Descendants of Goans to revisit state under youth programme

Panaji, May 15 (IANS) Descendants of Goans, who fled their villages centuries ago to escape religious inquisition during the Portuguese regime, will be brought to Goa as part of a youth programme, a minister said Wednesday.

“It is unfortunate that they had to leave Goa because of the circumstances at the time. But this programme will help them understand and identify themselves with the place where their ancestors originated,” former minister of state for external affairs Eduardo Faleiro told reporters here.

Under the programme, 10 youths would be brought to Goa annually from areas in Karnataka and Maharashtra and shown around Goa and the likely places from where their ancestors had to flee during inquisition.

St Francis Xavier, a Jesuit priest who hailed from Navarra in the Basque region of Spain, heralded Christianity in Goa in the early 1500s. He was incidentally also responsible for initiating the process of religious inquisition in Goa.

In order to flee the religious persecution, a large number of families from the state fled to villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka like Belgaum, Kolkapur and Ajra, where they settled in clusters.

Even centuries later, the clusters and the descendants of the migrants living in them are still referred to as “Bardeshkars” or “Kokanes”. Both terms indicate Goan lineage.

“The programme will be conducted by the Nehru Yuva Kendra and will be centrally-funded,” Faleiro said.

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