Moira, Goa

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Moira is located in Goa
Location of Moira in Goa
Coordinates: 15°35′39″N 73°50′24″E / 15.59417°N 73.84000°E / 15.59417; 73.84000Coordinates: 15°35′39″N 73°50′24″E / 15.59417°N 73.84000°E / 15.59417; 73.84000
Country India
State Goa
District North Goa
Sub-district Bardez
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Postcode 403507
Area code(s) 0832

Moira ([mɔjɽɛ̃ː]) is a village in North Goa, India. It has been the home of a number of prominent individuals from Goa, and is known for its special variety of tasty, long-length bananas (popularly known as "Mundollchim kellim" in local Konkani language).

"Legendary village of wise fools"[edit]

Glenis Maria D'Souza, herself from Moira, [1] describes the village and its people thus: "If you behave a little idiosyncratic [sic] in Goa, don't be surprised if you are called a 'Moidekar'. The legendary village of wise fools, Moira, is a cozy hamlet well located in the heart of Bardez, cuddled on either side by the Mapusa river branch of Mandovi and its Uskoi branch."

A Flemish jeweller and the parish church of Moirá[edit]

Moira Church at dusk

The co-founder (with Frederick Noronha) and moderator of Goa-Research-Net, Teotonio R de Souza, a Moirá ganvkar of the fifth vangodd (local village clan), published a brochure on Moirá, when it celebrated 350 years of its Church in 1986. It was released by the then Archbishop-Patriarch Raul Gonçalves on the feast day of Moirá Church.

At the time Moira Church was first built there were two Flemish brothers in Goa, the diamond dealers Jacques and Joseph de Coutre. At the

beginning of the 17th century the Dutch arrival in the Indian seas led the Portuguese administration in Goa to keep a close watch on such foreigners in Portuguese India, particularly if they were of Dutch origin.

Some of them, including Coutre brothers were arrested and packed to Lisbon. They managed to find their way to freedom with the help of their diamonds. Coutre's autobiographical account in manuscript is found in the National Library of Madrid. It was edited and published recently.[2] He describes his adventures in Goa and elsewhere in Asia.

Assisted the Franciscans[edit]

A notarial deed drawn in Goa on 14 March 1623 and now preserved in the National Library of Lisbon [3] records that it was Joseph de Coutre (who passed as "Couto" in Goa) who assisted the Franciscans financially to build the first structure of Moira church of Our Lady of Conception. This changes somewhat the story told by Fr. Paulo de Trindade, who had stated that the church building was financed entirely by the Moidekars. The Coutre brothers were counting upon their dedication to religious causes, or rather the Catholic causes, to score some points before the tribunal of the Inquisition.

There was another such case at that time in Goa, the Augsburg-born commercial entrepreneur Ferdinand Cron (1559–1637) who had important links with Augsburg bankers. He was better connected than Coutre brothers in the official Portuguese circles, but even so he was eventually expelled in 1624. He had contributed generously to the chapel for St. Francis Xavier on the eve of his canonisation, and had also tried to help the Capuchins, but the envy and rivalry of the local casados (white settlers) cast suspicions against him as a Dutch spy to pack him off to Europe. Like the Coutre brothers, his wealth gained him mercy and favour in the Madrid court that ruled Portugal at that time. More on Cron can be read in the writings of late Professor Hermann Kellenbenz who has studied the German-Portuguese connection, utilising the archives of Fuggers in Nuernberg.[1] Kellenbenz was for many years the keeper of the archives of that powerful banker family that gave loans to kings and popes, and financed during a period the Portuguese pepper trade.

Mass haul of Moidekars by the Goa Inquisition (1664)[edit]

See also: Goa Inquisition

Reporting another of his findings in the National Archives of Portugal (Torre do Tombo), Teotonio R. de Souza tells about a mass-haul of Moidekars, both ganvkars (from all vangodd) and some non-ganvkars, men and women, by the Holy Office of the Inquisition during its auto-da-fé in the Cathedral See on 7 December 1664. While some were pulled-up for the first time, there were others taken in for a record 14th time! However, most (almost all) men were accused of light faults associated with practices of Hinduism: António Pinto (1st time), João Correia and Jorge de Souza (2nd time), Diogo Lobo (3rd time), João Fernandes and his brother Tomé (dhobi)(4th time) Miguel de Siqueira and Antonio Mendes (5th time), Diogo da Cunha and Andre de Sá (6th time), António da Gama, João Correia, Francisco Borges, Manuel de Nazareth (7th time), Ventura Mendes, Diogo de Siqueira, João de Sá (8th time), Estevão da Cunha, Pedro de Nazareth, Diogo Mendes, João Lobo babuji,Lourenço de Souza, Baltazar da Cunha, Vicente Ribeiro, Diogo Correia, Simão Coelho (shudra)(12th time), Filipe Nazareth, Lourenço d'Azavedo, Tomé Fernandes (dhobi), Gonçalo Vellozo, Franciso da Cruz, João Nazareth, ganvkar of Moirá but resident in Santa Ines (13th time), Francisco da Cunha, married to Ursula Gomes (14th time and condemned to 4 years of labour in the gunpowder factory). There were women too, from Moirá or married in Moirá. Most of them got harsher treatment of 5–7 years of hard labour in the gunpowder manufactory: Maria Loba, Andreia de Souza and Catarina de Sá (1st time), Phelipa Pereira (from Aldoná, resident in Moirá), Felipa Cotta (also from Aldoná, resident in Moirá), Maria de Souza (widow of Andre de Souza), Ines Fernandes (regateira, shudra)(2nd time), Francisca Barboza (from the mainland, resident in Moirá)(3rd time), 15 other women from Moirá (4th time), Maria Rodrigues (regateira, shudra) married to Bartolomeu Rodrigues, condemned after death!

Having consulted the files relating to autos-da-fé celebrated in Goa during the following years till the end of the 17th century and up till the mid-18th century, Teotonio R. de Souza didn't find any Moidekars being hassled by the Inquisition. One can easily understand the anguish felt during the first 50 years post conversion as it must have been difficult to let go of accustomed habits and beliefs. But Moidekars proved to be determined learners, quick to adapt to new demands and still remain invisible to the watchful eyes.[4]

Local village clans[edit]

Leroy Veloso, a local history-enthusiast studying the village, has been identifying the members of the original five vangodd or founding clans of Moira.

According to him, the third vangod (clan) is the most composite of all, including families with various surnames. They include some prominent Moidekars like Dr. Jack de Sequeira, Erasmo Sequeira, Dr. Carmo Azavedo, John Maximian Nazare, believed to have been Asia's first Queen Counsel, Silvestre Nazaré settled in Germany and with distinguished research in nuclear science to his credit among others.

According to Veloso, the third vangod (clan) of the gaunkary of Moira consists of Azavedo (none presently in Moira, residing in Olaulim, S. do Mundo, Socorro, Saligão,etc), Sousa, Veloso (they being kulachar members of the Gaunkary of Serula too, just 1 family in Moira, the rest in Bombay, USA, U.K, Karachi, Denmark, etc) Nazare, Camotim (Kamat)(none in Moira, but in Aldona, Podval, Poira, etc), Siqueira (in Campal, Singapore, Bombay, Karachi,etc), Lobo (none in Moira, residing at Aldona). Moirá had some Calvekars (From Calvim?) who enjoyed half zonn and served the village as dhobis( washermen) and tario (canoe-men). The village community also compensated some other non-Brahmin residents who assisted the Brahmin women of Moirá in deliveries as midwives.

Meanwhile, Teotonio R. de Souza hailing from the 5th vangodd, traced his earliest convert of the family to Diogo de Souza from 1618. In his Medieval Goa(New Delhi, Concept Publications, 1979, p. 105) one can find references to documents from Goa's Historical Archives establishing the link. He has referred to Diogo de Souza in the booklet on Moirá available online, but another link is available which leads to one of the original documents with its modern Portuguese transcription.[5].

Contributions of Moira[edit]

However, as stated above, Moirá has produced Moidekars worth and by far exceeding the traditional wisdom attributed to them as can be checked in some of the "external links" at the end, but also in Dr. J. Clement Vaz, Profiles of Eminent Goans (New Delhi, Concept, 1997)or at Goanet [6]

Prominent villagers from Moira, past and present[edit]

Late Theodore Francis Mendonca of pirazona Moira was a prominent labour laws consultant and advocate and leader of opposition.Gifted with immense oratory skills he magnetised all with wisdom and a passion for his cause. He was know to play the violin,fight cases in court,dance and sing his way into people's hearts.A great philanthropist and socialist,he was the right arm of Gearge Fernandes and was also imprisoned during the emergency.

  • Late Dr Jack Sequeira, former leader of Opposition of Goa and regarded as Father of the politically crucial Opinion Poll of 1967(1960s, 1970s).
  • Late Erasmo de Sequeira, former Member of Parliament, South Goa.
  • Late Dr. Carmo Azavedo, former editor, O Heraldo, etc.
  • Former FIFA assistant referee Goculdas S Nagvenkar.
  • Late John Maximian Nazare, believed to have been Asia's first Queen Counsel,
  • Germany-based Silvestre Nazaré, with distinguished research in nuclear science to his credit.
  • Manuel Francisco D'Cruz, doyen of education in Moira
  • Fr Anthony da Silva, SJ, since October 2005 the Provincial of the 140-odd Jesuits of the Goa province. Born of Goan parents in Uganda, Africa, and hailing from Moira, Fr Tony did his Philosophy in Munich, Germany, and Theology in Pune, and completed his doctorate in Psychology with distinction from the University of Michigan, USA.
  • Teotonio R de Souza,noted Goan historian.
  • Maxwell Anthony Francis Pinto, an unsung social worker who worked relentlessly for the people and the peace of Moira
  • Floriano Lobo, social activist and founder of Goa Su-Raj Christian Party.
  • Augusto Pinto, respected educationist.
  • Deepa Awchat, (Mahambre) owner and master chef at Goa Portuguesa restaurant in Mumbai
  • Eve D'Souza, born Mombasa, Top Kenyan radio DJ, TV personality, media entrepreneur and communications director.[2]

St. Xavier's High School[edit]

St. Xavier's High School is a co-educational Institution conducted by the Diocesan Society of education, Panaji. The society is a religious based minority institution. The school was established in 1935. It is recognised by the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Porvorim and the Directorate of Education, Panaji-Goa.


External links[edit]