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Goa – Influence of Portugal in India

Goa was a part of the Mauryan Empire during the 3rd Century B.C. with successors like the Shillahars, the Kadambas and the Chalukyans ruling over for the next 700 years. Around 1312, the Muslims took over and it became an important port to carry horses to Hapmi through ships.  15th Century witnessed a different turn of events when a new route was found by Vasco Da Gama to India, the Portuguese intelligently captured Goa to control the spice route from the East. Thus, it was the beginning of an era where Christianity was forced to the people of other religious beliefs. Goa remained under Portuguese domination till the late 20th century. It was only after the Indian independence that the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru order military liberation of Goa.

Goan architect LucioMiranda strongly believes that the Portuguese culture has greatly impacted the culture of Goa. One can find the influence in the Konkani language they speak which has many Portuguese words. The people are also observed to be more sophisticated and liberal in mannerism and opinion, that is quite different from the rest of India. It was the first place in the East that met West in its purest form.  The Goan scholars were introduced to the European philosophy that changed their overall take on life.

“The Portuguese have left their impress on the attitude and the lifestyles of the people of Goa and given the place a definite identity of its own.”

Saryu Doshi,  Indian Art scholar

The Portuguese culture impacted various streams in Goa – art, architecture, culture, food, ethnicity, music, and literature, etc. Many objects with Portuguese elements are still seen in Goan churches and convents – the huge structures, dome-shaped windows, arches, tilted roofs and verandahs are decorative and expressive. The European style bungalows have wrought-iron balconies and inner courtyards. In regard to the colors used – only churches and chapels were painted white as this is the color related to purity and sanctity, no private house could be painted white. Not only the Goan Christians but the Goan Hindus also followed this rule.

Western Education reformed the thinking process of the Goans, they understood the scientific aspects of Latin impeccably. In fact, the first printing press in India was brought by the Portuguese.   It initiated the migration of Goans to different places in the world since cross cultural exchanges became easy. The transfer of ideas, technology, nd good was feasible at all ends.

Eating habits were also impacted; beef and pork became an integral part of their daily meal. People also started wearing European clothes, and codes were made mandatory to diminish gender discrimination. Goans also learned to play western instruments and opted for music professionally.

Thus, Goa is unique in various fields and we can say that Goa is a perfect imagery of a city of Portugal with some Eastern influence.

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