... And Margao Was Born !
Category : Articles
Location  : Goa

Prajal Sakhardande,
Head of History Department.
Dhempe College,Miramar,Goa

Crowned by the famous 'Monti-dongor" and a beautiful Chapel on it, busy streets, buxom 'nustekanni' selling 'cundayo' (a typical shell-fish speciality of Margao), the historic Lohia Maidan, railway station, a centrally located 'Jardim' (garden), a flourishing commerce, Portuguese style houses and much more make the city of Margao a visitor's delight.

I have always been fascinated by this lovely city. Being born in Margao the city conjures up many childhood memories to me. Margao is a historian's delight. She offers a rich heritage of the colourful cultural facets of Goa. Her Catholic, Hindu and Muslim population have been known all over as a set of hospitable and lovely people who greet you with warmth, amicability and affection.

Bormure'being a Madgaonkar's affectionate greeting. From being the land of monasteries in ancient times to the 18th June Movement of Lohia in the last century, Margao has seen many a historic event. In fact, Goa's struggle for freedom under Lohia's leadership began there. In ancient times, Margao was known as MATH GRAM, which later got corrupted to Madgaon and the Portuguese further corrupted the name to Margao. Mathgram meaning land of five 'maths', which existed in the then village in ancient times. .

The antiquity of Margao dates back to the Paleolithic cave settlements as seen at Aquem. The original inhabitants of Margao who today live on the periphery or suburbs of Margao are the Kunbis and also the Christian Gawdas and the Kharwis who are today seen in Fatorda, Agali, Gogol, Davorlim and Sao Jose deAreal. .

The Konkani that these tribal groups speak is very melodious to the ear with the typical 'Sashtikar* accent. In general the Madgaonkars speak a typical'sashtikar' accent, which is very pleasing to the ear. Mathgram or Madgao was associated with Lord Parashuram's legend and during the Hindu and Mohammadan rule appears to have been considered to be a place of great importance, contends Dr.V T. Gune and he further states that at the time of the Portuguese conquest she was in a flourishing condition and contained many well constructed buildings, the most remarkable of which were the Hindu temples. According to the Hindu traditions, Margao was one of the early seats of Aryan settles of Goa and a saic, earlier the site of the chief math. Margao is well known for the famous Damodar Sal - a temple dedicated to Lord Damodar located at the end of theAbade Faria road. .

According to tradition of the Madgaonkars, every Monday Lord Damodar is supposed to be taking rounds of the city mounted on a horse and all those who pray to him on Monday nights are granted their wishes. My maternal grandmother narrates a tale of His living presence in Margao. Swami Vivekanand paid a visit to the Damodar Sal while in Goa in October 1892 before leaving for Chicago conference. The Portuguese Viceroy Afonsode Albuquerque conquered the island of Tiswadi in 1510 and it was in 1543 that Salcete and Bardez came under the Portuguese rule and naturally Margao thus came under the Portuguese rule in 1543. With the Portuguese rule, the Jesuits introduced Christianity in Margao in about 1564 and the famous Church of Holy Spirit was erected in 1565 by destroying the Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Damodar, which was shifted to Zambaulim in the Quepem taluka. The Church of Holy Spirit was rebuilt in 1675 with ten altars, the main altar being dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Margao was raised to the rank of a town by the royal decree of the Portuguese on 3"' April, 1778.

The historic structures of Margao built during the Portuguese period are the Hospicio (hospital), Muncipal building, Saat Buruzanchemghor of the Silvas at Borda, the centrally located garden, Aquem Pandava Chapel, its Holy Spirit Church Square lined with beautifully Portuguese style homes and also on the Abade Faria road. Other famous historic temples of Margao are the famous Hari Mandir and vltthal Mandir known all over Goa for its Dindi festival, the Damodar sal.
Today Margao is a busy commercial capital of Goa.



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