Goa and Goans :
Goa's isolation from
the rest of India for more than four centuries under the Portuguese
rule, its geographical borders in the form of the Sahyadri ranges and
the tidal rivers have managed to give the people of Goa a unique and
The people of Goa
prefer to call themselves Goans and not Goanese as mentioned in
guidebooks and brochures. Goans are very much aware of this unique
identity; they are proud of it and guard it fiercely.
population of Goa is composed of a Hindu majority of around 65% and a
Christian minority of around 30%. Muslims and other religions make up
the rest. The interesting part in all these percentages is that, as is
the case with most statistical figures, they conceal more than they can
The Hindu community is
dominant in the talukas (districts) of Ponda, Bicholim, Pernem, Satari,
Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona. These areas actually form part of the
Novas Conquistas, or the New Conquests, made by the Portuguese in
the last stage of the expansion of their Goan empire in the eighteenth
By this time, the
Portuguese military might was on the wane and the religious ardour for
forced conversions was at its lowest ebb. Hence the population in these
newly conquered areas were pretty much left to practise their religion
The Old Conquests on
the other hand, consisting of Salcete, Mormugao, Tiswadi and Bardez bore
the brunt of the Portuguese army and the religious zealots. Together,
the two arms of the Portuguese empire, managed to destroy temples and
converted hundreds of non-Christians in these areas, which are
predominantly Christian today.
bitter memories of the past have done nothing to change the warm,
friendly and loving nature of the Goan people. By and large, the Goan
considers himself a Goan first and a Hindu, Christian or Muslim
afterwards. The bonds of language and the Goan identity are strong
enough to allow for different religious persuasions.
In contrast to other
parts of India, Goans have developed a remarkable degree of tolerance
towards each other's religious beliefs, and hence religious
fundamentalism is completely unknown in the state.
best evidence of this is seen in quite a few places of worship in Goa,
where both Hindus and Christians go together. The Damodar temple at
Sanguem, the Church of Our Lady of Miracles in Mapusa, the Shantadurga
temple at Fatorpa are excellent examples of this unique religious
harmony that exists in Goa. Besides these, a number of other festivals
in Goa are celebrated by members of both communities with equal fervour.
In proportion to their
numbers, a very high percentage of Goans live abroad than the members of
most other regional communities of India. But no matter where they might
be on the surface of the planet, Goans love to express the adoration of
their homeland in some form or the other.
Goa is a state of
mind. And to most Goans, this is best expressed in the lines of the
Konkani poem penned by the eminent Goan poet B. B. (Bakibab) Borkar:
"If I am
to be born again and allowed to choose my birthplace...
I shall choose Goa... because its scenic beauty
has a supernatural quality of refining the human mind
and turning it inward into the depths of creativity and spirituality."