[From L to R] Clayton Barreto, Jason D’Costa, Juliet DMenezes-D’Costa, Oscar Castellino, Simon Rodrigues, Imtiyaz Sheikh, High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami, Patricia Rozario, Mark Troop, Adorabelle Amaral, Flavio Gracias, Dione Barreto, Ethan Barreto, Mary Ann Cordeiro and Rabi Martins.
Traditional Goan savouries, snacks and sweets were presented at the High Commission of India’s annual Christmas reception in Central London on December 12.
This year, the High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom H.E Vikram Doraiswami entrusted the responsibility to Clayton Barreto, the only Goan who serves as Social Secretary to the Indian High Commission.
The Guest of Honour was the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, MBE, Dean of Westminster. Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain His Excellency Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía also graced the occasion.
A number of clergy, members of organisations, dignitaries, politicians and councillors of Goan origin and from other parts of India were present at the event.
Among the several Goan clergy present included Canon Norbert Fernandes (the first Goan-origin canon in Westminster Cathedral), Priests from the Pilar Fathers, Fr Stephen Dias (Parish Priest of Ss. Peter and Paul, Mitcham and Local Superior of Pilar Fathers in UK), Fr Jerry Fernandes (Assistant Parish Priest of Ss. Peter and Paul Mitcham), Fr Feroz Fernandes (Parish Priest of St Vincent de Paul Church Osterley), Fr Francis Colaco (Parish Priest of St Peter's at West Swindon), Fr Mark Furtado (Assistant at Holy Rood parish, Swindon) and Fr Patrick D'Souza, (Goan Chaplian, for the Dioceses of Westminster, Southwark and Brentwood).
Priests from other congregations included Fr Jovito D’Souza SJ, Fr Roshy Roberts, Divine UK priests Fr Paul Parekkattil VC and Fr Paul Pallichamkudiyil, VC, and other priests.
[From L to R] Divine UK priests Fr Paul Parekkattil VC and Fr Paul Pallichamkudiyil, VC, Canon Norbert Fernandes, Fr Jerry Fernandes, SFX, Fr Roshy Roberts, Fr Feroz Fernandes, SFX, High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami, Fr Francis Colaco, SFX, Fr Patrick DSouza, SFX, Fr Jovito D’Souza, SJ, Fr Stephen Dias, SFX, and Fr Mark Furtardo, SFX.
The councillors of Goan origin present included Swindon Deputy Mayor Imtiyaz Sheikh and his wife and Councillor Adorabelle Amaral, Watford Councillor Rabi Martins, while members of Goan organisations included Flavio Gracias and Juliet D Menezes (GOA UK).
Other guests included Patricia Rozario (opera singer) and Mark Troop (founder of The Chamber Music Company).
GOAN, INDIAN FLAVOURS
Clayton Barreto made all the arrangements by getting prominent Goans from London to prepare Goan savouries, snacks and sweets for the occasion.
A two-tier Christmas cake was prepared by Clanny Rodrigues, the Head Pastry Chef at The Middle Eight Hotel, in Holburn-London and 1st runner up in UK’s famous TV baking show Bake Off The Professionals in 2020.
The Goan Bebinca was prepared by Sergio Dias, who is considered one of the best Bebinca confectioners in London.
Simon Rodrigues and Malcolm Silveira from Hounslow, who run ‘Maka Tik Naka’, prepared Goan and Indian savouries and snacks like Forminha, Canapés, Prawn Tempura, Lamb Boti Skewers, Chicken Tikka Canapés, vegetable patties and other dishes.
Speaking to The Goan, Sergio Dias, who was unable to attend the function, said he had a request from Clayton Barreto from the High Commissioner’s office to prepare the Goan Bebinca.
All invitees were welcomed by a special Christmas recital by the Choir of King’s College London led by Dr Joseph Fort, where 25 students sang three Carols.
Goan Opera Singer Oscar Castellino sang the carol ‘O Holy Night’ in operatic version in English and in Hindi. Oscar, a student of the Opera who now studies the art in UK and mentored by Goan Patricia Rozario OBE and her husband Mark Troop, two renowned Arts & Performance powerhouses from the UK. The musical presentations were appreciated by the guests at the function.
The High Commissioner H.E Vikram Doraiswami appreciated the entire programme and commended his Social Secretary Clayton Barreto for arranging the entire event.
He was pleased with the Goan savouries and sweets, particularly the Goan Bebinca, and said he had never tasted such a delicious dessert.
Dr David Hoyle was also very impressed the Goan savouries and sweets, and said it was very different and distinct from the Indian cuisine.
Indian High Commission lauded for focus on Goa
A number of Goans present at the event have appreciated the focus on Goa at the High Commission of India’s annual Christmas reception at the India House in Aldwych-London.
Watford Councillor Rabi Martins said the High Commissioner and his team had made them welcome at the event.
“I am told the credit for the idea of Christmas at India House goes to Clayton Barreto who hails from Goa and I was, therefore, not surprised that the event had a distinctly Goan flavour right down to the Bebinca dessert,” said Rabi.
“Without doubt, the highlight for me was celebrating the occasion in the company of the rising Goan opera singer Oscar Castellino. What a talent! I discovered he was being coached by another Goan opera star Patricia Rozario, who I also met for the first time at previous Christmas function at the same place.”
“As the Commissioner reminded us, India is home to many religions, and we celebrate them all.
Long may the tradition continue at the High Commission in London.”
Swindon Deputy Mayor Imtiyaz Shaikh and his wife and Swindon Councillor Adorabelle Amaral were also impressed with the Christmas reception.
“Adorabelle and I have attended several HCI events, but this was our first time seeing the Christmas light switch on this year. It was undoubtedly a remarkable and unforgettable occasion,” said Imtiyaz.
“We are grateful to High Commissioner H.E V Doraiswami, Minister of Coordination Deepak Choudhary and Social Secretary to the Indian High Commissioner Clayton Barreto who took the initiative to organise the event.”
“Guests were treated to a sumptuous special Christmas party snacks catered by our very own Goan caterers, which added a lovely touch to the evening. A special Kodo and Proso Millet Kheer dessert added a millet-based highlight to the food for the International Year of Millets celebrations,” Imtiyaz added.
Canon Norbert Fernandes, the first Goan-origin canon in Westminster Cathedral, described the Christmas reception as brilliant, adding that much thought and care went into every detail. Fr Feroz Fernandes, Parish Priest of St Vincent de Paul Church Osterley, said the Christmas reception at the India House was a poignant reminder of India's diversity.
“The guests ranged from the length and breadth of Indian ethnic and linguistic mosaic. One thing that stood out for me was the members of the Clergy, especially from Goa, participating in the celebration and putting aside their busy Advent schedules;” said Fr Feroz.
“All the speeches were to the point – a message encapsulated by the High Commissioner in three simple words: Love, Joy and Sharing – which is the cornerstone of every celebration like Christmas.”
The Indian High Commission at Central London is illuminated for Christmas.