Shigmo and politics reverberates the tribal rural landscape of Goa 

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Panaji: As the folk songs of shigmo reverberates the villages of Goa nestled amongst the Western Ghat mountain range, so also is the politics ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

 

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The traditional Shigmo festival is celebrated in the villages of Goa, mostly by the tribals who are inhabitants of the Western ghat range in the talukas of Sanguem, Quepem, Canacona, Sattari up to Pernem.

“The rights of tribals have been made an important election issue by the political parties. Rightly, they have done it, but we have to see whether the benefits really percolates to the needy tribals or the creamy layer, who live in the cities,” said Sagun Velip, a tribal from Morpirla village of Quepem taluka.

Goa recently witnessed an agitation demanding political reservation to the tribals. On March 06, the union cabinet has cleared the scheduled tribes reservation bill, allowing Goa to have ST quota in the assembly for the first time.


The tribal leaders however are divided over the issue as one section feels that BJP is adopting delaying tactic and the reservation will not come before 2027 Goa assembly elections.

70-year-old Moru Velip from Barcem village of Quepem taluka said that the rights over the land are more important for the tribals. “For years, we have been waiting for the ownership of our land under Forest Rights Act. Our wait is unending,” he said.

The state government claims that they are disposing off cases under Forest Rights Act but they should be done expeditiously.

 

As per the state government figures, there are 10,000 cases under FRA which are pending before the local administration, that needs to be decided on priority basis.

The festival of shigmo which is currently underway in these villages are one of the most important festival for tribals. Though the state is in election fever, the tribals take holiday from their work to travel through the forests and play shigmo songs at every household in their surrounding locality.

Soiru Velip, a local journalist, stated that the tradition which has come from generations is followed by them. “There are few of the shigmo revellers who are on high position like Deputy director in various departments. But they ensure that they get off to participate in the festival,” he said.

When asked about the elections, Soiru said that the politics is kept out from the shigmo festival. “We have people following different political parties coming together for the occasion. The discussion on politics does happen but we keep our differences outside the shigmo area,” he said.

Congress MLA Altone D’Costa who represents Quepem assembly constituency said that the tribals are always at the fag of the system, when it comes to the benefits. “There are few tribal villages which has no roads. There is no electricity and BJP is talking high about digital India,” he said.

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