A Unique Goan Festival
If you have a sweet tooth, then Goa is the place to be in August, when there are harvest festivals galore. Apart from August 15th being India’s Independence Day, it is also a day celebrated by many Christians across the world as the feast of the ‘Assumption of Mother Mary into Heaven.’ To commemorate this feast one such tradition observed by Goans is the making of a sweet dish called ‘Patolleo.’ Patolleo is a traditional sweet dish made from the new paddy (rice) that the harvest brings, along with grated coconut and jaggery on turmeric leaves; it’s in a way also known as the harvest festival.
One of the biggest festivals popularising this age-old tradition takes place in the quaint village of Succorro in Goa at the ‘Our Lady of Sucorro Church.’ This village comprises of 7 wards or vaddos as it is called in the local dialect, Konkani. They are Ambirna, Arrarim, Carrem, Maina, Porvorim, Vaddem, and Zosvaddo. They together in true community spirit come together under the Succoro Socio Art and Cultural Association to celebrate the Patolleanchem Fest.
According to the Parish Priest, Fr. Santana Carvalho the feast has been celebrated for the last 3 years under different themes.The 1st year it was ‘earthen wear,’ where many potters were called and methods of pottery were on display for the public to come and patronise. The second year the theme was ‘rice’ where the whole village of 7 wards came together and prepared a myriad of rice dishes which were then served to the public. Last year, the theme decided was ‘coconut’ so the different uses of coconut were displayed and many dishes too were made out of coconut. This year the theme that the parish the came up was ‘music,’ which they say is in every Goan’s blood.
Keeping with the theme, three groups of 40 members,comprising of children, youth, and adults performed traditional Konkani mandos, dulpods and upbeat music for the crowds. A traditional ‘brass band’ as well as other musicians was also seen keeping the crowds in good spirits. Young singers were also seen singing their renditions of famed Konkani singer Lorna. An estimated crowd of close to 2,000 people came to witness the feast, so much so that the visitors outnumbered the villagers! The highlight of the feast, were the ‘Patolleos’ and ‘Puddes’ which were prepared by the villagers. 1,500 patolleos and 500 puddes were served to all the guests. The event also saw ‘Christian Adivasis from Quepem participating in the revelries and demonstrating age-old practices and dances like dhallo, fugdi, sopeardade, moraile and ambopikotto to the public.
Among the various stalls set up was one in particular, displaying vintage cameras, near-extinct video projectors, posters etc. taking one back in time. This was done by Lawrence Wilson of Kalay, Sanguem. The festival also saw the first rendition of its very own theme song ‘Patolleanchem Fest’ which was composed and performed by Vera Pereira. The idea of the ‘Patolleanchem Fest’ was conceived by Marius Fernandes, who wanted to revive old feasts and make it a day where the whole community comes together. True to its cause, the festival statement that was unveiled 3 years ago says no to alcohol, plastic, sponsorship, competition, prizes, and moreover no chief guests!
Another highlight of the festival was the traditional lunch cooked in specially selected houses of different wards. On the menu were traditional dishes served on plates made of leaves.They were:
Benneche Kodi (orange gravy made with coconut and lady fingers)
Melgor (a traditional dish made with chickpeas and coconut)
Sannas (a Goan preparation made with rice and toddy)
Vohn (a sweet preparation made with jaggery and rice)
With the successful fourth edition of the ‘Patolleanchem Fest’ and the true meaning of community spirit,the people of Goa hope the festivities continue to spread their cheer for many more years to come.
Patolleo or Patoleo, pronounced at pathoyo, is a Goan sweet prepared for the feast of the Assumption of Mary. The time when the first corn is offered for a good harvesting season.
1/4 kg Goa red rice, or boiled rice (big fat unpolished rice)
1/2 Coconut, grated
1 Teaspoon salt
2 Small pyramids of Goa jaggery
Turmeric leaves also known as haldi ka patta
3/4th Cup Water
Add the coconut to the jaggery and set it on a slow fire.
Add the 3/4th cup of water to the coconut and jaggery and stir it occasionally.
While the mixture is on the fire, you can wash and clean the turmeric leaves.
Wash the rice and put it in a blender with little water. Keep the rice soaked overnight.
Once its ground to a paste pour it out into a vessel and keep it aside.
Occasionally stir the jiggery, coconut mix and add the cardamom.This will be used as the filling for the patolleo.
Now add the salt to the rice and put it on a slow fire.
In the meantime your rice should be nearly done, when it thickens enough and begins to leave the side you’ll know it’s ready.
Once it is done allow it to cool off a bit, and then knead the rice dough.
Line it along the main vein of the leaf and flatten it towards the sides.
Stuff the patolleo with the jaggery and coconut mix and then fold the leaf.
Once all patolleos are sealed you reach the final step, time to steam.
Place your patolleos in the steamer. The patolleos have to be cooked for around twenty minutes in the steamer before they are done.
The leaves give the rice a lovely flavour and the jaggery with coconut makes the patolleo sweet and wholesome.