Monday 14 June 2021

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Culture | Literature

22,000 families fled Goa due to Portuguese conversions


Swapn Saraswat, a Kannada novel written on the first exodus of Goans in 1560 as a result of religious conversions by the Portuguese has turned out to be the bestseller in Karnataka and is being now translated into five different languages.

Describing the whole history of this horrific exodus, Gopalkrishna Pai, the author and a retired bank employee, says he never thought that the novel would be such a great success.

While narrating the whole story at the Goa Art and Literary Festival, Pai said the historic religious exodus took place in two years while there were 48 families from Verne and surrounding areas migrated to Karnataka in one day.

Dr Kiran Budkuley, a Konkani writer and head of the English faculty and Goa University, was in conversation with Pai at the Festival.

Around 22,000 Hindu families fled from Goa in in 1560 after Portuguese started conversions, said Pai, most of which settled in Karnataka and prospered there.

He travelled 60 times from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra to Kochi in Kerala to get his facts right.

A screenplay writer for Girish Kasarvali and Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Pai has gathered all possible information to make the novel most factual and equally dramatic.

 “Hindus in Goa were converted even during the Muslim rule but this conversion was ‘invited’ by Goan Hindus, who brought Portuguese to Goa to eliminate the Muslims and got trapped into their religious aggression and exodus.

“There is even a photograph available of the Hindus handing over keys to the Portuguese”, he said.

The novel describes the struggles the migrated Goans went through after the exodus and how bravely they fought the circumstances to prosper.


The religious conversion compelled Goans to flee towards North and East of Goa while most of them travelled to the South, mainly to Karnataka and also up to Kochi in Kerala.

“Not only Saraswat Brahmins but also other communities like Kunbis had migrated along with them”, said Pai.

‘Swapn Saraswat’ tries to profile almost 40 generations of the migrants, who got adapted to Kannada culture and their language.

“But they loved their own Konkani language, speak Konkani at home even today and have preserved their folk culture”, says Konkani-speaking Pai, himself belonging to the migrant family.

His novel, the second edition of which was published within three months, was appreciated even by a veteran writer like late U R Ananthmurthy.

“I really don’t know what made it so popular among the Kannadigas, may be it was the only religious exodus the South India has witnessed”, feels Pai.

Incidentally, the novel remained unpublished for five long years in search of a publisher while Pai himself revised it six times.

The novel is now getting translated into Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Konkani and English. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

Total Comments :4

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No one remember prosecution of hindus in goa, it is Kashmir padits we were driven out, even being a linguistic minority our rights are denied in present state , when can we go back to Gomanthak

jayakrishnan kamath , kochi

if the portuguese are not ruling Goa any more than why follow their rules of properties etc

why hasnt the government looked into these facts which are creating problems for many goan christians here in goa

please respond and what is the best protection to follow

claret , goa

The novel is really a great novel and one also must read the article about Roman Catholic Brahmin which is available in the following link.

Nobody can deny the historical facts that India was completely a Hindu country and it is because of Muslim rulers and other institutions converted the Hindus to Islam and Christianity. It was also abetted by the Hindu kings to satisfy their ego, false prestige and internal fightings. The same trend is being continued in the form of vote bank politics. It seems we never learn from our historical blunders.

Vishwanath Pai , Udupi

Dear Readers,I am against any aggression of any kind or forceful conversions.The Konkan Coast was under the Portuguese regime and in fact the Portuguese arrived in Calicut (not in Goa) in around 1498's. So as per My research the Mangloreans,Karwaris and even Coastal Konkan (north) Bombay were under Jesuits who preached the Gospel and were converted...

Orlando vaz , Goa