Goa – the ultimate tourist destination of India known for its beaches and for the exciting fun that the state has to offer. Goa is also known for its churches. In fact, Goa is often represented by its churches and Christian way of life. For a layman, it would be hard to believe that Goa is anything but a Christian state. What if we told you that Goa has a majority Hindu population, who constitute close to 66% of the state’s population? You’d probably say we lost our minds. But this is a fact. What is portrayed about Goa and what Goa actually is are completely opposite. Goa is as Hindu as any other state of India, but its Hindu essence has systemically been subverted and hidden. But that is now changing.
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With elections approaching, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of Goa is going all-out to reclaim the Hindu nature of Goa. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Goa to celebrate its 60th Independence Day from the Portuguese colonisers, who ushered in with them the most brutal form of Christian extremism to India. PM Modi reminded everyone how, during the Goa inquisition, much of North India had come under a barbaric Mughal rule.
Hindu temples destroyed by Portuguese to be rebuilt:
Goa’s Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Tuesday that the temples destroyed during the Portuguese rule need to be rebuilt in the 60th year of Goa’s liberation. He said, “Some temples that were destroyed during the Portuguese rule were rebuilt by our ancestors and now the government also has helped in beautification of some of these temples — like the Mhalsa temple in Verna. It is among the country’s temples that were destroyed and rebuilt. This is a matter of pride for Goans.”
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He added, “There are more temples that are left to be rebuilt. In the 60th year of liberation, we want to start rebuilding the temples that the Portuguese destroyed. I ask you to once again preserve Hindu Sanskriti and Mandir Sanskriti (Hindu culture and temple culture). I ask you to give us the strength to rebuild these temples.” Sawant was speaking at the inauguration of development infrastructure at Mangueshi in Ponda.
The very next day, Pramod Sawant also said that the state government will develop a spiritual tourism circuit that will enable tourists to visit temples in villages. He said that in order to keep the bhajan tradition alive, music teachers will be roped in to teach bhajan in temples across Goa. “Credit goes to the temples for protecting our culture. Temple committee representatives are working to protect dharma.”
The brutal Christian past of Goa:
The Portuguese landed in Goa in the early 16th century. Goa at that time was a predominantly Hindu territory, inhabited by a small number of Muslims. Initially, the Portuguese were interested only in trade and paid scant attention to proselytization. Yet, by 1559, more than 350 temples had been destroyed and private idol worship was banned.
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However, the Goa Inquisition began only in 1560. One of the first acts of the inquisition was the banning of open display of Hindu faith. Construction of Hindu temples was forbidden, and as was their maintenance. Restrictions were put on Hindu marriages, rites, rituals, and even cremation. Wearing of the sacred thread was outlawed, as was the planting of Tulsi plant in the courtyard.
Upper caste Hindus were forbidden from riding the palanquins or on horsebacks. Hindu landowners could not employ Christian farmhands. All attempts were made by the Portuguese to induce natives to convert. These included forcible abduction of orphans and forced lessons on Christianity to all over 15 years of age. Additionally, Portuguese soldiers would enter villages and throw pieces of beef on passers-by, thereby rendering people outcast from Hinduism, forcing them to become Christians. Also, the Konkani language was banned.
All new converts had to adopt Portuguese names and learn Portuguese language. The inquisition also severely punished those who failed to meet Christianity’s dogmas. Thousands of natives as well as converts were burnt at the stake during Auto-da-fe, and many more were tortured by the inquisition in its dungeons. The exact number of how many perished at the hands of the execrable Goa inquisition has never been ascertained.
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The Hindu identity of Goa is finally being restored. After the BJP government in Goa completes its campaign to build back temples and promote Indic culture in the state, Goa will no longer be viewed from the Christian spectacle, and people will flock to the revamped tourist destination for its temples as well.