Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mhamai Kamat Residence in Panjim, Goa

Mhamay Kamat Residence is right in the centre of Panjim City. Behind Old Secretariat, across from Abbey Faria statue and the building next to Clube Nationale, is the 400 year old Double storied  in white and yellow ochre is the ancestral home the Mhamay Kamat family. 
If you are a passerby, you cannot make out that it is a residential building, as there are a couple of garment and textile shops on the left end of the building and an office on the first floor. The windows are shut and I havenot seen the main door being open.   
It is a well maintained traditional looking Goan building. On this day of Anant Chaturdashi, 11th. day after Ganesh chaturthy, the building comes to life with lights, garlands and mango leaves adorning the front door. The doors are thrown open to the public on this day. 
A corridor runs along the front wall around a large courtyard. This is easily the widest corridor I have seen in a residential building. It circles the central courtyard. There are rooms and hall opening out of this corridor.
Mhamai Kamat residence is a large sprawling building.
When I went visiting in the evening, it was raining hard. The rain water from the sloping roof was emptying into the central courtyard. It is more like a garden than a courtyard, with trees and plants, soaking up the rain / storm water.
The plinth is raised by a couple of feet. The foresight of the architects of those days is to be appreciated. The raised floor level keeps the monsoon rain water out of the house. 
The coloums are thick giving the impression that they will take any amount of weight from top and they are here to stay for many more centuries.
For the first time ever, I saw double corridors ie. two rows of corridors. If you look closely at these photos, the inner corridor becomes the corridor on the first floor. They get adequate light and ventilation through a gallery like ambience. it will also connect the ground and first floors.
The staircases and railing are of solid wood. One cannot see any sagging or cracking in any of the wooden rafters or beams.
Series of photographs in black and white adorn the walls of the corridor. Most of people in them are the family's ancestors. One can see their attire, for both men and women.
There is another courtyard adjacent to the kitchen. There is a Tulsi plant in a planter in the middle of the courtyard. There are some more corridors running outside the kitchen and living quarters.
Today being the festive occasion, the house was abuzz with activity. Food was being prepared for the 1000 odd people who come for Harati, Puja and Prasad (Dinner). This tradition of opening the house to guest and providing dinner for such large numbers, has been in the family for a long time.
Cooking in the large kitchen, on fire wood over temporary stoves, we saw several large pots.The place was filled with smoke and smells!
The hosts were very polite, answered all our queries, showed us the house and requested us to stay for dinner after the offering to the deity. They had already laid out wooden seats for the guests. Dinner is served on plantain leaves, for the first few batches. Later on, buffet will be arranged for the rest.
The large puja room was like a temple, full of flowers, lights and priests. The puja will be concluded the next morning, with harati and offering of prasad. 
Else where in the corridor, Statue of lord Dattatreya was installed and every thursday, puja is performed. 
It was heart warming to be present on such an auspicious day, among such humble and friendly people, in such a grand old house reverberating with positive vibrations .....
Long live such traditions ....

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