultural facets – art, religion, tradition, custom, language, music, cuisine, architecture and attire – language is not just the binding glue that holds it all together, it is the conduit through which culture is propagated. In this regard, I’m proud to say that of all the erstwhile Portuguese colonies in Asia, only Damão can boast that five decades after the Portuguese left, the mother tongue – a Lingua Mãe – of every newborn Catholic Damanense continues to be Portuguese, albeit as a dialect. Not only that – migrant traders from neighbouring states begin speaking the language in just 2-3 years, picking it up in their day-to-day interactions with Damanense customers! Can you say this of Goa and Diu or even Macau?
But Damanense youth yearn to learn standard European Portuguese which, unfortunately, was discontinued in the Institute of Our Lady of Fatima though the state board to which it is affiliated lists the language as an optional subject for the SSCE. In this connection, I’ve been in discussions with a newfound Portuguese friend, Dr. Henrique Salles da Fonseca, author of the blog, A bem da Nação, about launching a formal Portuguese language course in Damão on the lines of the one conducted by the Indo Portuguese Friendship Society in Goa. It is with this in mind – Ensino da lingua Portuguesa – that
I now seek your intercession and the resources of your good offices for bringing our project to fruition so that future generations of Damanenses can continue to say with pride, “Eu falo Português!”
Muito Obrigado,
Noël Gama

50-year old Portuguese sign board still in use!

You’d think the above picture of a sign board was taken from a local museum!

The photo was taken with a mobile phone in January 2009 when I visited a colleague in the Primary Health Centre (PHC), Fort, Big Daman.

Whoever says that the Portuguese language is on the decline in Daman, is certainly not living in Daman – this sign board is being used by a government establishment!


Call the chilli by any other name!!

Portuguese-based Creole of Damao came closest to Standard Portuguese in the seven years or so preceding the liberation in 1961 during the time the Portuguese troops camped in Daman. This is also the period when the Indo-Portuguese culture leaned more on the European side, again, as a result of the influence of the troops and their families.
Further, this happened more in Small Daman than Big Daman as most of the troops and their families lived there. Also, almost all of the elite of Damanense society lived in Small Daman. It was the elite of that time that interacted most with the ‘White’ officers and their families. Hence the slight difference in the Portuguese of Small Daman and Big Daman.

Even the same dishes are named differently in Small Daman and Big Daman, eg., a common fish dish is called, ‘Coco manteiga’ in Small Daman and ‘Caldo doce’ in Big Daman; a Christmas sweet is called, ‘Teia de aranha’ in Small Daman and ‘Aranha do ceu’ in Big Daman; a blossom is called, ‘flora de ice cream’ in Small Daman and ‘Coco ralado’ in Big Daman; a roadside flower is called, ‘Flora de ardoza’ in Small Daman and ‘Flora de Virgem Maria’ in Big Daman. (Excuse the spellings:)

When the Portuguese left in 1961, there was an exodus of the locals too, mostly from Small Daman when most of the elite left. Big Daman became the new seat of Indo-Portuguese culture by default – it had more catholics and it’s original creole and Indo-Portuguese culture was not affected much during the last seven years of the Portuguese as Small Daman was.

But the language is certainly not dying despite the convent school discontinuing Portuguese as a second language and more and more Goan priests who do not know the language being posted in Daman not to mention the large numbers of south Indian Christians in Small Daman. The number of people speaking Portuguese as their mother tongue may be declining for the simple reason that they’re migrating to the UK and definitely not because they’re switching to another language as has happened in other parts of India where P’guese based creole was spoken. Not only that – quite a few traders/shop-keepers in Big Daman who migrated to Daman (Rajashtanis being the most prominent) as recently as five years ago, speak Portuguese with their Portuguese-speaking customers!

Well, for good or for bad, Damanense Portuguese says it best – people feel they heard a ‘real’ mass when it’s said in P’guese and nothing could give them more satisfaction than using a P’guese swear word… the English SOB is a sob before it’s P’guese translation. And there’s a variation that was used by the Pguese to name a local chilli!!


Eu Falo Português!

The topic about the Portuguese language spoken in Daman by Damanenses is very popular on the forums.

Here’s my take on the current status of the language…

There are four main types of Portuguese in today’s Daman:

1. The most popular is the ‘remix’ version – Portuguese (ungrammatical), garnished with English words, a dash of Gujarati and of late, a sprinkling of Hindi! This is spoken by everyone up to the age of 50 to 55. If you’re at a distance where the speech is audible but the words are not decipherable, the ‘tune’ is Gujarati! To cite an example, I was attending mass in the Se Cathedral in the Fort a few years back when a group of Portuguese tourists entered from the main door. The mass was in Portuguese and therefore, the choir was singing a Portuguese hymn. A good three minutes into the hymn, one of the Portuguese men tapped the shoulders of his colleagues and whispered, “E Portugues!”

2. Badrapor Portuguese – same as above but grammatically the most incorrect and with a few dozens of words that are said to be ‘original’ Portuguese and decidedly old. Badrapor Portuguese is romanticized the most by Westerners and locals ‘scholars.’

3. The Portuguese spoken by those who studied it at least up to ‘segunda grau.’ These are in the age group of 55+ and have also studied English post-liberation. They are the self-appointed ambassadors of the Indo Portuguese culture of Daman, forming a closely knit circle that is as impenetrable as the forts of Daman. They swear by ‘Badrapor Portuguese,’ but try to speak their best ‘European Portuguese’ in the presence of whites. Interestingly, they speak the ‘remix’ version amongst themselves and in their homes:)

4. The Portuguese spoken by the endangered species of Damanenses in Daman – the erstwhile elite of Damanense society, who speak grammatically correct though ‘old’ Portuguese, even in their underwear – before whites as well as amongst themselves in their own homes. They are old, 70+, have an old-world aura, old-world values and have seen or rather heard it all but have chosen to remain silent and let the babble go on and on…

Noel Gama