Gomantak Maratha Samaj

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Gomantak Maratha Samaj(GMS)
Total population
100,000 (approx)
Regions with significant populations

Primary populations in: Goa, Sindhudurg, Uttar Kannada

Populations in: United Kingdom, United States, Canada
Konkani, Marathi,
Related ethnic groups
Naik Maratha Samaj, Nutan Maratha Samaj

Gomantak Maratha Samaj(GMS) is a Konkani speaking community found in Indian state of Goa.[1] They are known as Naik Maratha Samaj and Nutan Maratha Samaj Karwar in Karnataka and Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra respectively.


Gomantak Marathas is relatively a new ameliorative name (coined in late 20th century[2])given to the group of temple service personnels,for uniting and emancipating them. They originally were following temple related groups:[3]


  • Those who participated in music and singing were known as Kalavantini, literally meaning an artist,they always enjoyed a higher position in this community.
  • Those who kept the temple lamps,Palanquin,and hold Chamara(Chavar in Konkani) were known as Bhavins,literally a pious lady.


Etymologically Devli, the word Devli is derived from the word Devul or Dev meaning God. So Devalis are those who were dedicated or devoted to the temple or to God.Devli males (Jyotkar) lit the temple lamps and mashal(torch) and held Devdanda and acted as attendants (Katkars). Played on ritual musical instruments like Mahavadya,Panchavadya,Ranavadya etc.


They were not always connected to the temple but with the landlords(Bhatkars),at whose residence they attended all type of household work.


Their main occupation was acrobatics.They used to play Jagar(a form of their play) and it was main source of their livelihood,and held a lower status in their community.


Goa and neighboring Sindhudurg and Uttar Kannada had a system of temple-artists. The system of Devadasi was prevalent in Goa since times immemorial and is thought to have been introduced by the Sumerians, though they held high status in the society then.[4] It founds references throughout Goan history.[5] It is said that the widows of Marathas and sometimes even other castes sought shelter in the temples as they were forced to follow the Sati tradition.[6] Portuguese colonial rulers called them "balladares"(singers). Whereas in Sindhudurg, British and Dutch called them Devalis (Devali means who comes from temple). Later, with the religious intolerance of the Portuguese rulers, the temples shifted and lost their glory.[7]

People fled to the neighboring Bombay province, where they had joined the music gharanas to perfect their art and talent. They began organizing themselves after the post-1910 liberal period of Portuguese rule. In 1910, Rajaram Painginikar started Movement from Paingini Village of Goa. In 1917, Maratha Gayan Samaj (Maratha Singers Society) was formed in Kakode. In 1937, in the leadership of Rajaram Panginikar Gomantak Maratha Samaj, Mumbai's Goa branch started. This community being educated has a large number of doctors, actors, engineers etc.[7]

In the twentieth century itself, this caste uplifted itself ,with a little help from outside. The Gomantak Maratha Samaj grouping has a success story that would do anyone proud. It has important sociological lessons for all to learn[8]

At present,[when?] all the above mentioned once exogamous divisions of the community have become united under Gomantak Maratha Samaj. The main functions of the society were as follows:

  • To promote their education.
  • To take precautionary measures to stop Devadasi system.
  • To arrange marriages of their daughters.
  • Other community welfare activities for their community.


  • They are concentrated in different parts of Konkan region,viz.Goa,Karwar,Sindhudurga,Mangalore.
  • They speak Konkani and use Marathi for correspondence.
  • Bio-anthropological information about this community is not available.Most of them have fair complexion and are good looking.
  • Rice and fish is their staple food.They partake flesh of goat and sheep but do not eat beef and pork.

Social system[edit]

Marriage and divorce[edit]

Marriage was not prevalent amongst many in the past.In the present era,all the old customs have been banned.They marry according the Hindu rites.Marriage is prohibited amongst members of community bearing the same surname as they are believed to belong to the same Kul or clan.Cross-cousin marriages are prevalent and they follow customs followed by other Hindus.Earlier a bride-price was prevalent.Widow marriage is permitted and divorce is not so common


Their dead are cremated,and death pollution is observed.

Occupational activities[edit]

Some of them now own lands and are engaged in agriculture(cashewnuts,coconuts).Many are engaged in white collar jobs.Most of them are economically sound and educated.Some of them have earned reputation as politicians.

Religion and culture[edit]

As Hindus they follow all Gods and Goddesses.They revere their clan deities and celebrate most of the Hindu festivals.

The community is noted for excellence in music and dance.While worshiping deities in the temples they played the ritual music.They play classical Indian musical instruments besides the temple instruments.

Prominent members of the community[edit]

People of this community are well known for their intelligence and success in the fields of art, education and science. People include top artists, surgeons, educationalists, politicians and others from Goa,Maharshtra and Karnataka.[9][10]

Classical Singers and Playback Singers[edit]


Film Actors and Actresses[edit]

Royal Military, India Army Officers[edit]

  • Raysaheb Dr. Ramaji Dhondaji Khanolkar, Royal British Army Officer
  • Major G.Captain Vikram Khanolkar, 5/11th Sikh Regiment
  • Savitri Khanolkar, Designer of Paramveer Chakra
  • Subhedar Vishnu Sakharam Parulekar, (Royal British Army)

Drama Actors and Actress[edit]

Musicians,Lyricist,Writers, Novelists,Directors,Producers[edit]

Engineer's,Doctors,Scientist, Bureaucrats and Lawyers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gracias, Fatima da Silva. Kaleidoscope of women in Goa, 1510–1961. p. 80. 
  2. ^ "Gomantak Prakruti ani Sanskruti" by B.D.Satoskar
  3. ^ Gracias, Fatima da Silva. Kaleidoscope of women in Goa, 1510-1961. p. 80. 
  4. ^ Sinai Dhume, Anant Ramkrishna (1986). The cultural history of Goa from 10000 B.C.-1352 A.D. the University of Michigan: Ramesh Anant S. Dhume. pp. 335 pages (see pages 310–311). 
  5. ^ "A socio-cultural history of Goa from the Bhojas to the Vijayanagara" By Vithal Raghavendra Mitragotri
  6. ^ "Gomantak Prakruti ani Sanskruti" by B.D. Satoskar
  7. ^ a b About Kalavant Samaj of Goa
  8. ^ Goa world book review
  9. ^ "Wind of fire: the music and musicians of Goa" -Page 377,by Mário Cabral e Sá – Music – 1997 – 373 pages
  10. ^ First CM of Goa belonged to this community. "Great Goans",By Mário Cabral e Sá, Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues- Page 69

External links[edit]