Goan Catholics

Goan Catholics
Goenche Katholik
Regions with significant populations
India India (1954) 1,000,000[1]
     Goa (2001) more than 300,000[2]
     Mumbai (1960s) ~100,000[3]
Portugal Portugal 80,000~100,000
     Nairobi (prior to 1960s) ~5000[4]
Uganda Uganda (1931) ~1124[5]
     Kampala (1931) ~500[6]
     Tanganyika Tanganyika (1931) ~1,722[7]
     Dar es Salaam (1993) 700[8]
Pakistan Pakistan (1954) ~30,000[9]
     Karachi (1954) ~10,000[9]
Persian Gulf Arab states ~20,000[9]
Canada Canada (1999) ~23,000[10]
     Ontario (1999) ~16,000[10]
     London >6,000[11]
     Swindon (2001) ~9,000[12]
Christianity (Roman Catholicism)
Related ethnic groups
Konkani people, Karwari Catholics, Mangalorean Catholics, Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins, Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins, Daivadnya Brahmins, Indo-Aryans

The Goan Catholics (Konkani: Goenche Katholik) are an ethno-religious community of Roman Catholics and their descendants from the state of Goa, located on the west coast of India. They are Konkani people and speak the Konkani language. Portuguese seafarers arrived in Goa in 1510, and Catholic missionary activities soon followed, as Pope Nicholas V had enacted the Papal bull Romanus Pontifex in 1455, which granted the patronage of the propagation of the Christian faith in Asia.

The Edict of the Goa Inquisition and the Portuguese–Maratha wars are notable events in their history which led to the migration of many Goan Catholics to neighbouring regions. After the Goans converted to Christianity, their new religion came to be superimposed on their ancestral Hindu customs, beliefs, and caste system. Their Feni, a native liquor,[13] and various contributions to music and literature are well-known.[14]

The culture of the Goan Catholics is a blend of Indo-Hindu and Luso-Christian cultures. The notion of Goan identity—initially closely linked with Portuguese culture—was forged after the integration of Goa into the Indian Union in 1961. Contemporary Goan Catholic culture can be best described as an increasingly Anglicised Indo-Latin culture. The Goan Catholic diaspora is concentrated in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, the Lusosphere, and English-speaking countries such as Great Britain and Canada. Many Goan Catholics speak English as their first language. Music is an integral part of their lifestyles.

Ethnic identity

The Roman Catholics who originate from the state of Goa, a region on the west coast of India, and their descendants are generally referred to as Goan Catholics. After the Portuguese possession of Goa in 1510, the Portuguese consolidated their power by imposing their own government and cultural traditions which are still retained in Goa). All Goans were granted Portuguese citizenship,[15] and were Portuguese citizens thereafter.[16]

During the late 1800s, there began a large-scale emigration of Goan Catholics to Bombay, in search of employment opportunities. At the time Bombay was part of the British Raj. Émigrés learned of the existence of another native Roman Catholic community, the better-known East Indian Catholics, who already resided in Bombay. Because the East Indian, Goan, and Mangalorean Catholic communities were converted to Christianity by the Portuguese, the British referred to them as "Portuguese Christians."[17] All share the same churches and attend many of the same religious functions.[18]

On 3 February 1951, to avert international criticism, Portugal amended her Constitution to declare Goa as an overseas province of Portugal.[19][20] After Goa was integrated into the Indian Union in 1961, the Goan Catholics, who had identified themselves with Portugal and Portuguese culture, did not fully integrate with Indian culture.[21] Under Portuguese law, Goans born before 1961—when Portugal's rule over Goa ended—and their children and grandchildren are entitled to Portuguese citizenship.[22] During the first post-Liberation years from Portuguese rule, Goans found it difficult to embrace the term "Indian". They called themselves "Goan" deliberately to distinguish themselves.[23]

Aside from pure-blooded Konkani people, Goan Catholics are Luso-Indians, of part-Portuguese and part-Konkani ancestry.


Pre-Portuguese era

It was believed till recently that there was no concrete evidence that Christianity prevailed in Goa before the Portuguese arrived, but it was believed that St. Bartholomew, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, brought the Gospel and spread it in Konkan, including Goa, just as St. Thomas had done in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in Southern India.[24]

However, the work of the historian Jose Cosme Costa, Apostolic Christianity in Goa and in the West Coast (Pilar, Goa: Xavierian Publication Society, 2009), makes a case for the existence of Christianity in Goa before the arrival of the Portuguese. He speaks of Goa as a trading centre with the Middle East and with Rome). He suggests that the Apostle Thomas might have made his way over land from northern India to Kerala. He also examines the evidence of the Apostle Bartholomew having done more or less the same thing. Ch. 6 is dedicated to the examination of Pre-Portuguese references to Christianity in Goa. Ch. 7 examines the vestiges of Pre-Portuguese Christian Customs in Goa and the Konkan. Ch. 8 concludes the book with the "latest archaeological discovery": a "Thomas Cross" hidden in a smallish monument, surmounted by a Latin Cross, near the old Goa harbour. The Thomas Cross bears an inscription in Pahlavi, which, Costa reports, was the liturgical language of the church associated with the Metropolitan of Fars.[25] Costa also suggests that the 'Betal' worshipped quite commonly in Goa is a corruption of 'Bartholomew'. Fr H.O. Mascarenhas, reports Costa, even proposed that there were Christian temples dedicated to the persons of the Trinity: Abanath / Bhutnath (Father Lord), Ravalnath (from Rabboni – Rabulna – Rabulnath) / Bhai rav (Brother Lord), and Atman / Bhavka Devta, Santeri, Ajadevi (Spirit).[26] What then happened to this early Christianity, if it did exist? Costa proposes that the Portuguese destroyed the vestiges and forcibly assimilated these Christians to their own form of Christianity. Those who resisted were among those who fled Goa, he says. It could also be when the zealous Bahmani Muslim empire ruled over Goa.

Portuguese era

Afonso de Albuquerque was the first Portuguese explorer who landed in Goa on 25 January 1510.

The Portuguese came to India with the ambition of creating an empire and propagating Christianity. The Portuguese missionaries who accompanied the conquerors were the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, and Augustinians. The Portuguese first reached the west coast of India when Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut in 1498.[27] On 25 November 1510 Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa from the Sultan of Bijapur and made it their headquarters since 1530.[28] By 1544 the Portuguese conquered the districts of Bardez, Tiswadi, and Salcette.[29] Around the same time Pope Nicholas V enacted the Papal bull Romanus Pontifex. This bull granted the patronage ("Padroado") of the propagation of the Christian faith in Asia to the Portuguese and rewarded them a trade monopoly in newly discovered areas.[30] Trade was initiated shortly after Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498, but the Portuguese were initially not interested in converting the locals. After four decades, the Catholic Church threatened to open Asia to all Catholics.

The Se Cathedral dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, in Old Goa, was built by the Portuguese in 1510. It is one of the oldest churches in Goa.

In 1534 the Diocese of Goa was created from the Diocese of Funchal to serve as a common diocese for the western coast of India, including Goa and the area in and around Bombay.[31] Missionaries of the newly founded Society of Jesus were sent to Goa; the Portuguese colonial government supported the Catholic mission with incentives for baptised Christians. They offered rice donations for the poor, good positions in the Portuguese colonies for the middle class, and military support for local rulers.[30] Many Indians were converted opportunistic Rice Christians who continued to practise their old religion. The Portuguese, in their efforts to keep Christian purity, insisted the converts should avoid anything Hindu. Portuguese rulers insisted the natives should adopt foreign food habits and dress. They also gave European names to the natives. But Konkani Christians wanted to preserve their language, culture and manners. At the same time the Portuguese colonizers in Goa imposed excessive taxes on the native Christians. The taxes were so huge that in 1642 some native Goans sent a memorandum to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.

In 1542 St. Francis Xavier of the Society of Jesus arrived in Goa[29] and noticed the newly converted Christians were practising their old (often pagan) customs and traditions.[32][33]

The Portuguese built various churches; the most notable are Basilica of Bom Jesus (Basílica of Child Jesus) built during the sixteenth century—a UNESCO World Heritage Site dedicated to the Infant Jesus[34]—and the Se Cathedral, the largest church in Asia dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, the construction of which was started in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastião and completed in 1619. It was consecrated in 1640.[35] The Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church (Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição Igreja) was built in 1540. The Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi (Igreja e Convento de São Francisco de Assis), Church of Lady of Rosary (Igreja da Senhora do Rosário), Church of St. Augustine (Igreja de Santo Agostinho), and St. Michael's Church, Anjuna (Igreja São Miguel em Anjuna), built in 1613,[36] were also erected during the Portuguese reign.[37][38]

Modern era

In 1787, inspired by the French Revolution, several Goan Catholic priests, unhappy with the process of promotion within the Church and other discriminatory practices of the Portuguese, organised the Pinto Revolt against the Portuguese. This unsuccessful action was the first open revolt against the Portuguese from within Goa. Britain gained control of Goa twice, the first time in 1797–1798 and the second time from 1802 to 1813. In 1843 the capital was moved to Panjim and by the mid 18th century the area under occupation by the Portuguese expanded to Goa's present-day limits.

In 1900 there were 262,648 Goan Catholics in Goa and 200,144 Hindus.[39]

By 1921 it was estimated that 200,000 out of 670,000 Goans, mostly Christian, resided outside Goa.[40]

On 1 May 1928 the Diocese of Goa was renamed and was promoted to the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Goa and Daman (Goa e Damão). While this status changed in 1976, in 2006 it became the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Goa and Daman once more.

By this time the Portuguese Empire had started declining and further resistance to their occupation in Goa started gaining momentum. When the rest of India gained independence in 1947, Portugal refused to relinquish control of Goa. On 18 December 1961 India moved in with troops and after hostilities that lasted 36 hours the Portuguese administration was forced to surrender. On 30 May 1987 Goa was elevated as India's 25th state.[41]

By 1960 Goan Catholics accounted for 224,617 (36 percent) of the total population in Goa.[14] During the early 20th century, they started migrating to other parts of India, especially to Mumbai[42][43] and Bangalore in the 1920s and 1930s.[44] They also started migrating to Portuguese territories, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[43] Today, Goan Catholics form 30 percent of Goa's total population.[43] During the 1970s coastal communication increased between Bombay and Goa, after introduction of ships by the London-based trade firm Shepherd. These ships facilitated the entry of Goan Catholics to Bombay.[45]

Geographical distribution

Distribution of Goan Catholics in India

According to the 2001 census there were around 359,568 Christians in Goa,[2] and most of them are Roman Catholics following the Latin Rite. Many Goan Catholics live in Mumbai and Bangalore. In the 1960s there were around 100,000 Goan Catholics in Bombay, of which 90,000 were in urban Bombay, and 10,000 in suburban Bombay.[3] Other regions of India which have a small proportion of Goan Catholics are Delhi, Calcutta, Madras, Pune, Ahmednagar, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Nasik, and Ranchi.

Goan Catholics are also found abroad, either as Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin (NRIs) or as official citizens of the new nation, with some people born abroad.[46] They are found in Arab states of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.[47] Some have migrated to the Anglospheric world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1954 there were around 1,000,000 Goan Catholics in India and 1,800,000 Goan Catholics outside Goa. Before the First Gulf War (1990–1991) there were probably around 150,000 Goans outside India.[1] There are 100,000 Goan Catholics in Portugal.[48] A large number are found in Karachi, Pakistan.[49] Recent emigrants are found in Germany and Austria.[50]

In 1999 the Goan Overseas Association, the Canorient Christian Association, and other Goan associations estimated that there were around 23,000 Goan Catholics in Canada, out of which 13,000 were in Ontario.[10] During 1954 it was estimated that there were 20,000 Goan Catholics in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, while 30,000 were living in Pakistan, out of which 10,000 were settled in Karachi.[9] In 1931 it was estimated that there were around 1,772 Goan Catholics in Tanganyika[7] and 700 in Dar es Salaam, both locations in Tanzania.[8] In Uganda during 1931, there were around 1,124 Goan Catholics,[5] out of which 500 were settled in its capital of Kampala.[6] Prior to the 1960s it was estimated that there were around 5,000 Goan Catholics in Nairobi, Kenya.[4] By the 20th century there were around 6,000 Goan Catholics in London,[11] while in 2001, 9,000 were present in Swindon, United Kingdom.[12]


Architecture and cuisine

A traditional Portuguese-influenced villa of a Goan Catholic family

Goan Architecture is heavily influenced by Portuguese styles, a result of being a territory of Portugal for over 450 years. Houses influenced by Indian architecture were inward-looking with small windows and roofed with Mangalore tile. Houses were constructed with walls of wooden planks, mud, laterite brick, or stone.[51] Most of these houses were rebuilt or refurbished from the mid-18th to the 20th century, and replaced by buildings with a mix of neo-Classic and neo-Gothic styles. Contemporary urban and rural housing display a strong Portuguese influence. It shows a variety of laterite brick structures and Mangalore tiled-roofed houses with steeply sloped roofs, design features common to houses in Portugal. Sometimes the walls are made of wooden planks, mud, or brick and stone. Inside the house a spacious hall is present, while outside there is a large porch in front. A plinth that indicates the owner of the house is present in front of the house. Courtyards are present in front of the houses, consisting of a grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a Holy Cross made of hard laterite clay.[52]

Prawn curry

Coconut, coconut oil, and curry leaves are common ingredients in most curries. Sorpotel—meat cooked in a spicy sauce—is one of the most popular dishes of the Goan Catholic community. Other popular pork preparations include Xacuti, Chouriço (pork sausages), Vindaloo, Pork Indad, and Assado de Leitoã (roasted pork).[53] Canja de galinha and Chicken Cafreal are well-known chicken dishes.[54] Patoleo is a dish of saffron leaves stuffed with rice, dal, jaggery, coconut, and cardamon.[55] Fish curry and rice form the staple diet of Goan Catholics.[56] Par-boiled rice, also known as red rice (Ukdem in Konkani), is the traditional rice eaten and preferred over raw rice. Kuswar are sweet delicacies prepared during Christmas and includes around 22 varieties of sweets. Feni, a country liquor made from cashew apples, is a popular alcoholic beverage.[57]

Names and surnames

Bilingual names, having variants in both Konkani and English, like Mingel (Michael) and Magdu (Magdalene) are common among Goan Catholics.[58] Portuguese surnames like D'Souza, Rodrigues, Fernandes and Pinto, are common among Goan Catholics. Goan Catholics use the native language Konkani forms of their surnames in Konkani-language contexts, along with their English forms in English-language contexts, such as Soz, Rudrig, and Pint instead of Sousa, Rodrigues, and Pinto.[59] Some families use their original Konkani Brahmin surnames such as Prabhu, Kamat, Naik, Shet, and Shenoy.[60]

Goan Catholic variant English variant Portuguese variant Meaning Sex
Koinsanv Concepcion Conceição Immaculate Conception Female
Foransik Francisco Francisco French (man) Male
Zuvanv John João God is gracious Male
Bosteanv Sebastian Sebastião Revered Male
Mori Mary Maria Beloved Female
Rakel Rachel Raquel Ewe or one with purity Female
Anton Anthony António Flower Male
Isâbel Elizabeth Isabel / Elisabete My God is my oath Female
Zoze Joseph José The Lord will add Male
Source: English-Konkani Dictionary[58] and A History of Konkani Literature: From 1500 to 1992 (2000)[59]

Language and literature

Cover of Doutrina Christam by Fr. Thomas Stephens, published work in Konkani and other Indian languages

Goan Catholics speak the Konkani language, which is central to the community's identity.[61] Konkani is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages, which is spoken predominantly on the west coast of India.[62] According to linguists this dialect is largely derived from Maharashtri Prakrit and is similar to Bengali in terms of pronunciation.[63] This dialect has a significant infusion of Marathi and Kannada loanwords.[64] The Ethnologue identifies this dialect as the "Goan" dialect.[65] Portuguese influence can be seen in the dialect's lexicon and syntax.[66] 1,800 Portuguese lexical items are found in the Goan Catholic dialect.[67] The syntactic patterns adopted from Portuguese include mostly word order patterns, such as the placement of the direct and the indirect object and of the adverb after the verb, the placement of the predicate noun after the copula, and the placement of the relative or reduced relative clause after the head noun. There are, however, some transformations as well among these patterns.[68] Such syntactic modification is most evident in this particular dialect. It is observed only in the written word and in formal speech such as sermons.[69] In recent times, more and more periodicals have abandoned the Portuguese syntactic patterns.[70] The dialect is significantly different from the dialect spoken by the Hindu Goans not only with respect to Portuguese influence, but also with respect to grammatical and lexical characteristics.[71]

The origin of their literature dates to 1563, when the first Konkani grammar was published by Fr. Andre Vaz at St. Paulo College at Old Goa. In 1567 the first Konkani-Portuguese dictionary was published by missionary priests at Rachol, Goa.[63] In 1622 Thomas Stephens, an English Jesuit, published Doutrina Christam em Lingoa Bramana Canarim (Christian Doctrines in the Canarese Brahmin Language), which was the first book in Konkani and any Indian language.[72] On 22 December 1821 the first periodical, Gazeta de Goa (Goa Gazeteer), edited by Antonio Jose de Lima Leitao, was published. On 22 January 1900 the first Portuguese newspaper, O Heraldo, was started by Prof. Messias Gomes. It was transformed into an English daily in 1987.[73] Periodicals such as Amcho Ganv (1930) by Luis de Menezes, Vauraddeancho Ixxt (1933), a weekly by Fr. Arcencio Fernandes and Fr. Gracianco Moraes,[74] Aitarachem Vachop, a Konkani weekly run by the Salesians,[75] and Gulab by Fr. Freddy J. da Costa were published in Goa.[76] Konkani-Portuguese perodials such as O Concani, a weekly by Sebastiāo Jesus Dias, Sanjechem Noketr (The Evening Star) (1907) by B.F. Cabral, O Goano (1907) by Honarato Furtado and Francis Futardo, and Ave Maria (1919) edited by Antonio D'Cruz were published in Bombay.[74] In February 1899 Udentenchem Sallok (Lotus of the East) by Eduardo J. Bruno de Souza, the first Konkani periodical, was published as a fortnightly in Poona. The first Konkani book in the Devanagri script, Kristanv Doton ani Katisism by Dr. George Octaviano Pires, was published in Sholapore in 1894.[77] Fr. Ludovico Pereria's monthly Dor Mhoineachi Rotti (Monthly Bread) was published in Karachi in 1915.[75][78] In 1911 the first Konkani novel, Kristanv Ghorabo (Christian Home), was published.[79][80] Modern literature is diverse and includes themes such as historical awakening in Lambert Mascarenhas' Sorrowing Lies My Land,[81] feminism in Maria Aurora Couto's Goa: A Daughters' Story,[82] and fantasy in Nandita da Cunha's The Magic of Maya.[83] On 4 June 2006 the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman released the first Konkani Bible in Roman script.[84]

Minority of Goans of Luso-Indian descent speak Daman and Diu Portuguese.

Traditions and festivals

A Goan Catholic Ros

Goan Catholics have retained many Indian customs and traditions.[85] Ros (anointing) ceremony, held one or two days before a wedding, involves the parents, relatives, and friends blessing the bride and groom, who are anointed with ros, a mixture of coconut juice and coconut oil.[86] Later, it is followed by the Resper (Nuptial Blessing in Church) and finally the Kazar (wedding) and Vor (wedding party). The women at a Goan Catholic wedding generally wear gowns or dresses while the men (including the bridegroom) are attired in western-style suits. Contemporary Goan Catholics typically have a White wedding, with the bride wearing a western-style virgin-white wedding gown. The bridal entourage usually consists of the maid of honour, bridesmaids, best man, groomsmen, ringbearer boys, and flower girls. Ballroom dancing and live western-style band music are an integral part of a Goan Catholic wedding reception. Other traditions include Soirik (betrothal),[87] Amontron (wedding invitation), and Mudi (engagement) ceremony.[88] Indian traditions include adorning the bride with the Saddo (red dress or sari), which is to be worn on the first day after the marriage. It is also the name of the ceremony of cutting and sewing the dress.[89] The Chuddo (a ceremony during which bangles are worn by the bride),[90] Bhuim jevonn (a ritual meal in honour of the ancestors) or Bikariam jevonn (a meal for the poor or beggars),[91] the Opsun divnchem (giving away the bride formally by the father or the guardian of the bride), the Appoune or Porthopon' (invitation to the bride's house), and Konsachem fest (harvest festival) that involves blessing of new harvests are other Goan Catholic celebrations.[92] The mass was celebrated in Latin; the Homily was delivered to the congregation in Konkani.[93]

Goan Catholics participating at the Intruz (Goan Carnival), late 20th century

In addition to common Christian festivals like Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter, the community celebrates many other festivals of religious and historical significance. The Zagor (nocturnal vigil in Konkani), mainly celebrated in Siolim, in Bardez taluka, is a festival highlighted by dance, drama and music.[94] The Feast of Saint Francis Xavier, one of the major festivals of the Goan Catholics, is celebrated on 3 December annually to honour the saint's death.[95] Monti or Moti Fest, which commemorates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a major festivals celebrated on 8 September, especially in Chinchinim, Goa.[96] The festival derives its name from the Monte Mariano Church at Farangipet in South Canara, and was initiated by Joachim Miranda, a Goan Catholic missionary priest at Farangipet in 1763. He later introduced the festival in Goa.[97] Milagres Saibin is the feast of Our Lady of Miracles, celebrated at the Mapusa, Goa.[98] The Goa Carnival is another major festival in Goa, highlighted with color, songs and music.[99]

In the event of the death of a Catholic Goan, a traditional funeral is arranged. The funeral includes prayer at the house of the deceased, a band or musical procession (orchestra) leading the mourners in a procession to the Church where the catholic mass is held and the burial in the Catholic cemetery. The family of the deceased person, wear complete black attire for at least a month. After thirty days (one month from the date of the funeral), a month's mind mass (One month death anniversary mass) is held.

Costumes and ornaments

In the past, Goan Catholic women wore a hol, a white sheet over their saris, while going to Church.[100][101]

In the early period of Portuguese rule, Goan Catholic women were married in whites saris (hol) and changed into a red dress or sari, known as saddo, at home.[102] Women of the upper strata wore the Fota-Kimao after the Church ceremony. Fota was a blouse made of red velvet and satin with a black border and embroidered with gold thread.[86] Accessories used along with the fota included a variety of jewellery worn on the head, ears, neck, and arms. The fator was an ornament that consisted of a green stone between two corals held by double chains. Together with the fator, women wore a set of five intricate chains known as contti, and other chains. Women wore bangles known as nille with matching carap on their ears. They also wore few small chains from the ear to the head, combs made of gold (dantoni), silver, or tortoise shell, and rings on every finger.[103] During the later period of Portuguese rule, women got married in Western clothes. The Cordao (wedding necklace) was a necklace of with two black-beaded chains reminiscent to the Hindu Mangalsutra, interspersed with roughly twenty gold coins, which formed a gold pendant, often in the shape of Jesus or the cross.[104] A widow had to wear black clothes for the rest of her life and was not allowed to wear ornaments.[105][106]


A typical white Sant Khuris (Holy Cross) of a Goan Catholic family, constructed using old-style Portuguese architecture

Goan Catholics retained the same caste system which their ancestors had followed. A village in Goa was known as Ganv, its freeholder was the Ganvkar, and Ganvkari included the Ganvkars' village associations and co-operatives. Village communities were known as Ganvponn,[1] which the Portuguese referred to as Comunidades.[107]


The community was divided into five castes: Bamonns, Chardos, Sudirs, Gauddos, Mahars, and Chamars.

The Bamonns (the Konkani word for Brahmins) were originally members of the priestly caste, and had taken up various occupations like agriculture, trade, commerce, and goldsmithy. Several sub-castes, such as the Goud Saraswat Brahmins, the Padyes, the Daivadnyas, the goldsmiths and some merchants, were lumped into the Christian caste of Bamonn.

The Chardos (the Konkani word for Kshatriyas) were converts from the Kshatriya (military/ royal class) caste, and included a few members from the Vaishya caste (merchant class). Those Vaishyas who were not incorporated into the Chardo caste were called Gauddos, and formed the fourth group. The artisan converts formed the third-biggest group and were known as Sudirs (labour class). The Dalits or "Untouchables" who converted to Christianity became Mahars and Chamars, who formed the fifth group. They were later merged to the Sudirs.[108] The Christian converts of the aboriginal stock known as Gavddis were termed Kunbi.[108] Although they still obeserve the caste system, they consider it the unhappiest heritage of their pre-Christian past.[1]


After conversion, the most preferable occupation of Goan Catholic men was that of working on a ship, while others served as officers to the Portuguese, became doctors, architects, lawyers, or businessmen.[109] Agriculture was mainly done by orthodox women, since they were skilled farmers, while orthodox men practised carpentry, constructing Churches and other structures for the Portuguese.[109] In the late seventeenth century, many women had received education and became employed as teachers or factory workers. Other crafts and industries were nonexistent.[109]

Performing arts

A still from Frank Fernand's monochrome Konkani film Amchem Noxib

On 24 April 1950, Mogacho Aunddo (Desire of Love), the first Konkani film by Al Jerry Braganza, was released at Mapusa, Goa.[77] Frank Fernandes, whose stage name was Frank Fernand (1919–2007; born in Curchorem, Goa), was a renowned film maker and musician and is remembered for his movies like Amchem Noxib (Our Luck) in 1963 and Nirmonn (Destiny) in 1966.[110] Other films produced in Goa include Bhunyarantlo Monis (Cave Man) and Padri (Priest).[77] Remo Fernandes, a singer and musician, was the first person to introduce fusion music in India.[111]

The Konkani hymn Asli Mata Dukhest, which was translated into Konkani from the Latin hymn Stabat Mater, is sung during Lent. Jocachim Miranda, a Goan Catholic priest, composed Riglo Jezu Molliant (Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemene) during his Canara mission. Diptivonti, Sulokinni, an eighteenth-century Konkani hymn, was performed at a concert held in the Holy Spirit Church, Margao, Goa.[112][113] Other hymns composed by Goan Catholics include Dona Barrete's Papeanchi Saratinni (Sinners Repent), Carlos Jrindade Dias' Sam Jose Bogta Bagvionta, and Fr. Pascal Baylon Dias' San Francisco Xaveria.[114][115] Konkani pop music became popular after Indian Independence. Chris Perry and Lorna Cordeiro are known for the Bebdo (Drunkard) in 1976[116] and Pisso (Mad) in the 1970s, while Frank Fernand's Konkani ballad Claudia from 1966 is popular.[117]

The Mando, a contemporary form of dance music, evolved in Salcette in the first half of the nineteenth century out of wedding music, specifically the Ovi.[77] The songs in this style are serene and sedate, generally a monologue in the Bramhin Konkani dialects of the South Goan villages of Loutolim, Raia, Curtorim, and Benaulim. They are traditionally sung during the Shim (bridal departure) ceremony.[118] Early composers of the Mando were Ligorio de Costa of Courtarim (1851–1919) and Carlos Trindade Dias.[114] Deknni is a semi-classical dance form. One woman starts the dance and is later accompanied by other dancers. The Mussoll (pestle dance), believed to be first performed by the Kshatriyas of Chandor, commemorates the victory of King Harihara II (son of King Bukka I of the Vijaynagar Empire) over the Chola Empire at Chandrapur fortification in the fourteenth century.[119] Other dances are the Portuguese Corridinho and Marcha.[120][121] Dulpod is dance music with a quick rhythm and themes from everyday Goan life.[122] Fell is a music genre performed by men and women during the Goa Carnival.[122] Other dances performed at the Goan Carnival are Fulwali, Nistekaram, Vauradi, and Kunbi.[123][124] The Ghumot is a musical instrument played, especially during weddings, and is used while performing a Mando.[125] The instrument has the form of an earthen pot that is open at both sides. One end is covered with the skin of some wild animal, and the other is left open.[126]

Konkani Plays, known as Tiatr, a form of classic stage performance with live singing and acting, were written and staged in Goa. The form evolved in the 20th century with pioneer tiatrists such as Jao Agostinho Fernandes (1871–1941).[47][114][127][128] Tiatr's themes include melodramas about family and domestic life, with each lyricist offering his own explanation for life's varied problems. Tiatrists include Prince Jacob[127] and Roseferns, and in the past M. Boyer, C. Alvares, and Alfred Rose. On 17 April 1982 the first tiatr Italian Bhurgo by Lucasinho Ribeiro was staged in Mumbai.[77] In 2007, the Government of Goa started the Tiatr Academy to facilitate the development of the Tiart.[129] The tradition Of Voviyo, ancient folk songs that were sung by women during a Ros, began prior to 1510 A.D. The tradition had to be discarded due to Portuguese prosecution, and the songs now live in the form of archives.[130] The few which still prevail are recited to this day at weddings, expressing lofty sentiments that give vent to the feelings of the people about the marriage partners and their families and invoke the blessing of God on them like machlies.

Adeus Korchu Vellu Paulu
("The Farewell Hour is here")
Adeus korchu vellu paulo.
The time of farewell is now here

Ai mhojem kalliz rê fapsota.
Oh! my heart begins to fear (Repeat previous two lines)

Dispediru korchea vellar,
At this moment of saying farewell,

Ho sonvsar naka-so disota.
In this world I no longer wish to dwell. (Repeat previous two lines)

Torquato de Figuerio (1876–1948), Mando taken from the book Greatest Konkani Song Hits Vol. 1, arranged by Francis Rodrigues, p. 24

Goan Catholics have also played an important role in Bollywood music. (See Goans in Hindi film music composition)


Goenkaranchi Ekvot is a registered organisation of Goan Catholics residing in Delhi.[131] In Bangalore, associations such as the Karnataka Goan Association serve the community.[132] The Kuwait Konknni Kendr is a well-known Goan Catholic organisation in Kuwait.[133] The Goan Overseas Association in Toronto,[134] Indian Catholic Association of Central Texas, the Indo-Pakistani Christian Association,[135] and the Canorient Christian Association are popular organisations in North America.[136] In the United Kingdom, Goan Voice UK,[137] the Young London Goan Society (YLGS),[138] Goan Community Association, and Siolim Association, based in London, are popular organisations.[139] In the Middle East, the Goan Community of Oman is well known.[140]

Goan Catholics have been a part of many Bollywood (Hindi cinema) films owing to their musical skills.[141] They are seen in many films playing Goan Catholic families and speak Hindi with a Goan accent.[142]

Goan Catholics Notes
Adeodato Barreto Indo-Portuguese poet and writer[152]
Abade Faria 19th century priest[153]
Alfred D'Cruz Journalist, author, historian. First Indian Sub-Editor of The Times of India, Mumbai in 1947. Co-author of Saligao: Focus on a Picturesque Goan village
Alfred Rose Singer, Tiatrist
Bruno Coutinho Indian Arjuna Award winning footballer[154][155]
Charles Correa Architect[156]
Claude Moraes Member of the European Parliament for the Labour representing London elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2004 and 2009[157]
Dinesh D'Souza American writer and public speaker[158]
Dom Moraes Indian poet, writer and columnist[159][160]
Eduardo Faleiro Former member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament[161]
Evarist Pinto Archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan[162]
Francisco Luís Gomes Indo-Portuguese physician, politician, writer, historian, and economist[163]
Ivan Dias Archbishop of Bombay from 8 November 1996 – 20 May 2006, Prefect of Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Rome[164]
Keith Vaz British Labour Party politician, Member of Parliament for Leicester East[165]
Luís de Menezes Bragança Journalist, writer and anti-colonial activist
Oswald Gracias Cardinal, Archbishop of Mumbai[166]
Pio Gama Pinto Kenyan independence-era journalist and politician. He was assassinated on 25 February 1965[167]
Leander Paes International tennis player[168][169]
Lorna Cordeiro Goan Konkani language singer and tiatrist[170]
Nicole Faria First woman from India to win Miss Earth[171]
Remo Fernandes Indian singer and musician[172]
José Gerson da Cunha Indo-Portuguese physician, orientalist, historian and numismatist[173]
Froilano de Mello Indo-Portuguese microbiologist, medical scientist, professor, author and independent MP in the Portuguese parliament[174]
Wallis Mathias Pakistani ex-cricketer[175]
Anthony Mascarenhas Exposed war crimes in East Pakistan that altered international opinion. Won international journalism awards[176]
Jerry Pinto Writer
Patricia Rozario Mumbai-born British Soprano OBE[177]
Joseph Vaz Catholic missionary, "Apostle of Sri Lanka", ministered to Sri Lankan Catholics persecuted by Dutch colonial regime

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