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They are traditionally landholding caste,and have been financially and politically influential since many centuries in Goa.They have been the most dominant caste politically in Karwar region owing to their overwhelming majority and political acumen but in recent times have lost that clout as a result of falling numbers due to the compulsion of migrations to bigger cities because of the lack of industrialization in Karwar as well better opportunities outside.
Prior to the Portuguese conquest of Goa in 1510, they were known as Chardo or Chatur-rathi. The caste appellation of Chardo eventually fell into disuse among the Hindu Kshatriyas, who joined the other Kshatriyas of the Deccan and began to be known as Marathas, in order to differentiate themselves from Christians Roman Catholic Kshatriya. The Portuguese, fearing the relapses of their converts to Hinduism, destroyed all available material reminiscent of the old religion including literary works which are stated by historians to have been in Konkani, mainly religious or socio-religious in nature. Thus leading to significant loss of history before the Portuguese era, which couldn't be preserved due to repressive treatment of the Hindus by the Portuguese regime.
Chardos of Goa
Most initial members of the community trace their origin from Chedi Kingdom and Saraswat called as Chardos or Cheddi in konkani. They formed the first civilised settlement on Konkan soil and spread them self as Naik, Shet, Phal, Prabhu, Dessai/ Mahale/ Mahalgoankar/ Goankar. Latter Bhoja and Yadava\Seuna_(Yadava)_dynasty established themselves with their other communities. Rising Kadambas gave a different dimension to Konkan with main centres at Banavasi and Goa.Kadams,Dessai and Naik originated from Goa and Karwar Kadambas and the Sawants (savant) owe their origins to the ancient Shilahara dynasty of Konkan Maharashtra (Sawantwadi region), while the Salunkhes (Salunke) are the descendants the great Chalukyas.Other migration trace from Chavda dynasty and their related communities, who were defeated by invading Arabs. During ninth to tenth Century Rajputana clans like Rana, Rawat Rajputs, Shahwant, Lad/Laad and other Suryavanshi Singhs(Surve) migrated to Konkan and Goa. Many of them had Saraswatised. Surve settled in Shringarpur and Canaconakars of Shristhal, Canacona trace their origin from Shringarpur of Ratnagiri.
Most of the Chardos of Goa have been landholdings farmers or erstwhile gentry.Some of them have descended from the erstwhile ruling and oligarchic families.They are Arya 96 Kuli Kshatriya's belong to royal families.
Other branch of this community is known as Ramakshatriya.Servegaras, Koteyawas, Ramakshathriyas or Ramarajakshathriyas are said to be a branch of the Konkan Marathas of Goa from whence they were invited by the Lingayat kings of Nagara to serve as warriors and to defend their forts ( 'KOTE' ) whence the alternative name of Koteyawa.
Origin of Konkan Marathas of Karwar
Konkan Maratha of Karwar trace their orign from Chordos of Goa along with this other member Kadams,Dessai and Naik originated from Banavasi, Halasi, Goa and Karwar Kadambas and the Sawants (savant) owe their origins to the ancient Shilahara dynasty of Konkan Maharashtra (Sawantwadi region), while the Salunkhes (Salunke) are the descendants the great Chalukyas.Bagwe original kingdom in Madhya Pradesh Dhar, They were Sardar of vijapur (like shahaji maharaj) and they came for a mission of saving the land and after victory they setteled in Konkan.
Other members of the community trace their origins to the royal Surve family from Prachitgad near Shringarpur of Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra (Kankunkars like Khalwadekar, Sail, Ranes, Bhalekar, Savants,Thakur, Naiks, Parab, Gaonkar, Gawade, Dessai/Desai,Bagwe,Bait etc.). This Kankunkar clan was founded by prince Kashi Purush and his band of brothers who founded the various Gharwais under Shristhal, Canacona. They were escaping from Mahmud Gawan's wrath after his father switched sides from Bahamani to Vijayanagara. Since Goa's Goud Saraswat Brahmins were known to work for Vijaynagara they chose to settle in Canacona. Suryarao(Suryaji) Surve who was respected and valued by Shivaji despite being his adversary belonged to the family that stayed back at Shringarpur after the scuffle with Mahmud Gawan and hence was extremely loyal to the Bahamanis. Muhammad Gavan’s conquest of the fort of Shringarpur in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra and around 1471 AD. The period of the devastating invasions of Goa by Malik Kafur in 1313 AD and Muhammad-bin-Tughluk in 1327 AD and the upheavals in Goa and around thereafter in the 14th century AD. The date mentioned in the Sadashivgad copper plates available with the Kadamba family of Deva-wada (Sadashivgad) — 14 October 1179 AD. Shivaji’s conquests of Shiveshwar Mahal and around (Karwar area) — 1665 AD to 1675 AD 2. The Dalvi who was in command of about 1000 men stationed at Karwar under the Sultan of Bijapur played an important role in helping Shivaji in this victory.
They called themselves Chardo before the advent of Portuguese.As a part of Goa Inquisition many of them converted to Roman Catholicism.Most of the conversions were brutal and by force,though many have also embraced Christianity because of other political,financial or personal reasons.The converted Chardos were also called Chardos by the Portuguese,so in order to distinguish between the Hindu and the Roman Catholic converts,the Hindu Charods started calling themselves Marathas. The precise etymology of the word Chardo is unknown. The most probable explanation given by historian B.D. Satoskar is that the Konkani word comes from the Sanskrit word Chatur-rathi or the Prakrit Chau-radi, which literally means "the ones who ride a chariot yoked with four horses".
The Konkan Maratha people primarily speak Konkani, and also Marathi for formal communication. They partake non vegetarian diet.Parboiled rice with various kinds of curries made of fish known as kadi and Gaalne is their staple food. Pej with vegetable or fish preparation is preferred traditional breakfast. Their traditional attire is similar to the Marathas of Maharashtra. They strictly follow clan exogamy,and alliances are also arranged with Marathas of Maharashtra and Karnataka mostly from Konkan parts. They also arrange alliances with other Dwija caste Konkanis like Saraswat Brahmins and Konkan Vani but avoid with other tribes and lower class including Daivajna Brahmin/Sonars(due to their Vamachara/left-hand ritual background). Thread ceremony (Upanayana) is not performed until right before marriage day even though they claim Kshatriya status, due to following reasons :
- During the medieval times, extreme hardship fell on most of the Kshatriya clans from Deccan plateau as Muslim rulers (after the fall of Yadavas/Jadhavs of Deogiri) took over administrative and revenue rights. Unlike Brahmins, who could maintain their own lineage records and ritual practises due to their Vedic training, Kshatriyas relied heavily on Brahmin priests or Jain/Buddhist monasteries to maintains their lineage records and ritual sophistication. This came at a very high financial overhead of paying huge sums to the Brahmins/Monasteries (which is why Buddhist/ Jain Monasteries declined in Deccan during this period due to lack of Kshatriya patronage). Once they had lost their revenue rights and were forced to take ordinary tilling or mercenary jobs, they simply didn't have the resources to enlist regular Brahmins service.
- Kshatriya clans throughout India always experienced extreme high and lows due to the nature of their profession( which was power politics). Unlike them, the Brahmins led a relatively sheltered existence as they continued to enjoy and retain their ministerial/clerical rights even under Islamic rulers thus managing to maintain their ritual and lineage information. Kshatriya clans(Rajputs and Marathas) on the other hand had to go into hiding until the political situation cooled and then gradually began re-climbing the military ladder via the position of menial troop captains(Naiks) gradually reaching the levels of Dalvais(Dalvi), Jagirdar,etc. by the 16th Century. In the meanwhile, during their upheaval they lost their in-depth lineage records and only retained word-of-mouth tales/legends. But luckily for the Northern Rajputs the Brahmins communities there(Pancha Gauda Brahmins) themselves weren't as ritualistically demanding and learned as their South Indian(Pancha-Dravida Brahmins) counterparts and hence were easily accorded Kshatriyahood via the Mount Abu legend.
- As the medieval Hindu communities believed ritual thread is a commitment of life as per vedic norms, only if one is committed to practice the vedic norms at the highest level without any darmic and karmic violations should perform the thread ceremony otherwise it should be avoided.
Their common titles include Khalwadekar, Naik, Ayare, Gaonkar,Dessai/Desai, Phal, Parab, Rane, Dalvi, parab, Bagwe, Pawar, Thakur, Shinde, Kadams, Khanvilkar, Salunke, Sail, Aigal, Rane, Kadam, Shet, Bhagat, Gauns, Prabhu, Rajeshirke in Karwar district. The members of this community with native from Goa prefer to call themselves as Kshatriya Marathas and are commonly known as Dessai/Desais and Ranes in South and North Goa respectively.May use titles like Phal, Shet, Raut, Prabhu, Naik, Gauns and Sar followed by appellation Dessai/Desai.
- Maratha Empire
- List of Maratha dynasties and states
- People of the Konkan Division#Marathas
- Gomes, Olivinho (1987). "Village Goa: a study of Goan social structure and change". S. Chand..