Mario Miranda – a jewel from Goa is no more

Mario Miranda 1926 – 2011

There wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation as Goa bid its last adieu to renowned cartoonist Mario Miranda whose mortal remains were consigned to the flames at the Hindu crematorium on December 12, in the presence of his immediate family, close friends, relatives and distinguished personalities.

Mario’s coffin was taken from his residence to the Saviour of the World Church in Loutolim, where assistant parish priest Fr Bolmax Pereira was the main celebrant at the requiem mass.

Fr Romualdo R De Souza, in his homily said, “What is very important is that we thank God for this brilliant talent given to our land. Mario will always be remembered for that and that he chose to come to Goa and settle here.”

While the Margao-based Cotta family choir group’s choice and delivery of hymns filled the church with feelings of love, loss and longing, the solo version of ‘Ave Maria’ was heart-piercing. The Latin ‘Ave Maria’ was especially played in honour of Mario and Habiba, as the song was known to be Mario’s favourite.

Many Irish and Portuguese songs that were played rendered a rather poignant mood to the somber occasion. The two farewell songs by well-known musician Emiliano da Cruz, who was later accompanied by fado singer Sonia Sirsat while the coffin was carried out of the church, brought tears to the eyes.

Reminiscing Goa of the past, portrayed excellently by the late artist such as the times when there were few vehicles, chief minister Digambar Kamat said Goa was fast changing and that if he wanted to recall the old days, he would set time apart and go through Mario’s work. “Goa had lost one of its foremost sons but Mario Miranda’s work will remain immortal,” added Kamat who attended the funeral.

Kamat’s fellow cabinet minister Alexio Sequeira also praised Miranda’s personality, temperament and character. “It’s not just about his paintings,” the Loutoulim MLA said, adding that Miranda was very witty and had a great sense of humour that came across through his well acclaimed work.

While pointing out that Miranda had a great insight, Emiliano, speaking to reporters recalled having lunch with Mario in Bombay when on the radio it was announced that Moraji Desai was to be Prime Minister. “Miranda immediately drew a cartoon about Morarji Dessai and prohibition (ban on alcohol) and ten minutes later Dessai had indeed passed such an order.”

“Goa has lost a great son of the soil and a great cartoonist, whose work would come alive whenever you had to look through them,” added artist Maendra Alvares.

After the funeral mass at Loutolim, Mario’s body was brought to the Hindu crematorium at Pajifond, Margao for cremation, in deference to his wish which he had disclosed to his wife. Mario’s son Rishaad lit the funeral pyre.

People from all walks of life paid their last respects to the departed soul. Among those present were fashion designer wendell Rodricks, Padma Shri award winner Maria Aurora Couto, musician Remo Fernandes, artist and heritage lover Victor Hugo Gomes, cartoonist Alexyz, industrialists Dattaraj Salgaocar, Srinivas Dempo, Ralph De Souza, judges (retd) Eurico D’Silva and Ferdinand Rebello, writer Victor Rangel Ribeiro, Salvador Figueredo and Bondo, businessman Pandurang “Bhai” Naik and others.

Mario, who breathed his last in the wee hours of Sunday at his ancestral house at Loutolim, received many national and international honours, including the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award of the country, in 2002 and Padma Shri in 1988. He is survived by wife Habiba and two sons – Raul and Rishaad.

See: for Mario’s biography, work & influences.

(Text ‘The Times of India’, Drawings ‘From Goa with love’)