The story of St Estevam, the Goan island
St Estevam (Goa): For islanders, getting married within their village is not only a 'sacrosanct' tradition that has to be followed, but has also been a way of life for over centuries.
Though modernisation has dented this tradition a bit, the villagers still prefer to get their daughters walk down the aisle within the village, owing mostly to historical reasons.
Situated just 30 km away from vibrant Panaji, the "isle of vegetables" as St Estevam is called in the local parlance, has been holding on to the unique legacy of getting their wards married within the village.
However, vegetable cultivation is now on wane as youngsters in this Catholic-dominated settlement prefer jobs on ship to working in traditional agricultural sector.
Interestingly, St Estevam and its villagers are considered as the 'richest in Goa' as every family has its male member employed on board of ship.
However, the 4600-odd Catholic community here has kept the tradition alive.
"May be because this is an island that's why people remained cut off from the outside world and hence they began this tradition," says Sebastian Rangel, a former employee of Mumbai Port Trust (MPT), now retired and back in the village.
Rangel himself entered into a wedlock with a girl from the village, way back in 70s.
The picturesque island, known for its serenity and historical heritage, is locked with Mandovi river from its sides and was connected to the mainstream by construction of a bridge only in 80s.
Before that people used to travel here in canoes and later in motorised ferry boats.
Priscilla Menezes from the village has her own take on the tradition.
"The village is small so girls and boys tend to fall in love with each other during their schooling. Later they get married during their marriageable age," says Menezes, who runs a general store shop in the village.