Now, does even ‘O Maria Pitach’, have to pass the Citizenship test?

It’s native to Daman; was propelled to popularity by multifaceted Goan musician-singer Remo, who’s even given it a multilingual Bollywood twist, and is in the midst of an unusual controversy. ‘O Maria Pitache’ has some freedom fighters and a Margao councillor crying nao!

A social media post last month said: “Shame on Konkani Bhasha Mandal for allowing Remo Fernandes to sing a Portuguese song at the 25th Goa Yuva Mahotsav”. Then on January 26, a dance performed to the song at the Republic Day celebration in South Goa saw some freedom fighters and a local councillor raise objections before the collector. They demanded that the prize awarded to the dance troupe be withdrawn.

Avinash Shirodkar of the Freedom Fighters’ Association added, “This Portuguese song being played at the Republic Day is sad… from next time the decisions taken on the programmes held on the days of national importance (should) be carefully planned.”

Another freedom fighter said, “I have participated in the Satyagraha in 1955 against the oppressive Portuguese and like me many have. I am surprised that this act performed on Portuguese song has been awarded first prize. I feel very bad for this.”

Explaining that the song throws light on patriarchy not colonialism, Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar, son of freedom fighter Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, in his social media post said, “I frankly fail to fathom how such a beautiful depiction of stark reality of today’s society of ours–our tendency to prefer that women remain prisoners of patriarchy–be antinational. I am sure my dad… would have disapproved of such action of the freedom fighters.”

Sai Panandikar, whose mother’s uncles—the Lawandes from Gavne, Ponda—were freedom fighters, finds “nothing controversial” in the song. “To me music is above all languages. Besides this song is from Daman but was made popular by Goan celebrity Remo, who used Indian instruments in it, and who is known worldwide for his music. This should be at matter of pride for Goa.”

Would understanding the song’s lyrics have mattered? Panandikar doesn’t think so; “this is the style nowadays of showing patriotism”. He wants the freedom fighters to make noise over the recent statements by ministers that Pakistan was made for Muslims and India for Hindus, rather than target music.

Margao-based musician Selwyn Menezes can’t fathom the furore. “It wasn’t performed on December 19, the day Goa was liberated. I don’t see the connection with Republic Day. In Delhi, during the Republic Day parade, there are so many floats depicting our country’s different cultures and songs. So what’s the connection here?”

Event company owner Roussel de Miranda asks, “Why is it an issue now? For so many years Goa Tourism used this song to attract tourists. Why is it that when the anti-CAA issue is under way, when politics of religion is going on, that this is being raked up as an issue?”

Author Valmiki Faleiro stresses that the folksong centres on “social life in Daman” and has “nothing to do with politics”. “Besides Indo-Portuguese relations were normalised in 1984 and recently (in Bengaluru) the Prime Minister (of India) was seen embracing the PM of Portugal, who is of Goan origin, and who was invited as an honoured state guest.”

“Besides, this folksong couldn’t have been in Urdu or Hindi or any other language,” he emphasises, “It had to be in Portuguese, because that was the lingua franca of the time.” [H]

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