The festival of Bonderam takes place on the 4th Saturday of the month of August each and every year at an island called Divar Island, 12 kilometers off Panjim city. The name Bonderam revolves around the involvement of flags which in itself is an interesting story.
Disputes often occurred between wards (village sections) – Sao Mathias and Piedalda to be precise over property reasons, which often led to vicious duels that sometimes, resulted in deaths as well.
In light of this, Goa’s then Portuguese overlords introduced a system of marking boundaries with flags of different nations. This however was not tolerated by rival groups, who knocked these demarcations down.
Today, as if to mock the past, this demarcation and subsequent knocking down of the same is remembered with a “Fotash” flight – a toy weapon made of bamboo stems and berries, which are used like missiles in a make-belief fight between the same rival groups to knock down offending flags.
Bonderam Festival is celebrated with a carnival-like atmosphere. Each of the village wards have a float at the parade. These floats are sponsored by business houses and yet have a local flavour.
On this day; the day of the feast, the picturesque and otherwise peaceful Divar Island, at a sizeable distance from the city life of Panjim, is illuminated with excitement.
Rhythmic music blares from the village right to the mainland of Old Goa, which was once the cultural hotbed of Portuguese Goa. By 12pm a few people begin to arrive at the village via the ferries (only way to visit Divar Island), which by the evening becomes a big and happy mob.
A crowed comprising of locals as well as Indian and foreign tourists gather on either side of the main town centre of the island. The tempos are decorated with lasses and lands wielding “fotashes” that engage themselves in make-belief battles. The brightly coloured floats that are set on these tempos are accompanied by vividly dressed youngsters and a few elders that make for a pretty picture.