Although widely known for it’s unique Portuguese connection owing to historical ties, Goa has over the years become a melting pot for many other Western cultures. Portuguese singing competitions, French music performances, Italian film festivals, culinary courses in German pastries...it all happens here. And now, Goa has one more cultural centre to add to the mix -The Brazilian Cultural Centre in Goa, or the Centro Cultural Brasileiro em Goa, which was inaugurated recently during the Lusophone Festival of Goa.
The centre is a new initiative by the Lusophone Society of Goa (LSG) and will be headed by Dr Aurobindo Xavier, who will act as the president of the organisation. The non-profit organisation aims to disseminate the Portuguese language and the Brazilian culture and strengthen the ties between Goa and Brazil in all aspects, including the social and economic ones. “Goa and Brazil have had historical links which date back to the 16th century as both countries were earlier part of the Portuguese Empire. This relationship was interrupted by the political situation in Goa post 1961 but in recent years we felt that we could forge ties with Brazil again for a greater relationship between Goa and Brazil in the scope of better relationships between India and Brazil too,” says Dr Xavier. Thus in an effort to boost these ties, the Lusophone Society of Goa over the last two – three years organised a few events to showcase Brazilian culture in the state especially as part of their annual Lusophone Festival of Goa like the recently held film festival which centres around Brazilian Contemporary Cinema which showcased films like A Mulher Invisível, Filme Fobia and O Filme Dos Espíritos, Brazilian culinary classes held at Agnel Institute of Food Craft and Culinary Sciences, Verna etc. Lectures discussing co-operation and project opportunities between Goa and Brazil featuring Professor Nelson Gonçalves Gomes (University of Brasilia Brazil) and Dr. Marcos Formiga (Member of Brazilian National Council for Scientifical and Technological Development – CNPq) have also been conducted.
“Brazil is the largest country in the Lusophone group of countries and we have been working closely with each other. However when you have so many other countries, the efforts to concentrate on one particular one and garner support for it gets diluted. Thus to focus better on improving cultural ties, we felt it was better to have a group or society or centre that was specifically for this country,” states Dr Xavier. To take his idea forward, Dr Xavier went to Brazil for a few days in December 2016 and held talks with different institutions about the same. “All the institutions were very happy with the idea and extended their support. In fact we have so far received messages from the Minister of Culture of Brazil lauding us for the implementation of the centre and also received a letter from the Ambassador of Brazil in New Delhi extending support to us. The Consul General of Brazil in Mumbai, Rosimar da Silva Suzano also graced us with her presence at the inauguration of the centre,” says Dr Xavier.
Under the centre, Dr Xavier promises that they will conduct events specifically related to Brazilian culture in Goa. “It is difficult to prepare a fixed programme as such and a lot depends on the collaboration with the Brazilian institutions and facilities here in Goa to conduct these. Also, unlike Portugal, there are not many people here who have family and friends in Brazil, so there is not much contact with the country. But everything will be planned in a sustainable way,” says Dr Xavier.
Dr Xavier also hopes that the government will extend more support towards promoting different cultures in the state.
“The government does not have much financial resources and it has to prioritise. The preference is given more for local culture which is very good. So right now it is not the problem of giving or denying but of establishing priorities when financial resources are limited,” he says. Dr Xavier however feels that the government has also not recognised the strategic importance of the state. “Historically within India, Goa in the last half millennium has always been an open door for Western culture into India and also a door for Indians from other parts of the country to the West. In my opinion, apart from just coming to the state for it’s beaches, domestic tourists also have a high level of appreciation for our Indian Western culture,” he says, adding that the government needs to understand this aspect better. “Macao was an excellent platform for China to establish relationships with all the Lusopone countries and they did that. However our government has not have the vision even after so many years that Goa can be similarly used as a platform to establish better ties between India and at least these nine countries.”