Saturday, July 14, 2012



By: Walter Menezes

After a successful National Seminar on Scripts and Languages of Modern India, with Special Reference to Konknni and three Regional Conferences in three different states of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra since inception a year ago in August 2011, Jagotik Konknni Songhotton (JKS) organized its fourth ‘Pradeshik Sammell’ in Kerala on July 8, 2012 at Maharaja College’s Centenary Hall, Ernakulam.

An umbrella organization with a membership of 126 associations from 13 countries, the objective of JKS – presently headed by Tomazinho Cardozo – is to represent Konknni people and address issues globally to enrich and preserve Konknni in all serene beauty and variety and to ensure the transmission of the Konknni heritage and culture to future generations. The Kerala Conference not only discussed the situation and future of Konknni in Kerala and at the national and international level, but also focused on the ‘Konknni Identity among Konknni Tribals’ with references being made to the large Kudumbi presence in Kerala.

We – Jose Salvador Fernandes, the Secretary of Dalgado Konknni Akademi (DKA) who presented a paper at the conference and this writer – boarded the Mangala Lakshadweep Express on Friday night at Margao Station and 14 hours and 40 minutes later, we were warmly received by K Viswanathan, the Programme & Media Convenor of the Kerala Conference at the Ernakulam Junction. Later, over biryani at the Indian Coffee House close to St. Teresa’s Convent, Viswanathan gave an overview of the Konknni situation in Kerala and disclosed that of the ten lakh Konknni population, the Kudumbis were a strong seven lakh in number and that an entire street just ahead of the Press Club Road was totally dominated by the Konknni business community.

The ‘Kerala Pradeshik Sammell’, which was attended by nearly a hundred enthusiastic Konknni lovers, including writers and women, was inaugurated by Shri V. S. Achuthanandan, Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister of Kerala. Although late by more than an hour, his star-status was immediately evident from the manner in which he was treated by members of the press, both from the print and the electronic media, who had waited patiently at the entrance of the Centenary Hall. Although Shri Achuthanandan spoke in Malayalam and left quickly after lighting the traditional lamp, from reports appearing in the Kochi edition of The New Indian Express the following day, the former Chief Minister expressed his displeasure at the way the present UDF dispensation was ‘trying to sabotage the order to make Malayalam the first language in colleges.’ He also said that ‘language is the crux of human culture and any invasion over the linguistic rights is a crime.’

Shri Eric Ozario, the Secretary General of JKS, while echoing the words of Dr. Anvita Abbi, (Professor of Linguistics, JNU who had attended the National Seminar on Scripts and Languages of Modern India) that “script variety is an asset of a language” reminded the audience that Konknni was written in five scripts – Nagri, Romi, Kannad, Malayalam and Perso-Arabic – and appealed to everyone to make a determined effort to speak Konknni in our day-to-day life. ‘Bhas uloilear matr ti bhas jivont urta (it is only when a language is spoken that it stays alive)’, Ozario added. Later, during the concluding ceremony, he placed a three-pronged strategy to revive the Konknni movement in Kerala before the local organizers: a) creating zagrutay (awareness) to preserve Konknni b) to establish a Konknni Akademi with proper representation of all stake-holders and c) to step up efforts to introduce Konknni subject in schools, especially in the light of Kerala Govt’s willingness to do so.

Earlier, Shri K. K. Utharan, a retired Principal District & Sessions Judge and the Vice-President of JKS and Chairman of the Kerala Pradesh Conference welcomed and later presented his paper on the ‘Situation & Future of Konknni Language in Kerala’. Speaking in a Konknni language spiced with Malayalam words and referring to the 2001 Census which pegged the population of Konknni community in Kerala at less than a lakh, Shri Utharan lamented that ignorance on the part of the large Kudumbi population regarding their mother tongue was responsible for the dismal numbers in the census survey.

Shri Jose Salvador Fernandes who presented his paper on ‘Situation & Future of Konknni Language at National & International Level’ informed that Konknni was one of the unsafe languages of the world as per UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger survey and impressed upon the writers of the need to publish books and magazines in the Malayalam script.

Shri Gopala Gowda of St. Aloysius College, Mangalore and a Kudmi leader, spoke at length on the ‘Konknni Identity among Konknni Tribals’ with special emphasis on the rich traditions of the Kudmi community of Kodiyal (Karnataka), including the revival of the use of ‘ghumott’. ‘The Gowdas and the gumott are inseparable’, he informed.

Shri M. K. Sasi of Konknni Cultural & Research Centre, Shri P. R. Money, retired Dy. Director of Fisheries Dept, Shri K. K. Subramanian Master, poet and President of Konknni Sahitya Samajam, Shri A. G. Gopalakrishnan, novelist, Shri K. D. Sen, president of Bhatarhiya Konknni Vikas Sabha, Shri Sivananda Shenoy, poet and Shri L. Sumbramanian were among those who attended the conference and took part in the deliberations.

As the conference was progressing, this writer came across two books which had chapters shedding light on the migration of the Kunbis to Kerala. In Dr. Balagopal T. S. Prabhu’s book, A Konkani Saga – The Concise Cultural History of Konkani Speaking People of Kerala, we find the following: The Konkani speaking communities, other than Gowda Saraswat Brahmins, distributed in settlements along the coastal stretches of Kerala, are those of Kudumbis, Sonars, Vaniyas and Devadasis. Among these the major group who has played a key role in the destiny of the Saraswaths, is that of Kudumbis. They are also called as Mooppans, Kunbis, Konkana Sudras etc. It is generally believed that they also migrated from Goa along with the Saraswat Brahmins and settled in close proximity of the Saraswat settlements. It is further believed that the Kudumbis provided the manual work of the ships in which the Saraswat group sailed from Goa in search of new land. Such theories are built on the fact that the Kudumbi settlements are also located in the proximity of Saraswat settlement. Further, Kudumbi servants were generally seen working in Saraswat households. (p. 55)

Elsewhere in the same chapter, Dr. Balagopal writes, The Kudumbis speak Konkani with a characteristic tone similar to what is still heard in the remote villages of Goa. Their language has not much mix up of either Sanskrit or local Malayalam. The isolated community living has helped to keep the language pure. But this isolation has done much harm to their social development. While the Saraswat Brahmins have progressed economically through trade and socially through education, Kudumbis have remained economically and socially backward. Only during the last few decades sections of this community have come up in education through their own hard striving. It is time that the Saraswat Brahmins recognize the contribution made by the Kudumbis and share with them the benefits of the socio-economic progress. The Konkani language should become a strong bond between these communities who have shared a common destiny together for many centuries. (p.59)

Another book, The Kurmis-Kunbis of India by Margao-based Pratapsinh Velip Kansar speaks of the kind hearted King of Cochin: In the first exodus, twelve thousand Konkani families from Goa came to Kochi. The King of Cochin state Shri Kesava Ramvarma (1565-1601 AD) assigned Cherai village to the Konkani speaking people free of cost. It was also a voluntary donation free from any payment of tax. Among the Konkanis, there were Brahmans, Vaisyas and Kudumbis (p.110)

On page 118-119, we find this quote about Kudumbis from the Census Report of India, 1961 – Vol VII Kerala, p. 210: As to the fact that they were originally inhabitants of the area north of Goa, there can be no doubt for the language, the ornament and the mode of dress show striking similarities with the present inhabitants of that area, proclaiming a common origin. They are believed to have traveled by country crafts and landed at the sea port towns of Kerala which accounts for their concentration in places like Cranganore, Cochin, Parur, Kayamkulam, Alleppey, Purakkad and Quilon.

The Kudumbis of Kerala believe that their ancestors came from five different places of Goa: Nag Bhumi, Gardi Bhumi, Goa Nagri, Goa Dongri and Nara Bhumi. According to Kansar, these places could well be Nagve, Dogri near Old Goa and Narve while Goa Nagri and Gardi Bhumi could be places of Bardez-Pernem talukas where some Bhavati temples are located.

Mention is also made in this book about the Royal familes’ fascination for the beaten rice for which the Kudumbis were famous: Their ability in pavilion making (mattova), beaten rice (phovu) and pappada (appla) is appreciated. For the Royal families of Cochin and Travancore, the beaten rice of Kudumbis was a specialty: therefore about 40 families were called from Alapuzha to Oruvathil kotta at Thiruvanathapuram for making beaten rice during the reign of Maharaja Marthanda Varma. (p.122)

The one-day ‘Kerala Pradeshik Sammell’ was a small – but a significant – step to bring together Konknni writers and organizations from Kerala under one roof.

- Walter Menezes

[As forwarded by email to gaspar almeida,
including photos and references]
(c) All rights reserved.

Pics: All pics by Ancy D’Souza

DSC06297: A view of the audience

DSC06315: Shri V. S. Achuthanandan, Kerala’s Leader of the Opposition lighting the     traditional lamp

DSC06335: Eric Ozario making a point

DSC06353: Gopala Gowda: The Gowdas and the gumott are inseparable’

DSC06376: Book cover of The Kurmis-Kunbis of India by Pratapsinh Velip Kansar

DSC06561: Jose Salvador Fernandes presenting his paper

Wednesday, April 25, 2012




By: Walter Menezes

With pictures by Agush Gonsalves

Some exclusive pictures of Goa’s Labour Minister in action,
   bringing back memories of the great goalkeeper that he had been, once upon a time!

Two weeks after being inducted in the Cabinet, Avertano Furtado, the unassuming Minister for Labour and Fisheries, showed up at the football ground of Quepem Sports Complex and played for Tilamol-Quepem Veterans in the inaugural charity match of ‘The Clash of the Veterans’ against Chinchinim Veterans on Sunday, 22 April 2012.

Rising to the occasion, the Labour Minister proved his mettle as an exceptional goalkeeper pulling off two great saves for Tilamol-Quepem Veterans and helping the team win the match by 4-3 goals. In the process, Avertano Furtado instantly won the hearts of Quepemkars as he rubbed shoulders with the players and mingled with the spectators! The winning team was leading 2-1 at half-time. Egidio D’Costa, Joaquim Dias, Rosario Fernandes and Jose Rbello scored for Tilamol-Quepem Veterans while Elvis Goes, Mario Soares and Piety Leitao netted the goals for Chinchinim Veterans.

‘The Clash of the Veterans’ football charity matches have been organized by Tilamol-based Khell Kala Mogi (KKM) to raise funds to support the family of one of their active members, late Rocy Fernandes who died two months ago in a tragic road accident while on his way to Sarzora. Late Rocy was also a football player.

Peter Fernandes, President of KKM welcomed the guests and players while Rf Urbano Fernandes, the Parish Priest of Our Lady Mother of Poor Church, Tilamol recited a short prayer before the commencement of the match. Labour Minister Avertano Furtado also spoke on the occasion and later donated Rs.10,000/- as his contribution towards the fund. KKM has so far collected more than fifty thousand from well-wishers whose names were announced during the match.

Next charity match will be played on Sunday, 29 April 2012, between Bardez Veterans and Salgaonkar Veterans.

The Minister shakes hands with players of Chinchinim Veterans.
Praying…Labour Minister with players of Tilamol-Quepem Veterans.

Ivan Coutinho, captain of Tilamol-Quepem Veterans welcomes the Minister with a bouquet.

 Feels good to be with the players again!

With Khell Kala Mogi President Peter Fernandes and Parish Priest Fr Urbano Fernandes before the start of play
Feels good to be with the players again!

No! I won’t let that one pass through my hands…a study in concentration.
The Minister is having a ‘ball of a time’!

[Photos and reports, as forwarded to  gaspar almeida.]

An edited version of this photo-feature appeared on Gomantak Times dated 25 April 2012.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011




                                                   By: Walter Menezes

His slogan, Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it, fired the hearts and minds of a nation thirsting for freedom.
Lokmanya Tilak, India’s tall leader was remembered at a solemn and impressive function organized by Sanguem Quepem Patrakar Sangh (SQPS) on August 1, 2011 at Sarvadoya High School Hall, Curchorem. SQPS was established in 1983 and the function coincided with the 28th Anniversary Celebrations of the sangh.

As in the past, this year too, SQPS honoured two distinguished Government servants and a journalist and felicitated meritorious students from Curchorem who excelled in the SSC and HSSC Examinations.

Agnelo A Fernandes, Deputy Collector and Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Quepem Sub-Division was honoured with the Late Pundalik Tukoba Naik Memorial Award while Kalpana A Nayak Karmali, X-Ray Technician of Curchorem Health Centre received the Late Suvarna Suhas Sanvordekar Memorial Award. Both these awards are given every year to two best government servants from Sanguem and Quepem talukas. Marathi writer and columnist Vijay Narayan Kapdi was the recipient of the ‘Patrakar Mitr Award’ instituted in memory of Late Gajanan Shenvi Borkar.

Sarvanand Sawant Dessai and Vithal Audienkar, Educational Programme In-Charge and Advisory Board Member respectively of SQPS were also honored on the occasion.
Shyam Satardekar, Curchorem MLA and Chairman, Goa Tourism Development Corporation was the Chief Guest while Alifa Fernandes, Chairperson, Curchorem-Kakoda Municipal Council was the Guest of Honour. Eminent writer and journalist, Vishnu Surya Wagh was the Keynote Speaker. SQPS’s Founder President Chandrakant Parsekar presided.

In his address, Vishnu Wagh spoke about the disturbing trends that one noticed in today’s era of journalism and went on to add that many times, more than the Chief Editor, it was the Advertisement Manager who called the shots, even going to the extent of influencing the outcome of the newspaper pages.

Vartahar, a special issue published by SQPS was also released.

Meritorious students who were felicitated included Priya Singh, Prachi Jaiprakash Mahale, Esha Eknath Sinai Bhangui, Deepika Subhash Naik, Tejal Kamlaksh Gaonkar, Smita Gawas Dessai, Cynia Nilesh Chari, Saish N Raut Dessai, Elaine Valansa Fizardo, Akhil Jaiwant Sinai Bhangui (all students of SSC) and Siddhi Ashok Gaunekar, Shravani Devidas Gurav, Shingadi Dixita Bhairu and Kapil U Naik (all students of XII).

Earlier in the day, All Goa Devotional Singing Competition was also organized by SQPS which received enthusiastic response from participants.

Pic DSC_0689: Best Govt. Servant Award: Agnelo A Fernandes receiving the Late Pundalik Tukoba Naik Memorial Award from Vishnu Surya Wagh. Shyam Satardekar, Curchorem MLA, Alifa Fernandes, Chairperson, Curchorem-Kakoda Municipal Council and SQPS President Prahar Sanvordekar and Founder President Chandrakant Parsekar are also seen.

Pic DSC_0697: Kalpana A Nayak Karmali with the Late Suvarna Suhas Sanvordekar Memorial Award.

Pic DSC_0706: Vijay Narayan Kapdi smiles after receiving the Patrakar Mitr Award.

Pic 4: Award winners, meritorious students and participants of Singing Competition with guests and SQPS members.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

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Konkani book "TURO" - A review by: Walter Menezes


 A review of the book by: Walter Menezes

(first appeared on Gomantak Times dated 25.01.2011)

An unusual cover design: a combination of flowers, the main altar of a church in all its glitter and the writer himself, greeted me when I picked up a copy of Turo, Vincy Quadros’ award-winning book of Konknni short stories in Roman script and I wondered why. Two pages into the book, I found it was Vincy’s way of dedicating his collection to Neves Saibinn (Our Lady of Snows), the patroness of Raia parish. “…zaitea kalla thavn mhoji itsa asli mhojem ek tori pustok Neves Saibinnik ompunk. Aiz hi mhoji itsa purnn zata mhunn Neves Saibinnik hanv din’vastam ani noman kortam. (I have been nursing a wish for a long time to dedicate one of my books to Our Lady of Snows. I thank and praise Neves Saibinn for having fulfilled this wish.),” he says in his introduction, Kothancho Turo Bandtana… Incidentally, the book was released on 5th August, 2010, the day of the feast of Our Lady of Snows.

Like the finely crafted main altar on the cover, the hundred plus pages that make this book gives us a glimpse of Vincy’s craftsmanship as a storyteller, encompassing a variety of subjects ranging from love and lust to matters of faith and fortitude. “Protek kothent ek nirop asa, dekh asa ani jivitachi somzonni asa…(There is a message and a moral, and the meaning of life in every story…),” is how Fr. Cipriano da Silva has summed up the ten stories in Turo.

The first, Olem Mon, is a touching story of Salvador who returns home after 5 long years in Kuwait and goes to visit Sabina, the girl who holds a special place in his heart, that same evening with a bag full of imported perfumes and soap. But is Sabina waiting? Towards the end of the story and using minimum space, Vincy not only creates a tragic twist in the tale but a remarkable story as well. Mukti, on the other hand, focuses on a young and educated Sunita’s journey into the rough and tumble of politics and her determined fight to free her village from the clutches of soreachim dukanam (liquor shops) and tavernas. Moved at the sight of male members addicted to liquor and families in ruins, she makes ‘hea ganvant bhouxik lugarancher soro bond (ban sale of liquor at public places in this vaillage)’ her one and only slogan during the panchayat elections and she not only wins but goes on to become the Sarpanch as well!

In Svatontreo, Vincy uses Meena to give a new lease of life to her mother while elsewhere his heart bleeds at the sight of atrocities and injustices heaped upon women. Ruchika is not only a stark reminder of the ‘games’ powerful people play but a reconstruction of sorts of the infamous Ruchika/Rathore saga that hogged the limelight not so long ago.

In Ostori Dis, when Sumitra conceives for the third time and goes to her mother-in-law to inform her of the doctor’s advice and the risks involved if she continues with her pregnancy, her sasumai rubbishes her saying, “Amger zaunk nant go bhurgim? (You think we have not borne children?)” Clearly, Vincy is a man with his ear to the ground and uses such crisp dialogues, like tea-bags, to flavor his collection.

At times, however, one does notice this need not only to fine-tune the stories (Zatra, Devacho Gutt) but add a dash of colour too. In Kurpa, where the story unfolds on 5th August, the day the Raia parish celebrates the feast of Neves Saibinn, Vincy only makes a passing reference to the cutting-of-the-corn ceremony (hech disak Gõyant poilem konnos katortat) with which the feast is associated. Also known all over as Konnsachem Fest (Harvest Feast), Vincy could have done well to include a para or two detailing the pomp and pageantry as the first corn is cut by the priest, heralding the beginning of the harvest season. And in Devacho Gutt, the word horaunk (to plead) seems a little out of place, especially from a Catholic’s point of view. [“Devak horaunk hache poros dusro lugar khoim asa Padr Vigar? (Father, can anyone find a better place than this to plead before God?),” Maria asks the parish priest when questioned about her presence inside the church.]

Published under the Pikavoll scheme of Dalgado Konknni Akademi, Turo could have been a shade better if Vincy had done another round of spell-check to weed out some unnecessary mistakes.

While complimenting Vincy on being awarded the Konknni Martir Floriano Vaz Puroskar instituted by Thomas Stephen’s Konknni Kendr, Porvorim for Turo, here’s wishing him Neves Saibinnichi kurpa to scale greater heights in the years to come!

Walter Menezes

About the book:
TURO (a collection of short stories) by Vincy Quadros
Published by Filomena Quadros for Snows Prakashan, Arlem, Raia
Pages: 114, Price: Rs.60/-

[ The author can be contacted via email: vincyquadros at
Vincy Quadros is the recipient of the 2010 Konknni Martir Floriano Vaz Puroskar, the literary award instituted by Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr, Porvorim for his collection of short stories, Turo.
The award was conferred on him on Republic Day, 26th January, 2011. Vincy Quadros is also the Vice President [Op-odheokx] of the Goa Konknni Akademi and his postal address is:
"Snows Krupa", Arlem, Raia, Salcete Goa and can be contacted on his Mobile - 9822587498.
Visit me at ].

Related pictures:
1. Vincy receiving the Konknni Martir Florian Vaz Puroskar from Chief Guest, Shri Cyriaco Dias. Dr. (Fr.) Pratap Naik, Director, TSKK is also seen.

2. Vincy with Smt. Ophelia D’Souza (recipient of Antonio Pereira Konknni Puroskar) and Jose Salvador Fernandes (recipient of Dr. Jack Sequeira Puroskar). Fr. Pratap Naik, Shri Cyriaco Dias and Trupti Naik are also seen.