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Hello again, everyone! फिर से नमस्ते सब लोग/phir se namaste sab log or, as my Portuguese-speaking friends would say it, Olá de novo gente! That’s right, this week’s blog will be a continuation of where we left off last time: a discussion of the history and legacy of the Portuguese in India. If you missed last week’s blog, you can catch up here.
In 1509, Afonso de Albuquerque became the second Viceroy (or governor) in charge of Portuguese possessions in India; in order to ameliorate continued tensions (तनाव/tanaav, masc. noun) between the Portuguese and the Zamorin and preserve Portuguese interests in Malabar (India’s southwestern coast, which runs from the modern-day states of Karnataka to Kerala; तट/tat, masc. noun; a “coast along the sea” is expressed as समुद्र-तट/samudra tat), Albuquerque signed a treaty with the Zamorin in 1513. Subsequently, Afonso subdued the Bijapur sultans (a Shia Muslim dynasty that ruled Karnataka from 1489 to 1686) with the help of Timmayya (also known as Timoji or Timoja), a pirate of sorts who worked for the Portuguese as well as the Vijayanagara Empire (called the Kingdom of Bisnegar by the Portuguese, this was an empire based in the Deccan Plateau of South India and established in 1336). This enabled Afonso to create a permanent Portuguese settlement in Velha Goa (or Old Goa); not long after, the southern province of Goa became the headquarters of Portuguese India and the home of the viceroy. Besides Goa, you can see traces of Portuguese settlements and culture in Mylapore, a neighborhood in Chennai (Madras), where you can visit the Luz Church, first built in 1516; another church built by the Portuguese in 1522 through the destruction of the Kapaleeswarar Temple, a Shiva temple (मंदिर/mandir, masc. noun), is São Tomé (St. Thomas) church (in the same neighborhood).
After defeating (हराना/haraanaa, verb) and obtaining territory from the Gujarat Sultanate, the Portuguese’s Indian possessions comprised about 62 miles of the Western (पश्चिमी/paschimee, adjective) coast of India from Daman (Damão in Portuguese) to Chaul; the fortress town of Baçaim was responsible for overseeing these northern Portuguese possessions. As Goa became more established as the official seat of Portuguese rule in India, Europeans began to call it the “Rome of the East” and it was bestowed the same governing and administrative rights as Lisbon, the capital (राजधानी/raajdhaani, fem. noun) of Portugal. The Portuguese senate in India communicated with the Portuguese King directly and sent a special representative to his court.
Although once a Portuguese possession, Bombay or Mumbai was given to Britain in 1661 as part of Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza’s dowry (दहेज/dahej, masc. noun) when she wed (शादी करना/shaadi karnaa, verb) Charles II; later, the Marathas seized much of the Northern province in 1739 and incorporated it into their empire (साम्राज्य/saamraajya, masc. noun). Then, in 1843, the Portuguese capital in India shifted to Panjim, which was then named Nova Goa (New Goa), replacing the former capital of Velha Goa (Old Goa).
Subsequent to India’s independence (आज़ादी/aazaadi, fem. noun) in 1947, the Portuguese were the only colonial power that refused to give up its Indian possessions. In 1954, Indian individuals (व्यक्ति/vyakti, masc. noun) and organizations (संगठन/sangathan, masc. noun) such as the “United Front of Goans” and peaceful protestors following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi (also called “satyagrahis” or सत्याग्रही; this word literally means “those who have an insistence on or zeal for the truth” but also refers to non-violent, political protesters or those who practice civil disobedience) tried to assert their rights to the territories, but they were met largely with violence (हिंसा/himsaa, fem. noun) from the Portuguese. Provoked by this brutality, India discontinued its diplomatic relations with Portugal. After a policy of “wait and watch” that was not successful in expelling the Portuguese, the Indian military invaded the Portuguese-held territories of Goa, Daman and Diu in 1961. Faced with India’s superior armed forces, including air and naval aide, the Viceroy of Portuguese India was forced to surrender, a momentous event that signaled an abrupt end to 450 years of Portuguese rule and presence in India. In 1987, Goa finally became the 25th state of the modern Indian nation.
Stay tuned for next week’s third and final blog in this series about different types of Hindi words and the influence of the Portuguese language on Hindi!