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Home Food for Thought The Konkan Coast Konkani Christian Migration

Konkani Christian Migration

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 Between 1600 and 1763 AD, Goans migrated to South Kanara, because of political, cultural and economic reasons.   The Portuguese had their trading post at Coondapur and needed people to work over there, and this facilitated the migration.   For a practical example of one family who has recorded the facts in their genealogy, you may read about it in the story given 

How Mangaloreans migrated from Goa - an example:

Cojma Pais , the head of the Pais Clan

On a quiet hill in Goa, called Mont de Guirrem, the Capuchins had their Monastery. Fr. Joseph, the eldest son of my father's sister who was a Capuchin friar, told me that on one side of their monastery the landowners lived, and one among them was a Pais  family. On the other side of the road lived the people who tilled the fields for the land owner families. It is said, that there was a custom, perhaps handed down by the Portuguese rulers, that during the rite of baptism, the baptized took the surname of their Godfathers. The landowners and the tillers had the same surnames, as the Godfathers of the landowners were some of the Portuguese settlers and those of the tillers, were the baptized Landowners who gave their surnames to the Indian converts. Before conversion, their family names were Prabhu, Kamat, Naik, Pai etc. The Pais household was a Prabhu family before their conversion to Catholicism. Pais in Portuguese means ‘Country’. My story starts with a family, headed by a person named Cojma, Portuguese version of Cosmos.   Nothing is known about him, except that my cousin, Fr. Joseph o. f. m. Cap, culled his name out of the birth and death registers of the Mont de Guirrem monastery. He was preparing data for his father, Marian Salvadore Pais, who wanted to prepare the Pais Genealogy. Cojma (Cosmos) might have had many children, but two of his sons, Salu, and Domingo, decided to move out to Mangalore about 450 years ago. There might have been a teary send off, with their mother packing pickles, dry fish and masalas for their use in Mangalore, and some food for the voyage on the Patmar a sea faring boat. They might have sailed from the Marmagoa Harbor, with many other Goan men, who might have had surnames like D’Souza, Fernandes, Gonsalves, Tellis, Saldana, Castelino, Sequeira etc.

Salu and Domingo Pais


The place where these two brothers lived in Mangalore  is not known, but I thought they might have landed in Coondapur. While many of their friends remained there, others might have gone southwards looking for jobs or to start some business of their own. They may have settled in different villages and towns.

Salu, the older boy of Cojma, might have got married first, probably to a girl from a Shetty family in Mangalore, as her name is recorded in the genealogy, as Zoblu Shet. Domingo married later and his wife’s name is not recorded anywhere. Probably, Salu was able to own some land with the help of his father in law. From the name Zoblu, his wife might have embraced Catholicism, the religion of her husband, or she might have been the daughter of some convert, who did not change his surname.
Salu and Zoblu might have been a very loving couple, as they had nine children. The eldest was a girl called Anna whom they got married to one Morian Coelho, who might have been the son of a man who had traveled with the father from Goa. Jackie was born after Anna and as a boy must have worked on the land, helping his father tilling it, and looking after the farm animals. He had four younger brothers, Pascu, Juze  Mingel, John, and Simon.  

The sisters younger to Jackie were Modthes, (Martha) who married Kaithan Gosal (Gonsalves).   Modthes was the girl in between Pascu and Juze Mingel . The latter married Anna Costa, while the former might have died unmarried.
John came after Juze  Mingel  and between him and his younger brother Simon was their sister Mercine who was married to Juze Coelho. John married a local girl who was called Regina Mudarth. Many D’Souza families of Mangalore came from the Mudarth clan. Ignatia Coelho was the wife of Simon. The last girl Gratia married Domingo Soza. The Soza family is also known as D’Souza. From the surnames, we can surmise that many of these families might have originated in Goa, and some in Mangalore. According to the Portuguese pronunciation, the last vowels were not pronounced, thus Coelho, was Coel, Lobo was Lob, Soza was Soz, Fernandes was Fernand, Pereira was Pereir etc. Though Anna and Mercine were married to boys from Coel family, we do not know if the two sons in law were brothers. May be the wife of Simon, Ignatia might have been their sister. I am led to believe that marrying within closely knit families helped the land owning families from de-fragmenting their lands. The land also helped their family bonds. Agnes, the sister of Fr. Joseph, who gave me the genealogy was the great grand daughter of Juze Mingel.

Domingo Pais  and his family

Domingo the brother of Salu had eight children, four boys, and four girls. The boys were Niku, (Nicholas) who married Regina Mathias. Juze was married to Mercy Rego. Intru (a rare name) married Mercy Soz, and Anthony who might have died young or remained a bachelor. Since Domingo was the first generation Goan to have migrated to Mangalore whether the marriages of his children took place in Goa or Mangalore is a matter left to conjecture


Descendants of Juze Pais, great grandson of Salu Pais in 1926


A Parable of the Fish in the Sea

Once a Jesuit priest preached a sermon, I think in a village mission station.   He compared the human beings on this planet, to fish in a glass bowl.  He said, there are different levels in the glass bowl, with perforated filters - the top layer is inhabited by the big fish, and there are about five or six of them in that layer.   The big fish can not go into the lower layer, as the perforation is small for them.  Below this layer are fish who are a bit smaller and the too can not go below, but try to rise into the upper.   At the bottom the area is very large, and inhabited by plenty of small fish.    The Lord the Bowl, pours food into the bowl thrice a day, from the top opening of the Bowl.  The big fish eat most of it, and what they can not finish, filters down to the lower level, where the fish grab as much as they can.  Left-overs flow into the bottom layer, and that has to be shared with the large mass of the small fish.   The hungry small fish are perpetually hungry and try to swim into the upper chamber, but only the smart ones survive and the less smart are devoured by the larger fish.   Fish in the middle layer get fed up of eating the crumbs, and get jealous of the big fish, and try to climb into their realm, but hardly they enter, they are totally gone, right into the belly of the big fish.

What do you think of this parable?   The glass bowl is our world.     The day the Lord of the Bowl will act is when the bigger fish do not learn to share, and will smash the whole bowl, and dump them into the sea.

Have a peek at the district from where Mangaloreans come

Though Mangalore is a part of the district, people who speak Konkani will call themselves Mangaloreans.   Then the next question they would ask, "from which part of the district do you hail?" - and then the matter is put to rest.   However, in the present environment Indians mingle and mix with people from all regions, and inter-marry between people of different communities.   "Mangaloreans" themselves have become a large melting pot, and younger people do not care from where their friends come.  Our children classify themselves as Mangis for Mangaloreans, 'Macapaus' for Goans, etc.   In Konkani prayers we say: "Somiya Maca Pau" - which means Lord Have Mercy, and may be our youngsters twisted it to give a nickname for the Community.  It is because of the lack of knowledge of their rich historic heritage, that they tend to do this




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