Shaiva versus Vaishnava in Portuguese Goa

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Among the many myths that pass for history in Goa, a popular one is about how Hindus were relentlessly oppressed under Portuguese colonial rule. Not only were temples broken, rituals banned, and conversion enforced, we are told, but Hindus were also humiliated and tortured (via the Inquisition), so much so that everyone had to either convert or flee the Old Conquests. Most Goan Hindus are brought up on stories of religious oppression, along with religious heroism, i.e. of Hindus who had to fight valiantly for their religion and their idols.

 

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Cuncolim was not Goa’s First Rebellion against the Portuguese

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

It’s that time of year again. The anniversary of the Cuncolim incident of 15 July 1583, with its regular demands to commemorate the gauncars who were put to death by the Estado da Índia for lynching 5 Jesuit missionaries and several native Christians, provides a great example of the prevailing amnesia about Goa’s past. The amnesia is at least partly deliberate, as can be seen from how the popular Cuncolim narrative has been woven to satisfy all the nationalist tropes possible. The Portuguese as relentless oppressors, Goa as a Hindu land, religious conversion as forced and violent, natives as Hindus alone who were united against the foreign Christians, elite Goans as martyrs for Hinduism, and no mention of caste or land relations at all. All of which makes this incident the first ‘War of Independence’ not only in Goa but also India. What better history can any nationalist ask for?

 

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Jason Keith Fernandes at Fundação Oriente, 6 July, 2017

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THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO THE END OF THE YEAR. INCONVENIENCE CAUSED IS REGRETTED.

 

In March this year Dr. Jason Keith Fernandes was invited to choose one piece from the Museu Oriente’s Kwok On collection (Lisbon) and make a presentation as a part of their India Visual cycle.

 

Choosing the idol of the Goddess Yellamma as a starting point, in a reprise of his presentation at the Museu Oriente, Dr. Fernandes will suggest that what often appears Hindu is in fact also profoundly Islamic in nature.

“The Unsung Glories of the imam: Silence, Absence and the Islamicate in the Kwok On Collection’s India holdings” will demonstrate the manner in which practices associated with the Shia faith, and the historic figure of Imam Hussein are central to much South Asian (Indian), and indeed Goan culture.

 

Jason Keith Fernandes was awarded a Doctorate in anthropology for his research that examined the conflicts around the demand for the recognition of Konkani in the Roman script in Goa’s Official Language Act. Jason came to anthropology after a Bachelor’s degree from the National Law School of India, Bangalore and a Master’s degree from the International Institute for the Sociology of Law. A recipient of various scholarships, he has worked in the developmental sector, taught at the National Law School, and is a contributor to various local and national newspapers.

 

Dr. Fernandes is currently a post-doctoral scholar at the University Institute of Lisbon.

Cantaram as Political dissent

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By KAUSTUBH NAIK

 

Earlier this month, Goa Government’s Department of Information and Publicity held a ‘Konkani Kantaram Utsav’, a cantaram singing competition in which the participants were asked to sing about the achievements of the current Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government. This competition attracted a lot of criticism, noticeably from the tiatr community, questioning the government’s intentions behind organizing such a competition. Cantaram competitions are usually held without any pre-decided themes and certainly not with a rule that prohibits participants from criticizing the government. On the contrary, one of the several requirements of a cantar and cantorist is that of political sharpness. Cantorists ranging from Conception-Nelson-Anthony (famously known as the Trio kings) and William de Curtorim in the past, to the current sensation Francis de Tuem, have been famous for their radical political positions. Cantaram carry a huge affective magnitude for the Goan Catholic communities and it has played a key role in influencing public opinion at various historical junctures in post-colonial Goa.  The concerned department, in its official press release, stated that “[s]ong and drama is one of the medium used to propagating various policies, programmes and the schemes of the Government [sic]”. While using traditional cultural practices to propagate government schemes is not unheard of, there is more to the said cantaram competition than meets the eye.

 

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How to Read Monuments

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By VISHVESH KANDOLKAR

 

In her lecture titled ‘The Introduction to Ancient History’, delivered in August 2014, historian Romila Thapar – current D. D. Kosambi Chair at Goa University– suggested that there is a conceptual difference in imagining the past through historical monuments as compared to reading about them in historical texts. ‘Texts’ are abstract concepts, she explained, which must be ‘read’, their meaning understood, and only then can one locate their content in the historical context. In comparison to such abstraction, historical monuments have physical presence which can be seen, touched and felt. But one cannot simply visit a historical location and expect to be enlightened by the experience. An architectural appreciation of monuments requires meaningful engagement with their history and context. It is here that a well-researched guidebook can make a difference. One such book relevant to Goa is the recently released Portuguese Sea Forts: Goa, with Chaul, Korlai and Vasai (2015), by architectural historian Amita Kanekar.

 

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Good Muslim, Bad Muslim

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

In the furor that followed the renaming of New Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road, the long dead emperor has been enjoying some of the best press he has had for the past 100 years. While there were some critics who still clung to his standard demonical image, saying that the renaming has just given an evil man unnecessary publicity, or that there are even worse characters gracing Delhi roads, quite a few appear to have realised that he was not as bad as all that.

 

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