The best ‘Ladainha’ in Utorda that i have attended was when my uncle (Tio Manuel) got married. Why? Because he was a ‘tarvotti’ (Shippee) and spent quite a bit on the event! I was a little boy then but I still remember the proceedings of that evening well enough to produce the sketch above!
Our little house was full of relatives and cousins. It was the ‘ladainha’ (Prayer Meet) at the cross outside the house, which was built by my late grandfather. As I remember it, everytime some ‘angonn’ (vow) was fulfilled in the family, a prayer gathering was called at the cross. Everyone had arrived early that morning, to help prepare for the function. This time, the reason for the ‘ladainha’ was to fulfil a vow that my uncle had taken (Probably he had prayed for a nice girl to come into his life!). The kitchen was busy with all the women of the house clucking away whilst turning the ‘rogddo’ (A round stone grinding apparatus) and working the ‘fatore’ ( A flat stone grinding apparatus). One was cutting meat, onions and potatoes for the ‘xacuti’ (A spicy meat curry) and another, warming the ‘sorpotel’ (Pickled pork) which was made 4 days before. Just outside the house, my grandmom was preparing the firewood for the ‘chulas’ (fireplaces) made especially for the larger utensils (As those inside our granma’s kitchen were too small!). The fathers were busy preparing coals out of ‘kotteo’ (dry coconut shells) for the ‘ferro’ (For the sake of the youngsters … There were no electric irons in those days and the ironing of clothes was done with irons filled with hot coals!). Many a new ‘vistid’ (dress) and ‘calção’ (trousers) have been burnt by small coals spilling onto the fabric!
Just before the angelus, the violinist and a few expert latin singers associated with the Lourdes Chapel (Given the status of Church now), arrived. Everyone scrambled to get dressed and ready for the event. To begin with, a garland of fresh flowers were put on the cross. Then my grandmother led the Holy Rosary. Immediately after that, the violinist and the singers took over and sang some traditional Latin songs like the ‘Kirie Eleison’ and the ‘Regina Caeli’. Some Konkani hymns were also said with great gusto.
As soon as the ‘Ladainha’ ended, the neighbours who were invited, were treated to some ‘chonnem’ ( Boiled Chick peas) and some Cokes and Fantas (Since my tio could afford these!). They were also served hot ‘pulao’ (Flavoured rice) with some ‘sorpotel’ at the side. Of course, a ‘Ladainha’ gathering is never complete without the ‘Fenniecho kolso’ (Earthen vessel filled with Feni). The men of the village drank to their heart’s content and left, some even without eating, as filling themselves with food would only ruin their appetite for the booze!
I remember how all of us sat outside in the verandah with plates filled with great tasting food, laughing, joking and singing ‘Mandde’ … My tio was impresing my aunt with his tales of Rotterdam and other seaports. Some tales about how beautiful those babes were at those European ports were also told to make her jealous! My cousins and i were shooed off to sleep as it was past midnight. I was not awake to see everyone go to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. When I woke up, I was lying on a bamboo mat with my cousins sprawled beside me, lightly snoring away. Since there was no one to play with, i too decided to sleep a little longer …