WHO WANTS ANOTHER SAMADHI AT MIRAMAR BEACH?

Miramar beach is Panaji’s one and only city beach for aam aadmi rest and recreation… desperately seeking tender loving care, but no samadhi blocks please. That’s the general opinion of Panaji residents

By Tara Narayan

WHO wants another samadhi at Panaji’s Miramar beach? Ask around and many more will see, no thank you, in fact we don’t mind if the existing samadhi of Goa’s first chief minister, Dayanand Bandodkar, is dismantled and taken somewhere more appropriate! Is a public beach any place for memorials to politicians alive or dead? No, it is not. It is also illegal to demarcate public places of rest and recreation for the general public for building concrete structures like memorials or samadhi. In this context, few members of the public like the idea of Miramar beach becoming a memorial beach.
Who doesn’t love Miramar Beach and who doesn’t want to encroach on it for one reason or another? The latest is that even former chief ministers want to be cremated and commemorated there forever, never mind that in asli Hinduism cremation is meant to be just that…flesh to fire and fire to ash, and gone with the wind.
Surely that’s a metaphorical way of saying I believe in leaving mother earth uncluttered with concrete monuments to mortal vanity! But…(sigh)…there is so much mortal vanity parading itself in our times and oftentimes it is of the political kind. In Tamil Nadu former chief ministers wanted permanent samadhi memorials on famous Marina beach in Chennai…first MGR, then his one-time girlfriend Jayalalitha (also chief minister whose blow-by-blow revelations of how she lived life queen size boggles our mortal minds, read a recent issue of The Week for a close-up education of how she called the shots in hospital for months on end before the end) wanted to be next to him in stony silence at Marina beach!
WHEN I was residing at Dona Paula there was a phase when every morning or evening I would walk up to Miramar beach and spend some time at the little tree-filled Rotary garden which used to exist exactly where the late chief minister Manohar Parrikar was cremated on March 18, 2019. Here were benches and the open sea blew in gusts of cooling breezes, quite balmy to spend some time here, although Goa’s first chief minister, Dayanand Bandodkar, has his memorial just nearby! It looks like a solid prison of stone. If I read Goa’s first CM’s personality right I bet his spirit is trapped there in anguish. The Bandodkar memorial needs to be dismantled and the open space restored to the public.
Understandably, the Bandodkar memorial complex became a free for all for dogs, crows, cows, couples seeking some corner privacy and a few unsavoury incidents may have taken place. It was not maintained on a daily basis. Daughter Shashikala Kakodkar must have kicked up a ruckus and had the whole memorial re-designed to look like a locked in stony fortress of a prison!
At one time Miramar beach offered so much freedom of movement and rest and recreation to members of the general public. One could walk with one’s thoughts amidst the grove of casuarinas, frangipanis, Malabar almonds, sit a while chatting with friends…at the little Rotary garden which was looked after and the benches welcome — although one may have had to wipe them a bit before sitting down. All this disappeared except for the trees and now in the sandy stretches there are only a couple of tea/coffee vendor shacks doing business.
The new Manohar Parrikar memorial is reportedly all set to come up where the old Rotary garden was, cheek-by- jowl next to the Bandodkar memorial. This stretch has been sealed off by tall tin walls just where the pavement food stalls are now parked, functioning as a miserable public food court of sorts (a far, far cry from the public food courts of Malaysia and Singapore)! The question arises, will a prison-styled concrete memorial come up here for the late Manohar bab?
It’s absurd that the few spaces of rest and recreation the common man has are being usurped by politicians. First of all it is illegal in law and secondly, if the memorial is going to be yet another closed monumental structure it is definitely going to be an eyesore inviting the curses of the general public. Whatever the lazy quality of maintenance this lovely stretch of riverine beach by the Mandovi river in Panaji is much loved by aam aadmi and tourists for some breezy snoozy rest time and recreation. It’s Ponjekars’ favourite morning and evening walk with bibi-bache and senior babalog…as the monsoon approaches it’s the nearest seawater beach to go to for a soak to rid the body of itches, aches and moans. Seawater bathing being considered a healing activity in naturopathy, and it works. Ask any old-timer niz Goankar, seawater bathing just before the monsoon is a time-tested traditional thing to soothe body beautiful.
Alas, now it looks like even the great shakers and movers of the good life and times in Goa desire to be cremated (if not buried) at Miramar beach! And before they die they may make wills desirous of a sacred monument for forever after remembrance. Can public space on a beach really be usurped for a public monument or mausoleum no matter how great or venerated politicians or leaders?
It’s a question residents of Panaji must redress now, or else in years to come Miramar beach will be lost to politicians of various hue seeking eternal fame in monuments for the public to come, gape and scowl at. Miramar beach is where residents and tourists want to come and take a peaceful break. Aam aadmi don’t have lucrative incomes to holiday at exotic destinations around the world!
A Miramar beach visit offers rest and recreation of a very humble, modest nature. A walk of freedom by the beach or garden or place where they won’t have to pay for fresh air, water and sunshine. To breathe the sweet air of escape for a while…to feel the salty breeze blowing through their hair, taste it on their lips and skin, look at the “trees of life” — tall, slender, dancing coconut trees, whatever woodsy trees floral or fruit bearing have been planted for shade and birdsong in the air at dawn and dusk.
Political memorials shutting out the public are bad in law as well as crass in political sentiment. This is to say nobody wants a samadhi or a monument at Miramar beach, unless it is in the form of garden grounds open to the public freely. Even Dayanand Bandodkar’s monstrous memorial may be redesigned to be more of a part of public-friendly garden grounds. Needless to say the entire Miramar beach has been stagnating into a foul, unmaintained wilderness and is now in dire need of tender loving care and affectionate maintenance.
In its present form it continues to be a dumping ground for garbage, an uncomfortable hawkers’ food court with a Sulabh Sauchalya nearby….the disorganized pavement food court is no decent public food court by any stretch of imagination, it doesn’t even offer minimum facilities like potable water to food vendors or the general public. A thirsty public buys bottled water and other junk synthetic drinks and dump their empty plastics around the trees. And we say we love trees! Vile public perception is part of the sorry and regrettable scenario.
The real larger picture here is that if Miramar beach converts into a memorial beach for politicians big and small, old and new, it will be continuing a bad precedent breaking CRZ laws meant for the conservation of public spaces for the public, not for building political memorials. Are Ponjekars going to allow Miramar beach to become an increasingly built-up memorial beach?

We asked around in an impromptu poll if there should be another memorial at Miramar beach and most folk said, No! Not even for late, much loved Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar….

Manohar Parrikar is a killer of democracy and doesn’t deserve a statue. I went on hunger strike for 12 days for him to resign but he hung on to his chair for one and half years…Parrikar was a selfish man. He was not like Bhausaheb Bandodkar at all who was a totally different kind of man, Bandodkar was a leader of the masses. I am against any statue or memorial for Manohar Parrikar anywhere!
— Rajan Gadge,
RTI activist

No, not at Miramar beach. There are umpteen other places where they can build him a memorial. Just because one memorial is already there it does not mean they have to repeat it! A beach is for a purpose, for people to relax, swim, spent some time there, but the beach is unmaintained. Children play volley ball with empty bottles…if I have to walk with shoes on down a beach it is not a beach for me.
— Adolf Fernandes of Freedom Holidays

I am of the view that nothing should come up on that side of the road. That is Miramar beach side from where it begins at Aivio village right down to Miramar beach circle – GTDC Residency…area on beach side of road should be developed purely beachside recreation grounds for public and should be public-friendly. If more samadhi come up imagine a beach full of samadhi of all chief ministers of Goa!
— Anand Madgavkar,
Dona Paula resident

I don’t know where our beach is going away! We don’t want any construction down Miramar beach, this is the place where we spent our childhood playing in the evening, we were always going down to Miramar beach and want our children to have fun there. Memorials are not meant to be built along beach but up on some higher land! Beaches are meant for recreation for everyone young and old, I don’t want beaches to be blocked up for any memorials.
— Pragnya Naik, Housewife

Miramar beach was wonderful because unlike most beaches which are hidden away, it was part of Panjim city itself. Even without transport it was easily accessible. Unfortunately it is paying the price now and is being used as a funeral ground for politicians by other politicians trying to get political mileage and win votes from supporters of the deceased. Forget a new memorial for Parrikar, I think even the existing memorial should be renovated and made more child-friendly and opened up to the public.
— Nikhil Desai,
Student

I don’t want to see more useless concrete structures on the beach or anywhere! If they must have a memorial for Parrikar, why can’t they make something practical and useful. Let his followers collect funds and build a hospital or school in his name! They can have a big statue of him in the front and people will actually remember him gratefully.
— K Mascarenhas,
Entrepreneur

I’ve grown up in Miramar and I’m sick and tired of seeing them destroying the beach. I remember in my teenage days seeing older college kids using the Bandodkar samadhi to smoke and drink in secret. Don’t build more walls on the beach please. It’s meant to be an open area. if you must build a memorial to Parrikar make it an open playground and then make sure it is well maintained!
— R D’Souza,
Artist

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