As I was going to work on the last day of the year, I was stopped by a gang of children at the village cross road, the smallest one rattling a collection box made from a shoebox in my face. They all chanted ‘Old man’ ,’Old man’ and no further explanations were forthcoming.

Luckily, I knew from experience what they were up to; they were infact collecting donations to build the effigy of the ‘Old man’ , the sad representative of the dying year, that was to be burnt at the crossroad at midnight. This is a local village tradition in many areas in Goa, where children build an effigy out of village rubbish, to symbolise all the negativity of the passing year and then burn it at the crossroads , after the midnight mass.The children would also go around collecting some handouts of money ,which in the New Year would be divided up to be given to the local old age home and to hold a little picnic for the local children.

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The straw effigy of the old year sits in state at the village crossroad , waiting to be burnt at midnight

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