The Goykar Coconut Tree

Image Source: Google

The issue of declassification of the coconut cannot be dismissed as political opportunism of some politicians. Coconut cannot be viewed in isolation of what may be called Goanness of our Goan community. Community comes into being from symbolic and narrative archives of a society. The coconut tree and everything associated with it is deeply embedded in the social archive that informs the Goanness of Goans all the time. It is amazing how a party that is using and even abusing the social archive and its religious and cultural resources and converting them into political capital has failed to understand the vital location of the coconut tree in the fabric of our Goan society. For Goans, a Coconut tree is not just a tree. It is part of several other things that are woven together by Goans down the lane of time to create a common life and culture that we call Goykarponn. Goykarponn is a womb that embeds the meaning of life for every Goan. It is a social archive that animates, authenticates and produces a sense of being a Goan.

No society is possible without its social archive. It is the archival power that becomes the glue that keeps humans together and generates the purpose of life. Most often humans are not conscious of their individual and collective dependence on the dynamism of their social archive. It produces an order of things and a sense of one’s place in the scheme of things. Now some aspects of the order of things that springs from the social archive can be oppressive as the case of casteism in our country and can be contested and resisted. But the role of the social archive in shaping the social life of a society cannot be ruled out. The order of things flowing from the social archive is almost always naturalised and normalized and cannot be easily derailed even when it carries oppressive and exploitative content. Goan Society has a living, dynamic and vibrant social archive. Like any human society it is not perfect but always remains perfectible. Thus, we do not have a uniform but a plural and diverse element in our social archive that has become the life line of several communities in Goa. Yet there is a singular dynamism of the Goan archive produces Goykarponn that binds all Goans together.

Politics of all shades and hues use the archival power of society as well as modify and add to its content. Since we cannot live an apolitical life, our social archive shapes us as well as we shape it both individually and collectively. Politics produces a chain of dissensus. Thus, for instance, let us consider the case of the declassification of coconut trees in Goa to understand the above. The BJP Government has dismantled the social space that belongs to the coconut tree in Goa. Indeed, the action of the government was an act of dissent vis-à-vis the social archive of Goa. But, since the coconut tree occupied a prime space in the order of things that teems from our social archive in our society; it produced widespread resistance and complete disagreement with the government. Coconut is not just a tree for Goans. In a profound significant way, it has become an important constituent of Goykarponn. Hence, in a reckless pursuit of the economic pie, the Party which otherwise cleverly uses the social archive that houses the religious sentiments and manipulates it to mobilize people to gather votes found out on the coconut issue that it also has a great lust for notes.

The removal of the coconut tree from the tree act of 2008 was not innocent and the Goans of all walks of life know it, though the government tries to pretend it to be so. But the fact the Coconut tree was more than a tree for Goans became the thorn in the flesh of the government. For the Hindus in Goa, the Coconut tree is a sacred fruit (Shreefall) that is offered to God and is regarded as the Kalpavrukx while the Catholics and even the Muslims in Goa regard it as an inseparable part of all life in Goa. The coconut cover in Goa and its multiple utility, particularly in the Goan cuisine and religious life has emotionally linked it to the Goan imagination. No Goan can imagine Goa without the coconut tree. Hence, the coconut tree belongs to the cultural capital of Goan society. Moreover, in recent days, the coconut tree played the role of an environmental activist obstructing those who wished to destroy the fragile environment in Goa. This might be the reason why the government declassified it to make room for those who prey on Goa and its resources as a raw material to create wealth. As things shaped up in our society, Goans showed that the coconut tree itself had become a Goykar and could not be uprooted by mere force of law. Yes! Indeed, the coconut tree did the unimaginable. It brought all Goykars together across religious and north/south divides and a firm imperative to save Goa and not merely the coconut tree is born in our society. it is for us Goans to stay together and save not only the Goykar coconut tree but Goykarponn and Goy.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao