Discovering the secrets of Keri (CRT)
By Pantaleao Fernandes
Keri, the mountainside village, deep within the hinterlands of Sattari is a welcome retreat all year round. During the monsoons, the grey clouds saturated with rain hang very low, kissing the mountains. Gurgling mountain streams and gushing waterfalls are a monsoon speciality but trekking to the mountaintops to discover their secrets has to wait until the monsoon ends.
Keri has many sacred groves within and around the village. What are sacred groves? Our guide, a local villager will explain the ecology of the sacred grove and seek out the ancient stone icons of the resident deities that lie hidden for centuries.
Who do the locals worship? There is at least one temple in each hamlet that comes alive during the zatra day where the goddess is taken out in a palanquin, but there is one temple where the locals worship the roin or the anthill. Which is this temple? Find out from the guide.
The village folk are simple people dependent on agriculture, which still covers the village with a green carpet. Some of them live in neat mud cottages, covered with cow dung floors and lead happy lives. They celebrate festivals like Ganesh Chaturti, Diwali and Sigmo with great gusto.
So how does one explore the village? Breathe the deep mountain air first or stroll around the village? It is best to leave it to the guide as he will unravel the mysteries and secrets of the mountains which are truly awesome. He will also take visitors on a skywalk that provides a
bird’s eye view of the village. It is like a walkway, high up in the air, providing a glance at a few houses, a rivulet and a small vegetable patch that the locals cultivate.
So where does one have meals in the village? A few hotels provide the standard fare but that does not add value to the village experience. We have requested villagers to extend their cuisine to a few guests and they have willingly agreed. Our guide will escort you to their rustic mud house where you are expected to squat on the cow dung covered floor and wait for the hostess to serve you on banana plantain straight from the traditional earthenware pots, moulded and baked by Goa’s own potters. Eco-friendly ladles are handmade by the hosts using the discarded coconut shell and a stick from the bamboo grown locally.
First comes the hot boiled-rice, followed by ross, chillie pickle, rava coated and fried breadfruit, fried, and batter coated deepfried breadfruit. The veggies include raw papaya bhaji and terro. Sol kody is served to help digestion. A sweet called mangane is served in small cups for desert. Hot water with the distinct taste of smoke is served to quench the thirst.
Dalo, the dance of the women folk is performed somewhere during December on a sacred ground called the maand. At night the women gather there dressed in their traditional attire, their hair decked with local flowers and sing and dance to their heart’s content to celebrate harvest and life in general.
The good news is that one does not have to wait for the official date to witness these songs and dance. Our hosts are adept at many cultural dances and folk dances that have evolved from mundane household tasks.
As one relaxes in the verandah, the housewives bring out the millstone and grind grain. While grinding they sing songs to provide them with the rhythm and also make light their work.
Next they beat the paddy with the pestle. Again songs are sung, helping the work along. Now its time to churn the milk. One woman does the work while the others sing.
Now they head to their tiny courtyard, surrounded by banana plants and tall aracanut palms. They burst into song and dance. The melodious voice of the leader sings the refrains which the others repeat after her. For the grand crescendo, they pick up their traditional cymbals and clang them together to bring out a metallic beat. When it finally all ends, they are tired but happy.
A glass of hot black tea brewed with lemon grass drives away the drowsiness brought about by the bountiful meal. It is now time to bid adieus to the hosts and leave.
After all this our guide still has another well guarded secret up his sleeve – the private collections of artefacts and implements used by the villages for the last few centuries. Get an insight into the lifestyle of the villages for the last hundred years and beyond. The guide will provide an explanation behind every exhibit.
If you want to explore Keri firsthand, contact CRT
Contact: Fr Freddy +919822156955