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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)

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Musicking Destination: Instituto Camões, New Delhi!

Happy to have been invited to perform a set of Portuguese songs at Instituto Camões, Embassy of Portugal, New Delhi on the 18th of July 2012. Couldn’t miss this great opportunity which, turned out to be an important milestone in my journey and more importantly, in my mission of popularizing Portuguese Pop/Folk music.

I live in Daman (Damão – a former Portuguese enclave on the western shores of India, which became part of India as recently as 1961) where there’s a strong Portuguese influence in the culture, music in particular. While Daman Day (2nd February), Daman’s biggest folk festival, celebrates and showcases its Indo-Portuguese culture, my blogs and websites help in recording, preserving and even propagating it to a certain extent.

As an award-winning writer of the Writers Bureau (UK) and author of Culture Wise India (Survival Books Ltd, UK), I’m now putting this experience into writing a series of books on the Indo Portuguese culture of Daman and in writing/recording new folk songs to complement the books.

It was a solo performance at Instituto Camões in my ‘Unplugged’ avatar – just me and my Ovation guitar and a digital vocal harmonizer – the others being, ‘Concert’ (Midi guitar OMB) and ‘Grand Concert’ (Arranger keyboard OMB). The songs were covers of contemporary Portuguese songs in the Pop & Romantic genres with a couple of traditional folk songs thrown into the mix as well. That’s about all you’d expect from someone who’s an HR Pro by day, author by night and singer/songwriter on very special evenings, like this one.

I’ll let these photographs (courtesy, Bhupendra Baria) tell the rest of the story…

Arrival at Camoes…
Tuning up
Must get the G-string right!
The Ovation is a great guitar – when I opened the case at the venue, every string was still perfectly in tune! And no – I wasn’t scowling… I’d rather squint than wear reading glasses – especially when fiddling with the G-string;)
More treble on the vocals, please!
For Guitar, my quick-fix is Bass @ 4 ‘O’ Clock; Treble @ 2 ‘O’ Clock
The audience couldn’t really know what to expect from a nonfiction author!
A few seconds in the dark before the ‘curtain’ went up!
The first song… about how good it feels to go back to my roots
Threw two trads into the mix – Encosta a tua Cabecinha – arguably, the most popular Portuguese trad in India.  One of the first songs my mother taught me as a little boy.
Interestingly, it’s from Brazil!
Followed by A historia que eu vou contar – I’d need to write a voluminous book to tell the story of a complicated woman. Not that I would succeed though. The songwriter tried to tell it all in just one verse!
Now, they know… a little bit more… as I tell the stories behind the songs
11th reason to learn the Portuguese language: You will better appreciate the songs when you understand what’s really being said between the lines of the underlying lyrics and like me, you may discover that “Saudades” is the God particle of the Lusophone world!
A change of rhythm and tempo – little snippets of the Pimba that’s played for the wedding march in Daman
Couldn’t leave without singing um ultimo fado
I’ve often been accused of singing only contemporary Portuguese songs; very few trads and never a fado – so I sang a song about the fado:)

Adeus ate um dia!
The Damanense – as also the Portuguese – goodbye is not really final… it’s always followed by an ‘ate logo!’


With H. E., the Ambassador of Portugal, Jorge Roza de Oliveira
I presented him a copy of my book, “Culture Wise INDIA” (Survival Books – UK) and made a commitment that I’d complete writing my second book, “DISCOVER DAMÃO IN DAMAN – The Insider’s Guide to the Indo-Portuguese Culture, Customs & Etiquette of Daman”
The ambassador said he’d be visiting Daman very soon!
A final caress of appreciation for my Ovation before she goes into her case
I couldn’t decide whether to take the Ovation or the Taylor 714ce Fall Ltd Edition. My friends on Facebook voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Ovation! Isn’t she ‘photogenic’? I strung her with Silk & Steel strings and played her with my fingers to get that clunky sound between a steel-string and a nylon-string guitar

High tea – Embassy lawns
Met faculty, students and the warm and cheerful staff. Many said they’d like to visit my hometown. Well, all were invited – for Daman Day 2013 (2nd February, 2013)


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Between the Sword and the Pen, lies the Guitar (Part-2)


Looking back down the road I’ve traveled, with a guitar case instead of a suitcase in my hand, I earnestly wish I could say, “So far, so good!” But in all honesty, it hasn’t been so. As throngs of my fellow Damaneses opt for Portuguese citizenship and leave Daman to settle down in Europe, more and more I feel like a stranger in my own hometown. The ever-expanding ‘Bribe Tribe’ is still foreign to me despite it being well over two decades since we got delinked from Goa. Come to think of it, I did not experience as big a culture shock in 1961 as I did when we were severed from Goa.

With only a month to completing 50 years of its liberation,  Daman had its biggest-ever protest march this November 24th. A young man spoke with such conviction on topics and problems that have been making a buzz on social media sites, perhaps fueled by similar protests elsewhere in the country. I could easily use this as grist for my songwriting mill and churn out a protest folksong – no music sounds as authentic as when the oppressed sing songs of protest but wouldn’t it be a crying shame? Our traditional folk songs were about poverty and its alleviation; never about oppression and alienation. And we had riches – we were multicultural, multilingual, multiracial and lived in sweet harmony.

I still need my guitar and the power of folksongs to help me along the way. Folksongs may age but they never get old like the one-week hit songs of today. That’s because they document our history, culture and values more authentically, enticingly and entertainingly than any history book ever could. My music teacher may have found solace in a bottle of wine but he left me the most enduring legacy. I believe that music is a means of experiencing as well as expressing freedom. And most of all, I believe that the guitar is a celebration of this freedom because you are free to ‘do-your-own-thing, any-which-way’!


Folk-Songs-Rock.com up!

Welcome on board my ‘Folksy Ark’ at “Folk-Songs-Rock.com!

Discover the magic of folk music in its various genres and sub genres. It’s a labour of love in celebration of folk songs, folk artists, folk instruments, folk festivals, folk music history and everything folk.
I’ll be updating and growing this site to give you new information as they’re added, including folklore from exotic places worldwide – places rooted deep in tradition like Portugal, India and Brazil!
Check it out! Click here…

Carnival 2011

The Carnival – spelt, ‘Carnaval,’ in Portuguese – is a Portuguese legacy which is making a big comeback with the Catholics of Daman. It had reached its height in the 80’s and is seeing a revival since the past 3-4 years with Carnival 2011 taking it a notch higher than last year’s celebrations. 

This annual three-day festival  is celebrated in Brazil, Goa and other former Portuguese colonies. It begins on the first Sunday of Lent though there’s no connection with Lent from a religious angle.

This is the main road in Big Daman – people are coming out of Machiwar (one of the ‘Bairros’ of Daman) and heading towards the football field

Unlike the Goa carnival which is termed as the ‘commercialized’ version, the Daman Carnival is unique in that it’s not a sponsored event and is truly the carnival ‘of the people, by the people – and most importantly – for the people!’ In fact, the Catholics who take part in the three-day event, don’t even approach any commercial establishment for sponsorship.


Revelers coming out of the various ‘Bairros’ on to the main road of Big Daman

The first day of carnival is called, ‘Domingo Gordo‘ (‘Fat’ Sunday:) in Portuguese. The Damanense ‘espatada‘ (pigling BBQ) accompanied with the local liquor and a special salad made from brinjals (eggplant) baked underground and Portuguese music is the de rigueur staple!

Revelers dancing in one of the ‘Bairros’ of Big Daman

Portuguese music, especially Pimba, is a favourite as it makes it easy to use the beat for marching along the streets, incorporating the same dance-steps used in the Damanense wedding march!

The groups (mini floats) dance their way from ‘Bairro’ to ‘Bairro’ to recorded Portuguese Pimba music blaring from speakers mounted on to little trucks with a DJ onboard

The closest thing to carnival in India is ‘Holi’ in that both have revelers and use colour on each though in the Daman Carnival,  a sort of cheap talcum powder is used and ‘gulal’ or water-based colours are never used. The main two differences however, are that while ‘holi’ is a religious festival, carnival though celebrated by Catholics, is not a religious festival; secondly, revelers come out in fancy dress while in ‘holi’ that’s not the case.
Adeus, ate outro ano!
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Daman Day 2011 Celebrations

Daman Day 2011 was celebrated on “Dia de Damao” – 2nd of February which also coincides with the feast of “Nossa Senhora das Candeias” – an annual, open air mass held on the forecourt of the DMC building and offered by the councillors and staff of the Daman municipal council.

Due to the ongoing DMC elections, the organizers of “Daman Day 2011” decided not to have the sports and cultural events this year and instead hire out a restaurant-cum-discotheque for celebrating their 4th Daman Day soon after the mass. A special bus ferried revelers to venue – “Nana’s,” in Small Daman at 8pm and dropped them back at 11pm.

The theme for Daman Day 2011 was…

Viva Damão: Proud to be Damanense!


Mr. Gabriel Guedes, well-known orator of Daman, made the welcome speech in Portuguese which was followed by a toast raised with the traditional goblets of port (albeit Goan) wine! This was followed by the quintessential Portuguese traditional dance – the Vira – performed by children in authentic costumes to the musical performances of the Daman Folklore Group.

The evening flew by in the time it took to sample the starters and down a couple of drinks, with renditions of popular Damanense folk songs as revelers jammed with the folklore group.

Then there was the customary session of ballroom dancing to peppy Portuguese music by DJ Rambo before dinner was served. The traditional Daman “Dampaque” took centre stage on the buffet table as did a bottle of the local fiery drink, “Benslor” on the bar counter!

Soon it was time to sip liqueur and head for the bus but not before everyone made a pact to meet again on Carnival 2011!

Visit http://www.WorldDamanDay.com for more!

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World Daman Day 2010 – Daman

Following the resounding worldwide success of World Daman Day 2008 & 2009, the organizers decided to open the celebrations of the 3rd World Daman Day (2010) on the 2nd of February 2010 – the day Damão came to be in 1559 – leading to the big day itself under the aegis of World Goa Day courtesy, London-based founder, Rene Barreto.

The theme of World Daman Day 2010 was, “Viva Damão! Eu falo Português!” because of all the cultural facets – art, religion, tradition, custom, language, music, cuisine, architecture and attire – language is the binding glue that holds it all together and it also is the conduit through which culture is propagated.
Damanenses around the globe in countries like the UK, US, UAE, Canada, Portugal, Macau and Holland among others, celebrated all things Damanense by showcasing their Damanense cultural heritage through artistic and cultural expressions such as musical and food festivals, competitions, traditional and folk dance performances, art & craft displays and football tournaments. This idea proposed by Rene in 2008 has now grown into a great tree spreading its branches around the globe while rooted deeply in our culture. Though the official website at www.WorldDamanDay.com has been serving its purpose excellently, this year we used Facebook as the main means of communicating and propagating the concept thus making it possible for anyone with a Facebook account to participate. This made the need for ‘meetings’ obsolete as we did not have the usual consensus of a handful of naysayers but the mandate of 1300+ Facebook fans of Daman!
While World Daman Day has mainly been celebrated by Damanenses outside Daman, in Daman itself the movement picked up so much momentum this year that it surpassed the celebrations of all other places by far! There was a football tournament on the eve of WDD-2010, which saw six teams vie for the WDD-2010 cup over 18 matches. The next evening, WDD-Daman turned out to be the best ever, anywhere, World Daman Day – an unexpected crowd; presence of Professor Ajay Prasad, of Centre for European & Latin American Studies, JMI University, Delhi; beautifully presented Portuguese traditional dances and folklore; 100% Portuguese music; Damanense cuisine; dinner and dance; speeches in Portuguese – you name it! And best of all – no self-titled, ‘VIPs’ – because on WDD, every Damanense is a VVIP!
We have been flagging off World Daman Day on the 2nd of February – “Dia de Damão” – and culminating the celebrations in August-September. However, since this time of year sees the most inclement weather due to the southwest monsoon, not to mention school exams and the popular demand for shifting the main event to February, Daman will henceforth have the main event on the opening day i.e., 2nd February, beginning 2011 while other countries will continue to celebrate it on or about the 20th of August.
Noel Gama
Overall Coordinator – WDD-2010

Saudades! Folk Memories of Damão

The book every Damanense has always wished someone would write for them!
Saudades! Folk Memories of Damão! 
A memoir about the folksy past of Damão (Daman), a little-known,  former Portuguese enclave on the western shore of India
While Viva Damao! The Insider’s Guide to the Indo-Portuguese Culture, Customs & Etiquette of Daman is a travel guide for non-Damanenses, Saudades! Folk Memories of Damão is a nostalgia-infused trip down memory lane – a keepsake for Damanenses and lovers of the Damão we love most.


Saudades! Folk Memories of Damão will be a co-authored memoir featuring only B&W pics of the last decade of the P’guese era in Damão (Daman).
Started as a Blog2Book project launched by the late Pedro Cabral Adão, former Consul General of Portugal on 10th June 2006 in Daman, the memoir format seems to suit it best.

For a detailed view of the clusters of blogs that make up the chapters of the book, visit www.noelgama.com.


Viva Damão – the band!

Returning to my roots – from “The Exclusively Western” 1-Man band to the exclusively, “Portuguese Music” One-Man Band! My special thanks to everyone who’s been cajoling me for a come-back! Muito obrigado!

Viva Damão!” is an exclusively Portuguese Pop & Folk 1-Man Band from Daman (Damão), India with a mission…

To revive and popularize Portuguese Pop & Folk music in India through the power of the Internet

Viva Damão!