A tale of two Varcas
Isidore Domnick Mendis
The story of this beautiful village could be divided into two halves. With lush green scenery and a pristine beach, the history of settlement in this coastal village could be described as Old Varca and New Varca.
Located in Salcete taluka, Varca lies 38.9km from Panaji on NH 66 (formerly NH 17). A drive through this village takes one across agricultural fields, coconut palms groves, and orchards cultivating jackfruits and mangoes. Varca also has modern amenities such as banks and supermarkets.
Raymond Pereira, a young chronicler of the village who lives in the ward of Pedda Numeio, says that the Varca church is the defining point where one can see the difference between the two characters of the village.
“All the new buildings and new constructions have come up on the right-hand side of Our Lady of Gloria Church. This half is recognized as new Varca. On the other side of the church is old Varca, with its market from the Portuguese era and older houses of residents of the village,” he says.
Till a few years ago, the village was also famous for its Varca Sports Club. The club used to organize a carnival-eve dance called ‘Fat Fat Saturday’. And how can one speak about Varca without mentioning the name ‘Churchill Brothers Sports Club’ in the same breath. This club has won almost all major football tournaments in India.
While in Varca, one can also visit the San Thome Museum which showcases the technical revolution from the year 1800. This museum also draws footfalls from the tourists who put up at the starred hotels in the village.
Trying to trace the etymology of the name ‘Varca’ was inconclusive. Speaking to TOI, Rosario Savio da Costa of Novangully Vaddo feels the village name could have been derived either from ‘Dwarka’, the birthplace of Lord Krishna or the word ‘Barca’ which means boat in Northern Spain. “The V in Spanish is pronounced as B, so the beach was named so. This is what I feel,” Costa says.
“I visited Brazil in 2014 for the Fifa World Cup. While in the Brazilian capital, Rio de Janeiro, I came across an upmarket store dealing with clothing lines. The store was named ‘Varca’,” he adds.
After village panchayats were introduced in Goa, post 1961, Varca was divided into seven panchayat wards. Varca’s ‘vadde’ (vaddo: singular, meaning traditional village ward) are Chadvaddo, Novangully, Calvaddo, Laxette/Uddo, Reprovaddo, Razvaddem, Guneavaddo /Langotten/Sanvaddo, Pedda Utordoxi, Pedda Numeio, Pedda Dumotlem, 1st Fatrade and 2nd Fatrade.
While Christians are a majority in this village, the Shree Damodar Saal holds huge significance for the villagers. Varca is one of the best examples in Goa which shows the unity among the Hindus and Christians. Many Christians offer service at the Sal, while many Hindus attend Christian feasts. I love my village very much and I am really proud to be called a Varkekar (native of Varca).
Yoguish Motilal Sambary, resident of Reprovaddo
Varca’s growth in prosperity has come about due to the combined effort of all its residents working in Goa and abroad. We have a lot of seafarers as well as those working on foreign soil, including the Gulf countries. Similarly, the contribution of ramponkars (traditional fishermen) and other villagers who have ventured into other businesses like real estate and catering cannot be minimized.
Salvador Pereira, resident of Pedda Numeio
From the aspect of safety, as well as beautification of the village, installing highmast lighting on all four parts of Varca beach – Pedda Numeio, Pedda Dumottem, 1st Fatrade and 2nd Fatrade – is a priority. Underground electrical cabling in the beach area will also benefit shack owners. With help from the water resources department (WRD), drains along agricultural fields are being desilted.
Telaulim-Varca bridge: It was constructed over River Sal in 2011 by Churchill Alemao when he was PWD minister. It measures 74m in length and connects Telaulim to Varca, Orlim and Mobor
Bus shed: The bus shelter lies opposite Our Lady of Gloria Church and was the first-of-its-kind to be constructed in the Salcete coastal belt. It was built in 1979, coinciding with Unesco’s proclamation of International Year of the Child. Featuring a wall clock, the bus shed was inaugurated by then lieutenant governor Pratap Singh Gill and blessed by bishop Jose Colaco. It was erected on land donated by the Fabrica. The bus stand structure was visualized by Agnelo Mendonca of Reprovaddo. Mendonca not only bore its construction cost, but also maintains it four decades later.
Bailing machine: Varca is one of the first few Goan villages to have a bailing machine, which compresses dry waste into small, manageable bales. These bales are transported by the Goa State Pollution Control Board to be used as recycling fuel in a cement facility at Sedam city in Karnataka.
Our Lady of Gloria Church: Commonly referred to as the Varca church, it was built in 1700. It houses the ‘Senhor Morto’, a miraculous image of Jesus Christ, which has its roots in Sancoale village. The faithful and devotees come from far-and-wide during the exposition which is held on two days every year – Good Friday and the day before Advent begins. The church feast is celebrated on the second Sunday of November every year.
Shree Damodar Sal (Temple): On September 19, 1932, a group of Hindus in the village decided to start a cultural association ‘Shri Krishna Bhajani Mela’. They began performing a ‘bhajan’ before a photo-frame of Lord Krishna in the house of Raghuvir Subray Sambary at Reprovaddo. Forty-six years later, the idol of Lord Damodar was installed in the same house on December 17, 1978.
St Mary’s High School: Founded in 1948, the English-medium educational institute operates in the Varca church premises. It looks after the educational needs of village students from Class I to Class X.
Varca Sports Club complex: A hotspot frequented by villagers of all ages. It comprises the Varca Sports Club stadium, reception hall, an upmarket hair saloon, banks, meat shops, etc.
Varca beach: A paradise for nature lovers, it is among the cleanest beaches in Goa.
Varca rivulet: Old-timers have fond memories of swimming and fishing in this rivulet.
Sand dunes: Another scenic spot lying between the rivulet and the beach, it has pine trees that were planted in the 1980s.
Varca club house: Located in Reprovaddo, it belongs to the ‘Grand Club of Varca’. The club also has a ‘kudd’ (residential unit) for Varca natives at Crawford market, Mumbai.
Late Dr Antonio Maurilo Oswaldo Furtado: A luminary in the field of dermatology, he was popularly known as ‘Ferdam dotor’. He was elected as the first sarpanch of the village and represented Benaulim constituency as its first MLA. He was a senior leader in the United Goans Party which championed Goa’s cause of retaining a separate identity in the historical Opinion Poll that was held on January 16, 1967.
Late Monsignor Fr Roncon Pereira: The title of monsignor in the Roman Catholic Church signifies a priest who has distinguished himself and has been honoured by the Pope for his service to the church.
Late Fr Freddy J da Costa: An ardent lover of Konkani, he was also the founder-editor of the monthly Konkani magazine ‘Gulab’.
Fausto V da Costa: Konkani writer, founder editor of ‘The Goan Review’ and proprietor of ‘Dinfa Productions’
Fabian G da Costa: Proprietor of ‘Manfa Music’
Churchill Alemao: Ex-Goa CM and current MLA from Benaulim constituency.
Joaquim Alemao: Former urban development minister and former MLA of Cuncolim assembly constituency.
Nazario S Pinto: Chairman of the Varca-Orlim Farmers’ Society.
Salvador Pereira: Music teacher of repute for students residing both in Goa and overseas. He also prepared students for British Council music exams in Kuwait.
Rosario Savio da Costa: Masters in environmental conservation from Greenwich University, UK. He was a visiting lecturer in environmental management for the BBA programme in Rosary College. He currently heads the fraud investigation team for a starred resort in Singapore.
Stevan Furtado: Business development and data analyst for Hewlett Packard.
Raymond Pereira: An IT consultant who presently works for the Kuwait parliament. He is also a member of Pedda United Civic Forum.
Roslica Pereira: Member of the Goa team that won the third place in the national women’s football championship at Kerala in 1984-85.
Franky Baretto: Former footballer who played as an ace defender, both for the Indian national team as well as leading football clubs including Salgaocar, East Bengal, Vasco and Churchill Brothers. On the domestic circuit, he has won almost all championships including the National Football League, Durand Cup, Rovers Cup, Federation Cup, etc.