customary for parents of the bride to shower gifts on their
daughter.It was expected that she would bring some dowry by way of
cash, and jewels for her own adornment. This traditional issue is
usually settled in advance. Further, to ensure her every comfort in
her new home her parents sent over their daughter's trousseau, her
embroidery, house linen, some traditional copper vessels for
cooking, and even a few items of personal furniture like the bed,
wardrobe and dressing-table just prior to the wedding day. These
items would be loaded onto a cart to reach the bridegroom's house
well before the bride did.
crackers again would announce to the neighbourhood the arrival of
the goods. Quite often they were laid out proudly on display in an
inner room for admiration of the wedding guests.
were the usual happy preparations for a wedding in Goa. Relatives
came in droves, even from afar. On the evening prior to the
ceremony, in the bride's home it is customary for women of the
family to congregate for the traditional "ros" - the bride is to be
given a bath in coconut milk! She is seated with a little sister or
cousin and, one by one, the ladies come forward to pour the cup over
her head. They bless her, joke with her, give her advice, and to the
accompaniment of a Konkani "mando"/ Goan folk-songs are chanted in
chorus. Verses are often humourously improvised on the spot to tease
the blushing bride. On this occasion she is usually decked with
fresh floral wreaths and garlands; not forgetting the shimmering
coloured glass bangles which will be her distinct symbol of the
bridegroom's place too there is much merry-making, music and
drinking. The de Mello house had been enlarged with the addition of
a few more rooms. It was also renovated. Today wedding receptions
are invariably celebrated in halls where every detail is attended to
professionally. But in Pascoal's day, long before there was any
community hall in the village, it was customary to erect a colourful
"mato" or canopy in a clearing next to the house.
ground beneath was liberally coated with a sprinkling of "shen" or
cow dung, to smoothen it for dancing. Erecting the pendal (canopy)
was great fun, as there were many willing hands. Now there was shade
and added space for the guests who would throng the home for the
festivities. On the morning of the great day the spacious canopy was
decorated with fresh leaves and flowers.
crackers are an integral part of any Goan celebration. Specially
loud outbursts signalled the departure of the bridegroom to church
and also announced his arrival there. The marital knot that bound
Pascoal and Esmeralda was blessed by young Fr. Accasio Dourado,
Curate of the church. As his personal gift to the bridal couple he
also celebrated the nuptial mass.
the exchange of marriage vows, and signing the church register ,
another volley of crackers marked the dramatic close of the church
ceremony. The couple walked together down the aisle, hand in hand,
followed by their entourage. They made a handsome pair: Pascoal
beaming and elegant in his smart new suit, Esmeralda, demure and
lovely in her flowing white gown and bridal veil wreathed with
flowers. In addition to having beside them their loving parents to
share their joy, both had their families, numerous relatives and
close friends. All came forward to offer their
Best Man was Alex D'Souza of Mazalvaddo. One pageboy and flower-girl
- Alu Mendonca and his sister Annie - were Pascoal's nephew and
neice, his elder sister Severina's children. Little Lionel de Mello,
the other pageboy, was the son of his cousin.
Esmeralda had three charming sisters younger than her:
Benetina, Rosa and Carmelina. They, along with Pascoal's younger
sister Luizinha, were the bride's-maids. A pretty picture
a bright sunny morning. The party moved on, some driving in batches
to de Mello vaddo. There was an air of festivity pervading the
scene, and the dresses of the ladies heightened the riot of colour.
The best dance band in all Bardez "Blu Lyrics" was in attendance.
The retinue of guests mingled together, exchanging pleasantries
while waiting expectantly for the bridal couple who were last to
enter. Suddenly, a string of fire-crackers exploded and the band
played the Wedding March, for Pascoal and Esmeralda had
Group Wedding Photo
At the door Pascoal's parents lovingly greeted their new
daughter-in-law with warm embraces and gently led the two, over the
thresh-hold of their home, right up to the family altar.
Candles were lit, incense was burnt, and the "Te Deum" was
sung, praising and thanking the Lord. The young couple received a
special blessing; after that Christalina placed a solid gold chain
round the neck of Esmeralda and showered her with personal gifts.
These significant traditional touches concluded, once again the band
took up its refrain.
After everyone was seated, a toast to the bridal couple was
proposed. L.J. Denis of Prias de S. Antonio had been requested to do
the honours as toast-master of the day. This respected personality
had recently returned home to Anjuna to enjoy his retirement after
several years of distinguished service with the British
Administration in Kenya. He was well acquainted with the de Mello
Raising his glass of sparkling champagne to propose a toast
to the newly-weds, he remarked on the linkage of two old families of
Anjuna. Then , complimenting the bride on her charm, her talents and
her accomplishments, he went on to extoll the qualities of head and
heart with which the bridegroom was endowed. Very correctly he
predicted that the bright young man would go a long way in the
service and carve a niche for himself in life.
Pascoal promptly replied to the toast. His was no
tongue-tied incoherent babbling, normally expected of a nervous
groom. Everyone was amazed at his brilliant oratory and his
confident delivery, in the presence of such a large gathering. It
was Pascoal's debut into public speaking, and he really cut a fine
figure with that maiden speech.
Part of the revelry was the wedding march, the newly-weds
leading, a string of joyous couples in train - prancing right
through the house and out of it, causing such a flutter to the
chickens in the yard, and a scramble to the dogs and the piglets,
before returning merrily in a circle on to the
After the cutting of the wedding cake there followed a
lavish service of the choicest Goan cuisine and liquor. In a lull
between the dancing and the feasting, by popular request the bride
sang a lilting "mando" specially composed for her on that auspicious
day by the Best Man.
Dancing and merriment continued late into the evening. Even
after the guests departed, the house was full of relatives who had
come from a distance and could not miss the celebration next
In Goa it is customary for the parents of the bride to
invite their new-found son-in-law to come over to their place on the
day following the wedding. He has to be accompanied not just by his
bride, but also by his own parents, his immediate family,choice
relatives and friends. It is a jolly party that leaves, again with
crackers broadcasting the move. At the bride's house they are
greeted by her family and friends. And once again the band plays and
there is dancing, feasting and merriment till the guests
The young couple stays on with a small escort of their
choice. All are well looked after, and when it is time to return a
group from the bride's house accompanies them, loaded with the
traditional "vogins" - sometimes a cart full of home-made sweets:
the usual platters of "dos"or gram sweet, hundreds of small flat
mounds of "bol", jaggery-coconut cakes, and big bunches of the
famous yellow Moira bananas.
They are greeted with crackers. After the mother-in-law
accepts a generous helping of the sweet gifts, the rest is
ceremoniously distributed to the neighbours by a group of young
girls from both families of the newly-weds, going from house to
The bridal couple are usually invited here and there, to the
homes of friends and relatives for elaborate meals in their honour.
But all good things come to an end..... and after a while they
settle to savour the joys of their new life together. So it was with
Pascoal and Esmeralda.