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Keeping tradition alive: Carvalho Sweets' 80-year journey at Bandra Fair

Updated on: 13 September,2023 02:23 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Nascimento Pinto |

The Carvalhos - Antonio, Josefina and Amanda are as busy as can be this Bandra Fair as they have set up their stall yet again. Set up by Antonio’s parents in the 1940s, he is busy making Goan sweets and loves every bit of it during this time of the year

Keeping tradition alive: Carvalho Sweets' 80-year journey at Bandra Fair

Antonio Carvalho's family has been putting up a stall at Bandra Fair for over 80 years on the Mount Mary steps. Photo Courtesy: Amanda Carvalho

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Keeping tradition alive: Carvalho Sweets' 80-year journey at Bandra Fair

Key Highlights

  1. Antonio Carvalho`s parents put up a stall at Bandra Fair in the early 1940s
  2. Carvalho is now continuing the family legacy by putting up a stall there every year
  3. The Carvalhos at Stall No 138 (A) sell different sweets including Goan specialities

Antonio Carvalho is busy moulding the boondi laddoos when his daughter Amanda passes the phone to him to chat with this writer on a hectic Monday evening. It is only one of many things he has made during the day with the help of his wife Josefina, who has been helping him for the last one week getting ready for Bandra Fair. He shares, “We started making the sweets 10 days before Bandra Fair started by making the channa atta, mixing sugar to make the kadio bodios and all that.” They are joined by their daughter once she returns from work before she takes over the stall. “On Saturday, we were awake till 3 am, and woke up at 4 am, so we had only one hour sleep,” adds the Bandra resident.   

The family is continuing a legacy that goes back to more than 80 years ago when Carvalho's mother, who first set up a stall at Bandra Fair at Mount Mary's Basilica in the 1940s. The Goan family, who settled down in Bandra before that, has been hand-making different kinds of sweets like kadio bodios, sugar coated cashews, peanut jaggery chikki, boondi and sev laddoos, as well as Goan specials like doce, dodol, pinag, Bolinas, Bath cake, and even Prawn Balchao. 

Antonio shares, " My mother used to make different kinds of sweets at that time with the help of my father. Since it was Bandra Fair, a lot of people used to put up stalls for the feast, so, even we put up one on the steps, and soon after that we started making Goan sweets. After my father died in 1970, my brother and I started helping my mother and continued the stall. We used to bring the ingredients from Goa and make them. However, after 1995, when my mother died, my brother and I started handling the stall." Carvalho continued making sweets, and selling them during Christmas, like the family has been doing for a long time. 

He shares, “Earlier, my mother and father used to wake up at 4 am and start making it because the stall used to start at 5:30 am and put up the stall and decorate it. We used to enjoy seeing my dad making the sweets.” The family’s love for making sweets of different kinds, especially for Bandra Fair is in their blood. “I enjoy doing it that is why I used to make Goan sweets for doce, dodol and pinag,” he adds. 

This year, Antonio has returned to be behind the stall. After 26 years, he has taken over the making of the kadio bodios after his brother died before the Covid-19 pandemic. As always, Bandra Fair is special, and he is going about business as usual. Ask him how much he has already made, and he says, "I have made more than 50 kilos of sweets till now for this time.” The 56-year-old Bandra resident, who lives near the Bandra Steps continues, "I do not make a fixed number of sweets; I just continue making when I get to know they are getting over at the stall." 

The stall number 138 (A) is one among only two or three other stalls selling Goan sweets at the Bandra Fair this year. Over the last five decades, Antonio, who has been at the stall since 1970, has seen many changes at Bandra Fair and misses every bit of it. He shares, “Bandra Fair has changed a lot over the last 50 years. The old times were very good and enjoyable. People used to come and enjoy the fair and make a picnic out of it. Nowadays, nothing of that sort is there anymore.” Even Amanda, who has been a part of the legacy, has seen it change over the last 20 years, and more has to do with restrictions that are now in place compared to before, and even misses September Garden, the annual show that used to take place in Bandra earlier. 

The Bandra local, mans the stall along with family friends, and usually takes a week-long leave during Bandra Fair to be there at the stall. However, after Covid-19 pandemic, since the number of people coming to the Fair has reduced, she has taken the liberty of working for a few days during the Fair. 

Just like her father, Amanda has grown up seeing her parents making the sweets and helping them make and sell them at Bandra Fair, along with her uncle. In the past, she used to even take half days from work, only to be at the stall because of the whole experience. "I tell my father to stop now because it is very tiring and hectic, but he wants to continue his family's legacy," shares Amanda, indicating that Antonio doesn't intend to stop any time soon. 

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