Well if one believes in the fact that native Catholics
in Goa are converts of Hinduism, it is obvious that
they have carried alongwith them the indelible social
caste structure postulated by MANU and codified in the
Manu Smriti as practiced by Hindus .
It is unfortunate that the Catholic Church in India
preaches a casteless society --- well it may be their
ultimate objective to achieve such a casteless society
--- but the duality in what is preached and professed
is where lies the hypocritical attitude of the
Catholic Church in India.
To elucidate take the case of the Confrarias the
colour of the vests viz; red, white or purple worn OR
feasts celebrated viz; Our Lady of Immaculate
Conception or Feast of the Holy Spirit by the upper
castes and then you have the St Michaels Feast of the
lower castes or the Feast of St Francis Xavier
celebrated by the traditional tailors. Is this not
according to ones caste?
There are other instances as well. There was a
rebellion in the early sixties to change all this.
Today the Salves and vespers of the Feast of Infant
Jesus in Colva is celebrated by a confraria having
persons of different castes unlike the past.
Earlier the Priests were appointed only from the
Brahmin class then just pre-Liheration the Chardos
found an opportunity and post Liberation the Sudirs.
Ofcourse in matters of transfers from one parish to
another or in matters of appointing the Parish priest
or assistant Parish priest there is still a caste
based discrimination prevalent.
Then take the place of burial and the places reserved
for storing the remains of the deceased . Of course
today the paucity of place restricts such
pre-determined places but nevertheless the distinction
One could go on an on and readers could contribute to
this article to speak out their views.
Take the various lay groups in the Churches we have
the St Vincent de Paul, Couples of Christ, etc etc
there is a well defined vertical heirarchial structure
in these organisations which clearly show the caste
distinctions. Yet the Catholics will pretend to ignore
the ground realities. If asked why does one not join a
particular Group they will give ever so many reasons
but never admit that they find themselves
uncomfortable in the midst of caste members different
from them selves.
Take the various clubs of yester years in Mumbai are
they not caste dominated as far as membership and
organisation structure is concerned.
Even with the social clubs abroad and in India while
one socialises and indulges in merriment superficially
-- caste composition is discussed discreetly . Infact
a statement like "" Oh we do not believe in caste or I
just dont know what all this caste thing is all about
is too hypocritical a comment to be taken for granted.
Even in marriages there is definitely the caste factor
-- have we forgotten the codes banana chickoo and
salt fish or Britisher to denote brahmin chardo and
sudir or Gawda?
This writer has often been advocating to the Catholics
that they need to accept ones caste origins --- there
is nothing to be afraid of --- its origins and social
engineering that is witnessed today in India is
accepted openly by the Hindu community -- there are
associations viz; Saraswat Brahmin Samaj , Kshatriya
Maratha Samaj, Van Vasi (Sceduled tribes) Samaj and so
on and on --- they even ensure that they look after
the interests of their own community After all what is
POLITICS all about in India is it not a permutation
and combination of certain castes depending upon their
percentages that finally craves to grab the treasury
benches. Then why do the Catholics in India pretend
that they are a casteless Society. Even the
appointment of late Valerian Gracias a son of a
traditonal salt pan worker from Telaulim in Navelim
Salcete as Cardinal created a storm in the uppercaste
ridden bastion of the Catholic Church in Goa.
Infact while the Catholic community and the non
Brahmin Hindus ridicule the SC STs for grabbing out of
turn promotions etc --- they fail to seek answers how
the Brahmins which account for a meagre 3% of the
total population in India --hold all the top posts in
the Government? Is this not social engineering?
Take the case of Goa visit the government departments
and see how the caste engineering is put into place
while all other denominations are given placement or
hold "positions of power --- designated or unwritten"
according to their percentages of the overall
population the Brahmins grab the lions share being a
The non Brahmin Hindus and the Catholics (who believe
& preach a casteless society ) should realise that
they have been BRAIN WASHED by the Brahmins to believe
a) that they (Brahmins) are AN INCARNATION of GOD on
b) that they (Brahmins) are indeed superior to non
c) that all ills plaguing the earth are owing to sins
of the non Brahmins ------
It is with this MINDSET that the non Brahmin Hindus
and so called casteless Christians are fed with
beliefs of carrying out rituals ---- like not looking
at an eclipse or pregnant women hurdling in bed on
giran ocassions. That an "anzod" childless woman is a
curse or the propiating before idols deities offerings
of fowl, goat etc; is necessary to satiate gods.
Some years ago "Lord Ganesh drinking milk" was a
electronic media farce that captured the imagination
of Indians world wide and made us a subject of
ridicule in the eyes of others.
In conclusion let us all carry our castes on our
sleeves with pride and rise up to show the world that
MERIT DOES NOT DEPEND ON ONE's BIRTH but on ONES
This writer has been looking forward to the day when
the lay groups in the Catholic Church in India will be
able to encourage Catholics to form a
GOAN CATHOLIC BRAHMIN SOCIETY
GOAN CATHOLIC CHARDO (Kshatriya) SOCIETY
GOAN CATHOLIC SUDIR (Shudra) SOCIETY
GOAN CATHOLIC KULMI SOCIETY
GOAN CATHOLIC GAWDA SOCIETY
GOAN CATHOLIC DALIT SOCIETY
The day this is done the Catholic community will NO
LONGER REMAIN a " prisoner of ones conscience " which
unfortunately is the result of Catholic Church
preachings and practices in India totally devoid of
understanding the ground reality that Catholics indeed
do carry the social vertical caste structure inherited
not through any fault of ours but owing to historical
realities of being a Hindu convert.
In fact it is this pessimism that is ruining the
Catholic community and the stress of survival is
witnessed by the fact that fundamental forces within
the Church are screaming out loud and clear that JESUS
IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD---- when the true
Catholic teaching should have been RESPECT ALL
RELIGIONS -- FOR ALL RELIGIONS LEAD US TO ONLYT ONE
GODFREY J I GONSALVES
Borda Margao Goa
gonsalvesgodfreyji at yahoo.co.in
MAY BE WIDELY CIRCULATED TO GENERATE A DEBATE
Post by Goan Voices
CASTE STRUCTURE IN GOA
In Goa, the Bamonn or the Brahmins belonged to the
originally priestly class taking upon other
occupations like agriculture, trade and commerce
(merchants), gold smithy etc.
The Chaddho or the Kshatriyas were the noblemen,
warriors and related soldiery taking up commercial
avocations also. The Vaishya-Vanis were engaged in
trade and among them were the 'shetts' or goldsmiths
pursuing the craft of gold and gold ornaments.
The Sudir or the Sudras were the workers and
agricultural labourers engaged in the servicing
The Gavddi or Kunnbi were the landless labourers,
earlier dislodged by the above high castes and
in their own wards in the village. There were the
Gauddo or Gaudde, probably the Vaishya counterparts
Goa of the neighbouring Karnataka's Gowda, as there
'Gaud' found in the Canacona taluka of Goa on
The caste structure in Goa was somewhat like
pre-eminence in the social hierarchy based on the
nobility of blood, very much resembling the idea of
family nobility in the rest of India.
All the castes or rather sub-castes or jatis like
Saraswats, Karades, Chitpavans, Padhyes etc. among
various segments of the population of Goa,
particularly the goldsmiths and some merchants
probably, as seen from the surnames of members of
communes purportedly all- Brahmin, were lumped into
the Christian caste of Bamonn or Brahmin. The
groups among the Kshatriyas or locally known as
Chaddho were mainly the noble and warrior class.
of them engaged in the trading profession, known as
Chatim, which was an occupational appellation common
to Brahmins also. The caste appellation of Chaddho
gradually fell into disuse.
Later among the Hindus of this caste in Goa who did
not embrace Christianity began preferring the
appellation of Maratha. The Marathas and Vanis were
incorporated into the Christian caste of Chaddho .
Those of the Vaishya-Vani caste men who could not
themselves merged as Christian Bamonn or Chaddho,
appear as Gauddo in place in Bardez Taluka of Goa,
among Christians and those among the Hindu remnants
this caste in the present Canacona taluka etc.
caste among Christians is treated as one of the
It is believed that large number of Vaishya-Vanis
emigrated to the adjoining district of Sindhudurg in
Maharashtra. Their descendants trace their origin to
Goa and the flight of their ancestors at the time of
the conversion fever. The Christian counterpart of
Hindu Vani is the Gauddo Christian caste.
The goldsmiths call themselves 'Daivednya Brahmins'
and are known in Goa as 'Shetti'. they were put into
the Christian caste of Sudir or Sudras, which is a
lower caste. They did not get into the caste deemed
superior because they were known as 'Panchal' or the
artisan group of castes.
The aboriginal stock in Goa is known as the
is a higher caste. The Christian convert of the
aboriginal was termed as Kunbi. The Kunbis are found
in large number in the Salcete taluka than in any
other taluka of Goa.
At the time of the conversions carried out by the
Portuguese missionaries, there were untouchables
the 'Mahara' and Chambars, who were converted to
Christianity. They are found in Chandor village.
Chambars have later merged with the Sudras among
Christians. Bamonn and Chaddho are the two advanced
castes among the Hindus in Goa. They continued to
attach their caste to the Christian names and
even after conversion.
The first mass baptisms or conversions to
were effected in the two prominent villages in the
vicinity of the then city of Goa, Divar Island and
Carambolim villages, the first of the Bamonn and the
second of the Chaddho. The majority of the total
number of village communes converted to Christianity
belonged to the two high castes. The priests in the
Goan community should be recruited from the Bamonn
At some places the Christian name, is mentioned
with the old Hindu name while at others the
name is mentioned with the person's father name in
Hindu original or in case of the father being a
The surnames of Poi, Kamat or Vamotim, Desai Kudav,
Naik, Prabhu or Porbu etc. are common to both the
castes of Bamonn and Chaddho. Christian Bahmonns and
Chaddhos are the two leading rival classes among the
The continued maintenance of the caste system among
the Christians in Goa is attributed to the mass
conversions of entire villages, as a result of which
the religious complexion of the whole village was
given a new coat of Christianity without affecting
age-old social structure which was rooted in caste
foundations. The old usages and customs and age-old
traditions, including superstitions of a varied
especially the caste-system were transferred. The
Portuguese, fearing the relapses of their coverts to
Hinduism, destroyed all available material
of the old religion including literary works which
stated by historians to have been in Konkani, mainly
religious or socio-religious in nature.
- Forwarded by www.goa-world.com
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