Along the western coastline of India lies the stretch of land called the ‘Konkan Patti’. It is to the heart of this serene landscape, in the region covering the present state of Goa, that the ancient Konkani people trace their origins. Once an agrarian paradise, the peace loving people of this area, like all other peoples of India, belonged to diverse castes and communities. Yet, they were bound by a common tongue: the Konkani language.
By far, the Konkani people form one of the most diverse ethnic denominations of India. Though by numbers very small, adding up to less than one per cent of the country’s population, the Konkani people bear between them over 19 lesser community identities – castes and sub-castes – covering Hindu, Christain and Muslim religions. Among the unique denominations are the Siddhis, who are basically of African origin, but who, upon settling down on Indian soil over 700 years back, have adopted Konkani as their language.
The Konkani language is also a most versatile one, having at present as many as 19 dialectical veriations. Acknowledged to be one of India’s oldest independent languages, Konkani has an interesting history of its own. However greater proliferation of Konkani literature has suffered a severe setback due to hindrance caused by the scattered nature of the Konkani entity.
The rich legacy of an enterprising people
A language, a culture, a way of life; in India’s rich mosaic of linguitic and cultural diversity, Konkani stands out by the distinctiveness of its nature.
The Konkani people were among the first to recognise the importance of education and their contribution to the field has few parallels. It is estimated than nearly 40% of all the schools and educational institutions in the private sector in Karnataka state are founded or managed by people of Konkani origin. Significantly, a good number of these institutions are more than 100 years old.
Among the other fields that the Konkanis have shown up prominently are engineering and technology, information technology, medicine and healthcare, agriculture, jewellery, banking, beedi, hoteliering, cashew processing, trading, commerce and industry, defence, politics and the civil service. In the field of literature, music, dance, theatre, cinema and other perfoming arts too, their contribution has been notable, both at the national and international levels.
Migration and Konkani People
History of Konkani Speaking people is full of struggle and migrations. In the early modern era a series of Migration of Konkani people have been recorded. The first migration occurred during the Portuguese inquisition of Goa during the early years of Portuguese rule. The second wave of migration was during the 1571 war with the Sultan of Bijapur. The third wave of migration happened during the wars of 1683-1740 with the Marathas.