Goa Culture & History

Goa Culture - Goa History

Goa, a former Portuguese territory, for more than 450 years is often described as 'The Rome of the East'. It has over the past decades, become the dream holiday destination, for many a foreign tourist. More than 40 years after the departure of the Portuguese, Goa is perhaps the most westernized of all the states in Modern India. The majority of Goans are very bohemian. Easy going in nature, enjoying a typical 'tropical lifestyle'; including the 'siesta', which is usually from 1pm to 4pm, the hottest part of the day. Music, dance, drama, food and feni, are a few of the things most Goans are passionate about.

Goa Religion
Religion is very important to the Goans. Whether it is Catholic, Hindu or Muslim. Churches, Temples and Mosques abound wherever you journey in Goa. Some of the churches are placed in spectacular, and very difficult locations. Though, Goa is a multi-ethnic state, Goans are very tolerant towards each other's faiths; while unfortunately this is not true of the rest of this country.

The majority Hindu community and the sizeable Catholic minority have lived in peace and harmony for decades and centuries. They participate in each other's many feasts. Many Hindus attend the novenas during the feast of St. Francis Xavier (the patron saint of Goa), as the Catholics take part in the zagors and zatras. It is not rare to see young Catholics at local Hindu temples during the feast of Dusshera. They consider it auspicious to have their vehicles blessed by the temple priest on that day.

A few days before lent, many colorful carnivals are held, in all the major towns in Goa. Then, a few days later comes the Shigmo (Hindu festival of spring) distinctive parades go along the very same streets, with many kaleidoscopic floats and frenzied dancers. On these occasions both communities participate.

The People
One of the things that make Goa unique, are the laws, a legacy that the Portuguese have left behind. The common civil code, confers equal status to all religions, it favors no particular religion. The law also accords equal legal status to both sexes, in all matters. Perhaps, this is why the local women and girls of Goa are not so shy and reclusive, in stark contrast to the rest of India. Most Goan ladies dress in western fashion dresses and skirts, rather than the more tradition (in India) Saree and Churidar. Of course being used to tourists from around the globe, and the European influence of the Portuguese are the main reasons for this. As part of the Indian subcontinent where conservatism is traditional, the Goans are flamboyant and out going. The women are attractive and in step with the latest trends of the west. The young men bear themselves with a distinct air of machismo; they love football, bullfighting and automobiles, they are quick to smile - or fight. Goa, itself is often stunningly beautiful. The roadsides are bright with cascades of bougainvillea; the forests are alive with iridescent butterflies, and kingfishers so brilliant that they seem to glow from within. Just after the monsoons, in the flooded paddy fields, a horde of workers can be seen preparing for the new crop. Yes, Goa is a beautiful land, with wonderfully hospitable people.

Goans love music.It is an integral part of their lives. Music in Goa covers a broad spectrum, from Portuguese music to Techno to Rave and the now the (in)famous Goa Trance. The local radio station AIR (All India Radio) mostly plays music in Konkani, Hindi and English. Though occasionally, we still get to hear some Portuguese music. The DJ's are awful to say the least, talking far too long between each piece of music. They read out endless lists of requests, which, by their continuous stumbling, is clearly unrehearsed.

Singers and Tiatr (Goan Theatre)
Some of the singers and dramatists, who have become household names, include Prince Jacob, Alfred Rose, Tony King, Kid Boxer, Souza Boy, M.Boyer, Emiliano D'cruz, Rosario Rodrigues and J. B. Rod.

A lot of the music churned out today (2 to 3 releases per month) is from 'Tiatre' (Konkani theatre), which are mainly melodramas about family and domestic life. Each lyricist will offer his own explanation for life's varied problems, often coloured by individual prejudices. Although there are quite a few 'Tiartist' who produce plays with political satire. Notable, is William de Curtorim.

Love became a theme, mainly in the songs of the Jazz artistes, and the classy composer Chris Perry. His ballads, immortalized by singer Lorna, remain all time favorites. Lorna has now returned to Konkani music after a gap of almost 28 Years. Bombay-based, Alfred Rose, is believed to be among the first to actually cut cassettes, and records of his music, with printed lyrics to accompany them.

The Goan economy is highly dependent on tourism, which brings in the much-needed foreign currency. This has caused the mushrooming of hotels, resorts and other tourist related businesses, all along the northern coastal area. The exports of iron and manganese ores are also big earners for Goa. If tourism is the bread and butter then mining is the jam. In Goa unlike the rest of India the mining industry is privately owned and not controlled by the government. Sadly enough, Goa is also an exporter of manpower. Most of those leaving its shores are highly skilled in their respective fields. As a matter of fact, Goa is more becoming like a "Retiree's Place". The Working local Goan population is getting to be mostly middle aged, as most young people are either working in the Arabian Gulf region, or migrated to USA, Australia or New Zealand. So this is Goa, amche Goem - its culture and people.

History of Goa
In the last Pleistocene Age about 10,000 B.C., the bottom of the Arabian Sea rose up by the tectonec movement and formed the level mass available on the Western Coast known as the Malabar Coast. Goa forms a part of that land mass. This movement broke the huge late rite caps of the rocks and threw them into the sea where we today find evidence of the same. Evidence of this is also found in the discovery of the conch shell in Surla village, fossilized marine conches discovered near Surla and basalitic pillars discovered near Riva village. We also have evidence of coral reefs at Malvan and near Mormugoa harbour. The dating of the coral reefs at Netiana islands also establishes the same findings.

The land so exposed continued to be washed by the rains till about 9000 B.C., there was a change of climate. The atmosphere became arid leading to cyclones. The vegetation was de­stroyed and the trees uprooted. Some pieces of the trees got fossilized and today we discover such pieces. Around 8500 B.C., the Monsoons started wash­ing the land. This gradually changed the original hydrographic system into the present age of Fauna and Flora. The land thus became suitable for habitation.

The Historians believe that during this period, the settlers in South India were Australoids, with the Negrito being a part of the same race, but sepa­rated. Over a period of tinae, the two led to different tribal groups. The find­ings in Goa can lead one to surmise that Early Man settled in this Area not earlier than 10,000 B.C. Then he was perhaps roving and only around 8500 B.C. did he have permanent set­tlements. Iron implements have been found dated about 3000 B.C. The rov­ing hands gave way about 6000 B.C. to more permanent pastoral tribes from South India. They domesticated ani­mals and had knowledge of farming of plants and cereals. These were wor­shippers of stone symbols of the fe­male and male elements.

It seems that later on about 5500 years ago, a tribe known as Asura appeared on the scene from the area around Chota Nagpur. They used crude iron implements and did agriculture with the cut and burn meth­ods. Cereals were produced by them. Another 500 years later the Kol, Mundari and Khariwa tribesmen coming from the same area as the Asura forced their way in the Area. The Kols occu­pied the land," prepared paddy fields and set up a sort of collective village’s administration. They had knowledge of rotation of land for cultivation. The Mundaris worked, perhaps, as work­ers while the Kharwas took to fishing and boating. It can be safely presumed that the tribal customs of these three tribes were the same.

The Silaharas ruled in Goa from 750 to 1020 A.D. We have two copper plates from Kharepatna which tell us that Shanaphulla, the founder of the Goa Dynasty of Shilahara of South Konkana obtained the lordship of Sinhala (Simhalesha) from Krishna I of the Rastrakuta Dynasty. Krishna I suc­ceeded Dantedurga in A.D. 759. He ruled from 76595. Aiyapa, the Shi­lahara King, invaded Chandrapura and celebrated his victory over that king­dom by bathing in coconut water. He ruled from 82045 A.D. Avasara II (892920 A.D.), son of Adityavarman, suc­ceeded him. He also helped the rul­ers of Chandrapura and Chamulya, The Chikodec Plate of Avasara III states that Bhima (94570 A.D.) an­nexed Chandramandala. Rattaraja (9951020 A.D.) acknowledges suze­rainty of Tailapa, the Chalukya King in A.D 980. He also refers to Satyashraya, the son of Tailapa. An­other grant of Rattaraja is dated 24th December A.D. 1010. The Shilahara Rule in Goa seems to have ended within about 15 years of this grant. Jayasimha II, brother of Chalukya Vikramaditya V invaded Goa and took over the Area, ending the Konkan Silahara rule. The Kolapur Shilaharas who seem to have been made over­lords of Goa by the Chalukyas and the Thana Silaharas as per the Kharapata plate of Anantadeva of the Thana Shilaharas, were always fighting for the suprmacy of the entire Konkan area. This lead to Shashthadeva II of the Kadambas to takeover Southern Konkan.

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