By Rajendra Kerkar
As I am born in Bicholim and afterward was brought up in Keri and Ghoteli villages of Sattari nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats. I have always been fascinated by the ethnographic artefacts. This love and affection guided me to do post-graduation in History and Sociology. It was creating awareness pertaining to the ethnography. However, when a decade ago I come in contact with Victor Hugo Gomes, a dedicated personality of the land, who wanted to establish the ethnographic museum, I felt very glad.
At the first meeting with this committed ethnographer of Goa, I was deeply impressed and through his words and actions within short span of period, he commanded immense respect and love. Though he appeared to be influenced by the western culture he is the true Goan at heart. By his research, survey, characterized by field study from Pernem to Canacona, hailing from Salcette, he has made sincere attempts for showcasing the socio-cultural and economic life of the Goan society. He not only possess repository of rare artefacts but has extraordinary love and gratitude to all these items which has helped him to exhibits in the systematic way. The artefacts in his museum extend right from the prehistoric to modern day culture. Anybody who wants to know Goa, and enrich their knowledge of Goa’s ever lasting relationship with the Indian culture, this museum is indeed an excellent example. The love and gratitude he has earned for himself will always increase by manifold in my heart.
I still have the memory of my meeting with this personality at a seminar in Mallikarjun College, Canacona. Earlier, I was told that Victor was more theoretical and less practical. However, his presentation at the seminar that was followed by the interaction with the students and lectures had helped clear whatever misconceptions I was carrying about him. Then, I was invited by writer Pantalao Fernandes at the auditorium of Goa Chitra in Benaulim. Organisation of book release function along with the performance of the Goan folk dances and efforts of Victor Gomes to patronize it had earned respect in my heart to him.
When I visited the museum, I was impressed by his dedication and hard work. I remembered I spoke to Victor about the write-up pertaining to the Dhangar community of Goa. I elaborately had thrown light on the misconceptions prevailing in the society about the Dhangars of Goa. Although I was critical about this write up, he didn’t feel upset. Rather, he was very democratic. For me, it was this experience with him that carved out a special position for him and his work. After these meetings, I met with him at many occasions for seminar and meeting organised for the conservation of heritage and history wherein he always shared his knowledge, experiencing without much hesitation. In spite of many odds and hurdles, he has marched his wagon to the cherished goal. His novel way of educating the students and researchers about the Goan culture, its ethnography is indeed marvellous and thought provoking. I never judge a person from his outlook but always look at thoughts and work. My first impression about Victor was affirmative and it has remained enriching experience for me.
Rajendra Pandurang Kerkar, who has specialised in History and Sociology, has authored seven books (six in Marathi, one in English) and is a column writer for Marathi, Konkani, and English dailies. He has worked as a teacher for seventeen years and has been a member of a number of committees, including the National Board of Wildlife of India, State Wildlife Board of Goa, Environment Protection Council of Goa, North Goa Private Forest Identifying Committee, and Goa State Planning Board.