The Konkanis

Language: Konkani, Religion: Hindu/Christian/Muslim, Population: 4.5 million.

The Konaki people like to trace their history back to 4000 BC. The movement of these tribes to the region of present-day Goa is sometimes traced back to the 11th century AD.

However, well-documented history starts from the time of the Maratha empire in the 15th century. A large fraction of the population now live in the Konkan coastal pockets of the Ratnagiri and Sawantwadi districts of Maharashtra, Goa, and coastal Karnataka and Kerala. These settlements can be dated from the early 16th Century.

During the 14th century rule of the Kings of Gujarat over the islands of Bombay, a people called Naitias first appeared in these islands. They are believed to be Konkanis.

The Siddis are a Konkani people of African origin, who trace their history back to their arrival in India in the 13th century from Ethiopia. A Sidi held the Janjira sea fort during the Maratha-Portuguese wars of the 16th century.

The Doctrina Christi, published in 1622 by the British missionary Fr. Thomas Stephens, was the first book in Konkani. Believed to be the first printed book in an Asian language, this book uses the Roman script. In 1640 Stephens also published Arte da Lingoa Canarim, a Konkani grammar book written in 1580. The Devanagari script was first used in 1675 in a treatise on Ayurveda. The first newspaper in Konkani, O Konkani, was started in 1886. Presently, Konkani also uses the Kannada as well as the Arabic scripts.

Among famous Konkanis one can count Guru Dutt, a famous film-maker, Remo Fernandes a well-known pop-singer, Prakash Padukone, a former Badminton world champion, Julio Riberio, once the chief of Police in Bombay and India's ex-ambassador to Rumania, and Narsing Rao Benegal who helped Ambedkar in drafting the Indian constitution.

© Copyright and disclaimer. Created on Dec 30, 1995; last modified Feb 6, 1999.