The village of Rivona is located on the border between modern-day Quepem and Sanguem talukas in the southern half of the state of Goa. Rolling hills and lush green forested terrain dotted by small cultivated fields describes the landscape of this village which is well watered by flowing rivers and fresh springs. located in the New Conquests, this area was one of the last to experienced the Portuguese influence and one which only on occasion directly experienced the wars which raged in the northern new conquest. It has remained a peaceful village throughout much to its existence, a serenity which manifests not only in the natural vegetation but in the village atmosphere as well.
Rivona is irrigated by the passage of the river Kushawati which runs through Quepem and enters into the Arabian sea. During the 14 and 15 centuries, the Arabs would sail through this river to reach Chandor. Prior to the Muslim invasion, during the Chandragupta and Kadamba dynasties, Chandor. (only 12 kms. from Rivona) was an ancient and prosperous capital city of successive generation. During that era, the Rivona region was a Buddhist hideaway owing to the fresh hot springs and abundance of rushing water and forest which made it an ideal place for meditation. Rivona was a place for Rishis, ancient Hindu philosophers who went in search of enlightened knowledge through meditation and unity with natural element. Within a span of 2 sqm., more then 20 perennial springs can be fond in the Rivona countryside. Ancient rock-cut caves which were centres of Buddhist worship are found in the outskirts of Rivona, and drawings of animals and birds on these rocks are dated from the centuries prior to the birth of Christ.
Today`s town center consists of a few general stores, A state Bank of India, and a daily market for fresh fish. set back from heavily trafficked rods, Rivona is a small, sprawling village which quietly merges into its neighbors with hardly a demarcation. few tourists ever reach Rivona, and there are no guest houses nor restaurants to aid the weary travelers. Today, busses connect Rivona with Quepem, Margao, and other nearby town centres which enable villagers to travel to work or higher education.
Mining is a major industry near Rivona, and an occupation which many in the community, primarily those among the low socio- economic classes, have entered in the place of farming and craft occupations. Iron ore and magnesium are extracted from these mines, loaded onto trucks,and taken to the city of Vasco da Gama where these products are exported to Japan and other Asian countries. Among the Catholics, one youth from every family has found work in the Gulf countries on the ships or in other minor jobs which pay more in comparison to Goan salaries.
These jobs are coveted because with only a village 10th or 12th standard education jobs can be secured which pay 10 to 20 times the salary which the same individual is capable of earning in Goa. Farming is the time-honored traditional occupation for the village in Rivona, who cultivate food crops such as Wheat and Rice as well as cash crops such as areca nut and cashew nuts. Those who are landlowners hire landless or otherwise poor labourers to cultivate their fields as share-croppers while their own sons and daughters enter the more modern occupational sector.
The Catholic population of Rivona belongs predominantly to the ‘Chardo'(kyshatria-2nd order, Varna system) community spread throughout Goa. The people are as pious in their beliefs as are the Hindus in theirs, and the former’s customs and traditions resemble those of the Catholics in Salcette and other coastal talukas of Goa. Christmas, Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, and the seven Sacraments are celebrated there, and Litanies also occur regularly.
As a result of the improvements in the health and educational systems in Rivona, individuals are more conscious of their rites and duties. Prior to liberation, less than 20% of the villagers were literate, and even the parents of today’s students are mostly unable to read and write. Following liberation, over 80% of the community has become literate. Following liberation, the Portuguese schools were open mostly to the children of the catholic converts in the Old Conquests. By the time the New Conquests were under the Portuguese administration, the same proselytising fever were erected and priests were stationed in the New Conquests, the area was viewed more as a buffer zone between the Marathas, Muslims, and later the British empires than as an actual part of Goa and Indo-Portuguese culture. It was up to individuals within Hindu communities to provide for their own welfare, and as it was not in the interest of the ruling landlords to do so, the majority of the Hindu villagers ! remain uneducated.
The village of Rivona provides an insightful potrait of a traditional Goan village. Like its location, Rivona is on the Border between a typically Goan Catholic village and a predominantly Hindu one. The attitudes, goals and aims, stresses, and daily lifestyles of this village are like those of many others throughout the state of Goa.