A Re-Look at the Deccan of the 16th Century

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The 16th century, so important in the history of Goa, was a complex and turbulent time for the whole of the Deccan. Its history, including architectural history, is however often looked at only through the prism of religious relations and divides; ‘Hindu architecture’ and ‘Muslim architecture’ are terms still in use in popular writing and college courses. Richard M. Eaton and Phillip B. Wagoner have made a valiant attempt to get beyond these simplistic divisions with their new book, ‘Power, Memory and Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600’ (OUP, 2014), which is a study of the syncretic and historicist approach to architecture in sixteenth-century Deccan.

 

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Ironies of history: October 14 and the Jains of Palitana

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

October 14 was the anniversary of the conversion of Dr Ambedkar and 5 million others, mainly Dalits, to Buddhism in 1956. And not the Buddhism of monastery-based ritualism, nor the self-focussed meditation so fashionable nowadays, but a socially revolutionary ideology committed to the struggle against caste. A Buddhism that is much closer to the original, if one goes by the works of scholars like the Kosambis, Kancha Ilaiah, Romila Thapar, and Ambedkar himself.

 

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The Name of Sant Sohirobanath

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The recent renaming of the Government College of Pernem, as the Sant Sohirobanath Ambiye College of Art and Commerce, throws up several issues. Jason Keith Fernandes discussed some a few days ago (‘Sant Sohirobanath and the Secular Death’), including how this use of the name of a Hindu and Saraswat religious figure for a government institution is both an attack on secularism and a continuing of the hegemony of the Saraswat caste in public spaces in Goa, thereby identifying the ‘true’ Goan as a Saraswat.

 

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What Government Demolishes Homes in the Pouring Rain?

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

What kind of government demolishes homes in the pouring rain? A government that is confident that the chattering classes will not be bothered. It is not only the Parrikar government that is to be condemned for an attack on the very lives of people, especially the aged, ill, and children among them, whose houses were recently bulldozed in Baina, Vasco, during the downpours of July. One child in Baina was 6 days old, according to a newspaper report, just home for the first time from the Chicalim nursing home, when his house was demolished. Now his mother, weak after a tough delivery, is ill and cannot care for the baby who huddles in his grandmother’s arms under a tarpaulin sheet.

 

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Sardesai and the Progress of Casteism

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Flinging some rice around is a practice fairly common in South Asian weddings. But recently at a GSB wedding in Goa, I was witness to a new and bigger ritual of waste, in which rice was repeatedly poured over the heads of a number of GSB couples seated in a line; the poured rice resulted in messy heaps trodden underfoot all around. When I expressed disgust at the waste of grain, a GSB friend was quick with reassurance: don’t worry, the sweepers will take it home later. It’s never wasted.

 

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O Tiracol, O Goa: Thoughts Towards a ‘Quarta Corrente’

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

Tiracol has the potential to be a watershed moment for Goa. But only if it is accompanied by a deeper reflection on the underlying streams of thought about Goa’s political status, and drawing of linkages.  Goa being currently a part of India, today we are no longer at that trisection thinking whether Goa be back under Portuguese rule, or be part of India, or separate from Portugal and India. So, can there be a fourth political location – a stream of thought that would do justice and be transformative for Goa?  As Goa witnesses its 70th Revolution Day, it is time for introspection.

 

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Local Identity, Global Architecture

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By VISHVESH KANDOLKAR

 

A thorny question faces a number of parishes in Goa where the congregation has outgrown the existing churches. Some are more than willing to tear down, or drastically modify, their old churches to build bigger ones. Others are horrified at such proposals and argue that these churches, like the one in Nuvem, are part of the unique architectural heritage of Goa.

 

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Sterile Neighbourhoods

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By VISHVESH KANDOLKAR

 

While walking around with some friends in Dona Paula, our discussion veered to its architecture. We started comparing buildings, appreciating some but more often bemoaned the fact that for the most part they were loud, gaudy, and, at times, completely out of scale. Most of the buildings in Dona Paula are large single-family bungalows, with high compound walls and even bigger gates, intended to symbolize the wealth of the patron within. While one bungalow was trying to impress with over sized column and pediment, the other went overboard with decorative railings and ugly pergolas. As we moved along, we came across a series of contemporary row-houses marked by sleek lines of horizontal and vertical planes. For a change, my companions approved of the work. I remained skeptical,also evasive about the reason for my continued criticism. Nevertheless, I had a feeling that,given the context, my own work as an architect would not have been very different. Why then was I critical of the wealthy neighborhood of Dona Paula?  Why did I find it sanitized, even sterile?

 

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