Friday, May 28, 2010




In Goa all that glitters is not only gold but Marcassite as well. A phone call from a family friend in Baroda requests us to inquire about the price of Marcassite jewellery and although not interested in precious metals, I find myself in a joalharia, along with my parents. During the inquiry my mother makes a passing mention that such jewellery is unique to Goa and is found nowhere else in India. My curiosity leads me to Mr. Ashok Lotlikar of S.R. Lotlikar Jewellers in Margao. He is the third generation owner following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Mr. Raghuvir Vassudev Lotlikar and his father Mr. Shripathrao Raghuvir Lotlikar.
Mr. Ashok Lotlikar greets me as I enter his pristine shop lined with showcases displaying myriad intricately crafted jewellery pieces in gold and silver. The red velvet cushions in the brightly illuminated showcases, gives the gold an added touch of royalty. My eyes search for the pieces I have come searching for and I find quite a few. Comfortably seated, I start asking questions. Mr. Ashok Lotlikar talks passionately about his work and craft.
He informs me that the Marcassite jewellery came to Goa during the Portuguese time. “I don’t know exactly how old this art is. My grandfather and my father made such jewellery, so it should be at least three hundred years old,” he says. He finds questions like whether the Marcassite jewellery reached the Goan shores immediately after the Portuguese conquest or much later difficult to answer because not much is known about this jewellery which many believe is unique to Goa.

The Marcassite jewellery crafted in Goa is chiefly made of gold and silver metals. Zinc is used to harden silver. This hardened silver is then oxidized to give it the black colour, which is the hallmark of this jewellery. The metal is oxidized for about an hour and this process is repeated thrice with a gap of a few hours. This oxidized silver is locally known as ‘platinum’ but the actual metal is never used in the making of the jewellery. The stones used for Marcassite jewellery in Goa come from Switzerland and they are manually fixed by craftsmen. A large set takes at least three weeks to complete.
As far as the designs are concerned, the earliest craftsmen might have been inspired by the samples brought from Europe. This legacy was continued along with some original additions, Mr. Ashok Lotlikar disclosed. In Goa, Marcassite jewellery always has a base of gold unlike in foreign countries where a silver base is used. Elsewhere in India such jewellery is not crafted. Marcassite is hand-crafted and delicately worked upon and hence the big jewellery companies, who focus on machine and heavy work, may not have been interested in such jewellery, opines Mr. Ashok Lotlikar.
Marcassite jewellery is popular with the Catholics as such jewellery is given to a bride at the time of her marriage. The black colour of the set forms a stunning contrast with her white bridal gown. But since the last 10-15 years, according to Mr. Ashok Lotlikar, this jewellery has gained some popularity among the Hindus as well.
Mr. Ashok Lotlikar also proudly draws my attention to another unique type of Goan craftsmanship: the filigree work. By using finely drawn wires of gold, lace-like patterns are produced. This, like the Marcassite jewellery, has no rival in the whole of India.
I wonder why the Marcassite and the filigree type of jewellery are not popular despite their uniqueness. Mr. Ashok Lotlikar explains that this art is dying. It requires great patience, a virtue not compatible with the youngsters of the day. Mr. Ashok Lotlikar once had 7-8 workers, but today he has only two. “But they are good workers,” he hastens to add. Since such jewellery is unique to a particular geographical location, I ask whether the Marcassite and filigree jewellery deserve the much coveted Geographical Indication so that more popularity and encouragement will come its way. “Definitely,” he agrees. After all, should we not ask for what we rightfully deserve?
Mr. Ashok Lotlikar narrated an interesting story about people from north India, especially Punjab, purchasing Marcassite jewellery. Wives of army men, who were posted in Goa, purchased this unique and expensive jewellery. When they went home (or elsewhere) their friends and family members were fascinated by this jewellery and nursed a desire to possess a similar Marcassite set. This word-of-mouth publicity has led Mr. Ashok Lotlikar to send many sets of Marcassite jewellery to north India.
Marcassite jewellery is very expensive. Has the rising prices of gold affected the sales in any way, I ask. “Lok ghevpa asat tê ghetatuch. [People buy irrespective of the prices] The Indian mentality is such that it needs (at least) a minimum amount of gold on the occasion of a marriage. Gold always appreciates and people see the purchase of gold as an investment,’ Mr. Ashok Lotlikar tells me.
The smallest Marcassite set (pendant and earrings), without the gold chain, will cost anything between Rs. 18,000-20,000 and the purchase of a larger set will entirely depend on the depth of one’s pockets!


Pictures by: Dale Menezes

This article was first published by Gomantak Times (Goa)
exclusive on 28th May 2010.

Picture 1: Various types of Marcassite sets
Picture 2: Marcassite and filigree work on display
Picture 3: Mr. Ashok Lotlikar in his shop. Note his grandfather’s portrait which can be seen above the showcase

[Note: Although the 'Marcassite' jewellery is widely used in Goa, nothing much is written about it. Even a google and wiki search reveals nothing. The young writer requests to have feedback from the readers and can be contacted: Dale Menezes (Quepem)- [Email: dale_menezes at]

The writer's recent articles as published by Gomantak Times:

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28 May 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010




Note:The parishioners of Utorda are all set to inaugurate the new sacristy, mini community hall and prayer room of the church of Our Lady Of Lourdes on the 13th of May, 2010

Utorda, a village in the Salcette taluka, is immersed in the sounds of the Arabian Sea and the constant chug of the speeding trains passing through its surroundings. The 4000 plus parishioners of Utorda distributed in some 464 houses are all set to inaugurate the new addition/renovation done to the church of Our Lady of Lourdes.

[The façade of the Utorda church - Pic: Dale Menezes]

The church is more than a hundred years old and the move of the parishioners along with the parish priest can be viewed as an attempt to meet the present-day demands of the congregation while simultaneously striking a balance between the old and the new, in preserving heritage.

A little history
The Our Lady of Lourdes church was originally a chapel built through the efforts of Fr. Joao Jose Pereira, his brother Aleixo Piedade Pereira, with the assistance of other villagers. On the 30th of October, 1894 this chapel was thrown open for the faithful. In due course of time the flock of the Utorda chapel grew in number and as a result the chapel was elevated to the status of a church by the then Archbishop Rev. Fr. Raul Gonsalves on the 13th of May, 1976. Late Rev. Fr. Joaquim Dias Alberto was the parish priest at that time. Originally, the chapel was constructed having the bare minimal spiritual needs of the people in mind. With the railway route (which runs a few yards in front of the church) and private properties flanking on either sides, there is virtually no scope for expansion. Yet, the people of Utorda have learnt to manage their spiritual affairs within the limited resources.

[The Main Altar of the Utorda church - Pic: Dale Menezes]

The addition/renovation work In order to find out more about the addition/renovation to the church in Utorda, I contacted Rev. Fr. Britto Fernandes, the parish priest. It is under his leadership and guidance the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes church have stepped forward to see their endeavour come to fruition. Thirty years after the chapel was elevated to the status of a church, the parish of Utorda is all set to usher change. The sacristy, as informed by Fr. Britto, was in bad condition. This led to the renovation of the sacristy as well as the addition of an air-conditioned prayer room (where the Blessed Sacrament will be available to the faithful throughout the day) and a mini community hall. A garage is also adjusted in the limited space.

[Rev. Fr. Britto Fernandes - Pic: Dale Menezes]

Fr. Britto is a man all for heritage as he says that every precaution was taken not to harm the structure of the church in any way. “Ami adli igorz ji asa ti toxich dovorlea,” [We have not touched the church in any way] Fr. Britto informed me. In fact extreme care was taken not to demolish the exterior wall of the church while making way for the extension. The teak-wood doors which have stood the test of time were also re-used. The foundation for the new construction was laid on 11th February, 2009, the day of the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, during the tenure of the committee comprising of the Parish Priest (President), Mr. Jose Pereira (Procurator), Mr. Elvis Pereira (Treasurer) and members, Mr. Marcelino Braganza and Mrs. Linda Pereira.

Inside the church, the century old wood altars are exquisitely crafted and at once evoke devotion. Fr. Britto also told me about the efforts put into preserving the false-ceiling made of wood, as he showed me around the interior of the church. Fr. Britto has made prudent use of the limited space available to make room for the new structure. A generator room which existed and was slightly in the path of new structure was not pulled down as it could be used as a store room for the church.
Fr. Britto agrees that the Utorda church has set an example to preserve the old and the new. “Definitely heritage is very important as it is the wealth and health of Goan society,” he opined. “Ek pavtt kitem-i moddlear (portem) mellta?” [Once we destroy something, can we get it back?] are his parting words to me.
The inauguration of the new sacristy, mini community hall, prayer room and the garage will take place on the 13th of May, 2010 under the new committee which has the Parish Priest as the President, Mr. Domingos Braganza (Procurator), Mr. Elvis Pereira (Treasurer) and members: Mr. Tony Pereira and Mrs. Emy Pereira. Rev. Fr. Jose Remedios Fernandes, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman will bless and inaugurate the new additions.

[As published in Gomantak Times (today) 12th May 2010].

Pictures courtesy: Dale Menezes

DSC06431: Rev. Fr. Britto Fernandes

DSC06434: The Main Altar of the Utorda church

DSC06438: The façade of the Utorda church

Pictures exclusive to