GOA BIRD LORE
BY PAOLA ANN DE SEQUEIRA
Birds are incorporated in the daily life of Goans, part and parcel of our folklore and myths. The iconic Peacock, locally known as Mor, takes prime place as the figurehead of the traditional samai – the brass lamp used in daily rituals.
Traditional baby cutwork coverlets often have bird motifs. The Morulem, a traditional folk dance derives its form and nomenclature from “ Mor” while the Perne Zagor, the masked dance of the Perni community represents different characteristics of nature, birds included. Among many places named after birds are Morpilla and Mordongor, while Bokeachi Arradi is reflective of the cattle egret. Another beautiful representation of the resplendent peacock comes in the craftsmanship of the traditional Goan goldsmith, whose masterpieces of decorative jewellery – feet, surgvalesar, aati and morveni – add beauty and pride to local women’s attire and treasure chests.
The Yellow Headed Bulbul is Goa’s state bird while the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christian Iconography. This emblem of peace occupies the top slot on the façade of the magnificent 17th century Church of the Espirito Santo in Margao and is also seen engraved on baptismal fonts, pulpits, doors and gravestones of many other churches and chapels across the state.
Goa is the destination for many diverse species of migratory birds, which can be found in large numbers in the wetlands across the state. Some birding hotspots are the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahavir and Bondla sanctuaries in Sanguem and the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary. The Goa Bird Conservation Network is doing amazing work to encourage and spread a love for birding. Check it out: gbcn.org
Read more from The Peacock: Issue 8 (2019) here: