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THE GREAT MUMBAI CIRCUS… Bombay or Mumbai Belongs to WHO? March 4, 2010

Posted by fredpereira in Uncategorized.

 In the past couple of years many politicians in our country have argued about Bombay and its origin, belonging to the so called Marathis. I think that our politicians need a lecture on History, and that to in detailed, of how, when and where did Bombay come to existence.

I am sure that none of our politicians care about who belongs where as long as they belong to either of the Votes Banks, so I thought to bring some light on the actual origins and existence of Bombay now Mumbai.

Part I

East Indians or East Indian Catholics are a Marathi-speaking, Roman Catholic ethnic group, based in and around the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in the state of Maharashtra.These people are of the original Marathi ethnic group and had been evangelized by the Portuguese, while retaining much of their pre-Christian traditions.

Though It is commonly thought that the origin of Christianity in North Konkan, was due to the proselytizing activities of the Portuguese in the 16th Century. It was, St. Bartholomew, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, who preached in North Konkan. There are indisputable evidences of this fact by the writings of Kosmos Indicopleustes of his having seen in Kalyana a flourishing Christian Community in the 6th Century and of Jordanus, of his having labored among the Christians in Thana and Sopara in the 13th Century. The French Dominican friar Jordanus Catalani of Severac (in south-western France) started evangelizing activities in Thana and Sapora was the first work of Rome in North Konkan. Sopara was an ancient port and an international trading center. The water once extended all the way to Bhayander creek thus making the whole area extending from Arnala to Bhayander an island – referred to as Salsette island. In the time of the Buddha, Sopara, (Ancient Shurparaka), was an important port and a gateway settlement. Perhaps this induced Ashoka to install his edicts there. Sopara is referred in the Old Testament as Ophir, the place from which King Solomon brought gold, Josephus identifies Ophir with Aurea Chersonesus, belonging to India. Septuagint translates Ophir as Sophia, which is Coptic for India. This refers to the ancient city of Soupara or Ouppara on the western coast of India.

It should then come as no surprise that contact with India dates as far back as the days of King Solomon. Pantaneus visited India about AD 180 and there he found a Gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew language, left with the Christians there by St. Barthlomew. This is mentioned by Eusebius, and by Jerome in one of his letters. The finding of a Gospel of Matthew left with the Christians by Bartholomew is very strong evidence to the existence of a Christian community in India in the first century at the time of the visit of St. Bartholomew. It traces the history of the Church in India to the first century. In fact, it is an independent confirmation of the Indian church’s ancient and apostolic origin. Most history of The Indian Church was lost between the 9th and the 14th Century, as Persia went over to the Nestorianism in 800 AD. Since the provision of Church offices and all the apparatus of public worship, was looked to a foreign source; when this foreign aid was withdrawn. the Indian Christians were reduced to “nominal” Christians.

History of Bombay under Portuguese rule (1534-1661)

The whole policy of the Portuguese, who came to India in 1498, was to bring the Indian Christians under their concept of Roman Catholicism. The Bramhins Prabhu and other high-class Hindus who were prudently and ceremoniously converted were treated by the Portuguese with honor and distinction. In stark contrast, was the attitude of the Portuguese to those groups who were engaged in cultivation, fishing and other rural occupations handed down to them by their ancestors. These groups were given neither education, not proper instructions in the dogmas and doctrines of the church. Among the converts the Portuguese made, it cannot be denied that a large number of them were descendants of the Christian Community founded by Apostle St. Bartholomew . But these new converts were not strangers to the old Christians. They were their own people with whom they had been living for centuries. The Portuguese however welded them into one community. Ever since then, this community has remained a separate entity, without becoming one with any of the other Christian community. In certain instances, they were even referred to as “Portuguese Christians”. With the defeat of the Portuguese at the hands of the Marathas and later on the advent of the British, there came a lot of change. In the 1960s, the Archdiocese of Bombay estimated that there were 92,000 East Indians in Bombay out of which 76,000 were in suburban Bombay and 16,000 in urban Bombay.

History of Bombay under British rule and Bombay Presidency

On 11 May 1661, the marriage treaty of Charles II of England and Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal, placed Bombay in the possession of the British Empire, as part of Catherine’s dowry to Charles.From the early days of the East India Company, there were no other Indian Christians in the North Konkan except the East Indian Catholics. Employments that were intended for the Christians, were the monopoly of the East Indians. With development, came in railways and steamship, a boon for the traveling public. And with that came a number of emigrants from Goa which were also known as Portuguese Christians. The British found it expedient to adopt a designation which would distinguish the Christians of North Konkan who were British subjects and the Goan and Mangalorean Catholics who were Portuguese subjects. Accordingly on the occasion of The Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the Christian of North Konkan, who were known as “Portuguese Christians” discarded that name and adopted the designation “East Indian”. By the adoption of the name “East Indian” they wanted to impress upon the British Government of Bombay that they were the earliest Roman Catholic Subjects of the British Crown in this part of India, in as much as Bombay, by its cession in 1661, was the first foothold the British acquired in India. As the children of the soil, they urged on the Government, that they were entitled to certain natural rights and privileges as against the emigrants.

Architecture and Cuisine

The ordinary Koli house comprises a verandah (oil) used for repairing nets or the reception of visitors, a sitting-room (angan) used by the women for their household work, a kitchen, a central apartment, a bed-room, a gods’ room (devaghar), and a detached bath-room.

The East Indian cuisine is a unique blend of Koli, Maharashtrian, and Portuguese cuisine.

Language and Literature

East Indian Catholics speak the Marathi, which they retained as their mother tongue despite the Portuguese influence. The Marathi language is central to the community’s identity. Murphy author of Trans. Bomb. Geog. Soc., 1836–38, Vol. I. mentions the dialect of Marathi spoken by the East Indians of Salsette, Mahim, Matunga and Mazagon, which enters very largely into the language spoken by the Kolis, Bhandaris, Palshes, Prabhus, Panchkalshis, Vadvals. This was probably Konkani. Some of the East-Indian higher families and in the Khatri ward of Thana town village of speak Portuguese.110 Portuguese lexical items are found in Marathi.

Traditions and Festivals

Although, they have preserved their pre-Christian Marathi culture and traditions, many Portuguese and influences have been absorbed. They still retain many of the practises of pre-Christian tradition. East Indian ladies wear ornaments like the Mangalsutra, and Bindi. The East Indians of Vasai also practise the pre-Christian tradition of visiting the Vajrayogini temple every year.

Costumes and Ornaments

The traditional dress for the female is the lugra or kashta saree and for male is a khaki short pant and white banian. A Koli Christian bridegroom usually wears a dilapidated Portuguese Admiral’s uniform, which is specially preserved and lent out on such occasions.

In the olden days, East Indian women wore a blouse and cotton lugra the hind pleats tucked into the waist at the back centre of the legs, while the girls do not make use of the upper portion of the sari covering the head and breast until they are married. This mode of wearing the sari is known as sakacch nesane as opposed to golnesane the round or cylindrical mode of wear. The latter is popular among young girls and women.

Formerly, women among the well-to-do used to wear for the head, like rnuda, rakhadi, kegada, phul, gulabache phul and chandrakora, for the neck, such as thushi, galasari, Putalyachi mal; and tika; for the ears the bugadi, karaba; kudi, kapa and ghuma; for the nose, nath, phuli, moti. Mangalsutras (wedding necklace), made of the black beads being stringed together in different patterns.

Historical Society

There are five broad cultural groups of East Indians —- Kulbis, Samvedi Christians, Koli Christians, Wadvals, Salsette Christians and the urbanized section.

Songs and Music

“ Galen sakhali sonyachi,

Yee pori konachi,

Who’s daughter is this?

Galen sakhali sonyachi,

Yee pori konachi,

Who’s daughter is this?

Yachi aais bhi teacher, Ani bapus bhi teacher,

Her mother is teacher, and father too is a teacher,

Yee pori konachi

Who’s daughter is this?

Yachi aais bhi teacher, Ani bapus bhi teacher,

Her mother is teacher, and father too is a teacher,

Yee pori konachi

Who’s daughter is this?


Part II


The city of Bombay did not exist before the English built it, moving from the Mughal concession of their Surat ‘factory’ (precint or compound) to the isles of Bombay which the Portuguese ceded to them as dowry for the marriage of a Portuguese princess with an English prince.

The Portuguese had conquered it in 1508 A.D. from the Arab Sultanate of Gujarat. The Arabs called it ‘Al Omanis’. The Portuguese renamed it as ‘Bom Bahia’, the ‘Good Bay’, in appreciation of the excellent and deep harbour that it possessed on the east side. This bay is now called the Front Bay, a name given by the English, although, it is nowadays more commonly called the Harbour. (The Gulf on the south-west they called the ‘Back Bay.’)

The English developed Bom Bahia into Bombay.

The name Mumbai on the contrary, is derived from the temple of Mumbadevi, the Goddess Mumba. It is alleged that ‘Mumba’ is a shortening of ‘Maha-Amba,’ the Great Amba, Amba being one of the more famous Hindu goddesses.

However, there is no historical evidence available or offered for the claim that the name Mumbai in any form was ever attached to the territory before the advent of the English.

As a matter of fact, the Arabs had destroyed all the temples on the isles, and the Portuguese did not permit their reconstruction. It was only the English who allowed the reconstruction and building of new temples.

The history of the Mumbadevi temple is interesting and determines the claim of ‘Mumbai.’

According to this history, when the English took over Bom Bahia from the Portuguese, they, in keeping with their mercantilist policy of religious toleration, permitted the Hindus to enter and settle in the isles. A Hindu woman by the name of Mumba who subsequently settled in Bombay built the Mumbadevi temple. At this time, Bombay, like the rest of the former Portuguese territories in its surroundings – the great island of Salcette, the isles of Bandra, (originally Bandorem, ‘the Wharfs’ and never Vandre, as the Marathi colonists claim,) Kurla, Trombay, Dharavi, Vasai (Bassein), Uran, Nhava & Sheva, etc., the ancient cities of Thane, Kalyan and Sopara, had a Christian majority, composed of the Lusitanised descendants of the original Konkani people. The new immigrants, under England’s auspices, were mainly Hindu Maharashtrians, Marathi speakers.

Later, in order to justify themselves, they invented a myth that “the temple is about six centuries old: Mumbaraka, a sadistic giant who frequently plundered the place at the time. Terrorized by these unwelcome visits, the locals pleaded with the god Brahma, Creator of all things to protect them. Brahma then “pulled out of his own body”, an eight armed goddess who vanquished Mumbaraka. Brought to his knees, Mumbaraka implored the goddess to adopt his name and built a temple in her honour. She still stands there, an orange faced goddess on an altar strewn with marigolds: devotees believe that those who seek her divine favour are never disappointed.”

Given the history of the Mumbadevi temple, it is obvious that the claim that ‘Mumbai’ is the original name of the city of Bombay is merely mythurgic: the malicious invention of the Marathi colonists as an instrument of Cultural Genocide, by destroying the original names and replacing them with Maharashtrianised names!

The renaming rests entirely on the Shiv Sena. It is interesting that the Maharashtrians are not fighting to have Pune, the former Poona, be restored to its original Punaka.

As a matter of fact, they brazenly admit that they have no historical proof but that the change stands only on their ‘gamand’ – arrogance.

As such, it is a sacred duty of the Konkani to reject this crime and not co-operate with it. Bombay was illegally renamed, by people who had no authority, as not being it’s people, and as being unhistorical and pure mythology.


Part III


East Indian Community pre wedding ceremony details.


Engagement Ceremony


Sugar Ceremony:

The East Indian Community is steadily loosing count of some cherished customs of marriage. The proposed marriages are practiced by a large section of he community though love marriages are popular. The proposal of marriage usually emanates from the girl’s relatives. After completion of inquiries the acceptance of the proposal is conveyed through a Match Maker. The dowry in the form of gold ornaments, clothes, and other gifts is settled subsequently, no demands are forced upon. Thereafter, Sakhar Puda is arranged and the family relatives join for the function at he boy’s residence. Customarily, the transaction is announced prior to exchange of sugar and cheers between both the parties as a mark of new relation. The Engagement ceremony has been waived in the present economic stress. Traditionally, The East Indians marry with their relations. However, mixed marriages are on the increase.


The Marriage Ceremonies


Marriage celebrations among the community conform to the traditional mode of Ceremonies. The main celebration last for five days. February is the month devoted to general marriages due to occupational leisure. The general rejoicing starts almost from the day the first `Bann’ are announced in th Church. The practice of personal invitation, in Marahi `Avat’, is considered respectable though printed invitations are in fashion. The family relatives are given `Maan’ on the eve of the marriage Marriage needs preparation and the same is attended by a boy and a girl at the Church. Regular marriage preparation programs are arranged by Snehlaya, Bombay.




Thrusday: Mandap…The pendal is erected in front of the house.


Friday: General Preparation


Saturday: At mid-night a torchlight procession of dance and singing for UMBRACHAPANI, wends its way to a village well. They pluck mango branches, drop them in the vessels carried by KARAVLYAS and the water is drawn for the bridal couple’s purificatory bath for Sunday Morning.


Sunday: Wedding


Monday JHETAR…Symptuous dinner specially served to honour all those attended marriage and presented gifts


Wedding Day:


While the bridal couple dress, local wedding folk song are sung. The bridal couple receive blessings form parents and relatives before leaving for the Chruch. Photographs are arranged. Brides party walks in procession to the Church accompanied by a local band or Vajantra. Band is sent to the bride’s house to bring her to the Church. The couple is led by the brother or sister in the procession. Bride and bridegroom walk under the colourful SATIR. Members of the family, relatives and friends join the nuptial mass in the Church. The impressive ceremony of uniting the couplein Holy Matrimony in the form of consent and marriage vows (I DO) take place during mass and Rings are exchanged. The couple leave the Church in procession to the bride’s house.




The wedding party adjourns at Brides residence for a short reception and then retire to a near by UTARGHAR. The couple leaves for photography to the studio and in the meantime invitees gather to wish the couple and raising of the TOAST, the wishing starts and each guest showers a few flower petals or confetties and feed the couple with a pinch of sugar or a piece of date. Then, the good wishes for a happy married life are conveyed with te shaking of hands and a useful gift is presented. The presentation of SARA is a n important and colourful function on the wedding day afternoon and PANCHPOTHNI on the next dat. Reception in the hall is popular now.


Popular East Indian Songs


East Indians have a vairety of songs:


Songs sung at a marriage:


Traditional songs are sung for all the days of the marriage ceremony starting from :Invitation, Sadi-Choli Ceremony, Moya Ceremony, Saivar Ceremony, Leaving for the Church, At the Brides house, Sara, upto to the point that the Couple takes leave of all present for the ceremony.


There is a lot of fun that takes place on all the days of the weddings, some of the songs sung are heard at parties and picnics as well.


Well I hope that this will bring some light to who is who and rather fighting against each other, get together and fight against terrorism, corruption, crime… etc… there are many issues in India which have to be tackled seriously. So lets work together in making Our Country India A Nation To Be Called “INCREDIBLE INDIA”



Courtesy: Wikipedi . http://www.wikipedia.org




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