Persecution of Goan Catholics during the Goan Inquisition

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The Persecution of Goan during the Goan Inquisition refers to the religious persecution of Goan Catholics of Goa, India.

The Goan Inquisition established by the Portuguese empire, began in 1560 and ended in 1812.[1] Inquisitions were used by the Portuguese to prevent reversion to original faiths by natives of Goa from Christianity and had far reaching implications. In the laws and prohibitions of the inquisition in 1736, over 42 Hindu practices were prohibited.[2] They were implemented through the eradication of indigenous cultural practices such as ceremonies, fasts, the use of the sacred basil or tulsi plant, flowers and leaves for ceremony or ornament and the exchange of betel and areca nuts for occasions such as marriage (Robinson, 2000). Methods such as repressive laws, demolition of temples and mosques, destruction of holy books, fines and the forcible conversion of orphans were used.[3]

There were other far reaching changes that took place during the occupation by the Portuguese, these included the prohibition of traditional musical instruments and singing of celebratory verses, which were replaced by Western music.[4] People were renamed when they converted and not permitted to use their original Hindu names. Alcohol was introduced and dietary habits changed dramatically so that foods that were once taboo, such as pork and beef, became part of the Goan diet.[5] Architecture changed with the Baroque style that was in vogue in Portugal becoming popular. Thus, many customs were suppressed and Goans became ‘Westernised’ to some degree as a Catholic elite who came to see themselves as a “cultivated branch of a global Portuguese civilisation”.[6]

During Portuguese rule, the ancient language of Konkani was suppressed and rendered unprivileged by the enforcement of Portuguese.[7] The result this linguistic displacement was that Goans did not develop a literature in Konkani nor could the language unite the population as several scripts (including Roman, Devanagari and Kannada) were used to write it.[8] Konkani became the lingua de criados (language of the servants) [9] as Hindu and Catholic elites turned to Marathi and Portuguese respectively. Ironically Konkani is at present the ‘cement’ that binds all Goan Catholics across caste, religion and class and is affectionately termed Konkani Mai (Mother Konkani).[10] In 1987 Konkani was made an official language of Goa.

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