The Waves of Settlements that Consutited Goa, Goans and Goanness

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The first settlers of Goa are said to be Mahars who were called ‘marang horo’ meaning that of ‘ the big house’. In Konkani we still say, ‘ to apnnak mhar vhoddlo mhunn somzota (He thinks no end of himself). When did the appellation Mahar become pejorative? Mahar acquired negative status of an out-caste. In Goa, ‘ mahar’ had an ambiguous position. A mahar couple in Pernem was served as part of devkarem meal ( religious ceremony) among the Brahmins. In several other temples, Mahar is given respectable roles in the rituals.

The second setters are said to be Kols, another protoaustraloid tribe. Some say the names of places like Kolmorodd or koldem remind us of the Kols. They came down from the Chota Nagpur plateau of Bihar. Third to arrive were the Mundas. They are said to have arrived travelling through Orissa and the Deccan plateau. The Mundas had the practice of gathering into the assembly of four representatives which they called chari jono, literally four men. Maybe we derived the char choug zann ( four man) in konkani from their expression, chari jono.

The Dravidians are said to have followed the Mundas having been displaced from the Indus Valley. They are said to have miscegenated with the local tribal population. Their religious practices like the worship of kellbai, (worship of tree), linga(phallus), naga (cobra), and peepal (tree) can be seen among the Goan people even today.

We have the Scythian and Sumerain traces in our culture suggesting that people from Mesopotamia may have also settled in or came in contact with Goa. It is reported that subsequently the Indo-Aryans comprising of Kshatriyas and the Brahmins, along with Vaishya-Vanni and Sudra being disloged from their abode on the banks of the river Sarasvati due to its drying up arrived in Goa.

Olivino Gomes tells us that it can be observed that the best of the land was grabbed and shared by the Brahmins and the Kshatriya. Thus, he points out that it is said that the island of Jua was taken up for settlement by the Kshatriya while the Bhramins settled in the islands of Divar and Chorao.villages of Pomburpa, Nachinola, Moira, in Bardez belong to the Brahmins while Nodora, Oxel, Sirsai and Corlim-Mapusa belong to the Kshatriya. So also we can notice Chandor and Cavorim became home of the Kshatriya and the Brahmins took up Guirdollim, Macasana and Curtorim became the home of Brahmins. Villages of Carambolim, Battim, Curca and Lesser Neura are settlements of the Kshatriyas and the Brahmins settled in Mandur, greater Neura and Gacim. Both Brahmins and Kshatriyas shared power in Revora, Camorlim, Colvale, Cunchelim, Colvale, Pirna, and Sangolda while in other villages they are said to have shared power with the Sudras and the Gauddas.

We can certainly trace caste geographies all over Goa. Besides these waves of settlers, Goa came under several rulers including the colonizers. All these rulers have put their stamp on our Goan people and their culture. Several traders as well as travellers also left their indelible mark on Goa. Goa, Goans and Goanness has evolved out of the cauldron of all these factors and more.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao