Read More About Religions in Goa, India.
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Religion & Caste

In a secular state like India, several religions have thrived — and, so is the case with Goa. In Goa, the more important religions followed by its population are: Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists.

Religion & CasteBy and large, Hindus and Christians form more than 95% of the State's population while the other religions comprise the remaining segment of Goa's population. In terms of the Census 1971, the decadal growth rate in 1960-71 and the percentage of each religious community to the total population makes interesting reading .

From the Provisional Population Totals relating to the Census 1991, Goa's growth rate had declined sharply from 26.74% in 1971-81 to 15.96% in 1981-91: this could lead to an inference that the first two leading religious communities and also the third have retained their respective ranks in regard to Goa's total population i.e. Hindus occupying the No. 1 position, followed by Christians and quite some distance below, the Muslims (at the 3rd place) among Goa's 1991 population of 1,168,622 persons.

Religion/Community

Percentage decade growth rate
1960-71

Percentage of each religious community to
total pop: 971

• Total Population

34.77

-

• Hindus

40.41

62.43

• Muslims 

130.06

3.33

• Christians 

20.26

33.97

• Sikhs

--

0.11

• Buddhists

37.57

0.03

• Jains

732.5

0.04

• Religions not stated 

--

0.07

• Others 

60.42

0.02


Schedule caste & Schedule Tribes
According to the Census 1971, out of a total population of 7, 95,120, Goa, had 14, 193 belonging to the Scheduled Castes and 439 as belonging to the Scheduled Tribes.

Out of this group, over 60% of the Scheduled Castes were in the rural areas while the rest were at the urban areas in Goa; insofar as the Scheduled Tribes were concerned, 40% were in the rural areas and 60% has occupied urban areas. Among the Scheduled Tribes, the principal castes found Goa belong to the Bhangi and Chambar castes while there a limited number of persons from the Mahar, Mahyavanshivas Vankar and Mang castes.

Gaudas:
The Gaudas of Goa have been described as the" "aborigines of Goa." Goan Gaudas speak Konkani and belong to the Munda section of the Astroid race — and tradition has it that their ancestors migrated from south-east Asia into Assam, Orissa, Bengal, Malabar and Goa. with regard to colour and features, certain similarities can be found between the Gaudas and the Santals; and, in days gone by, they were palanquin bearers. In 20th century Goa, the Gaudas have taken to agriculture to a very large extent although some have found their way into salt manufacturing — and, as a consequence, are known as 'mith' (salt) Gaudas. It is a belief that most Gaudas do not eat meat and chicken but prefer wild animals and birds.

The Goan Gaudas have three different types of Gaudas viz. Christian Gaudas, Hindu Gaudas and Nava Hindu Gaudas. Goud Gaudas are a caste of landless laboureres, once held as untouchables. The Nava Hindu Gaudas claim that there at one stage Goud Gaudas who, during the 16th century were converted Christianity and, by 1928, were reconverted to Hinduism. The Christian Gaudas are the ones whose ancestors were converted to Christianity by the Portuguese but, even in the 20th century, they believe in Hindu temples, system of 'prasad'. Also, while worshipping before the cross, with floral offerings and candles, the Christian Gauds also perform the 'Tulsi' Puja. In 1928, when about 10,000 Christian Gaudas were re-converted to Hinduism, they found it difficult to assimilate themselves with the Hindu Gaudas and therefore were known as Nava Hindu Gaudas. The Gaudas consider themselves to be the descendant of the Hindu Pauranik, King Bali.

While the houses of the Nava Hindu Gaudas at Chimbel are on a wall-to-wall basis, neatly forming a square, the houses of the Goud Gaudas are of medium size; in the case of the former, their houses have a small square frontage for the performance of religious and cultural functions — these squares often have a cross and a 'Tulsi' Vrindavan'.

Christians form the second largest segment of Goa's population and the bulk of them have their ancestors who had been converted to Christianity in the 16th century when this region came under Portuguese rule. And, like their former rulers, most of the Goan Christians are Roman Catholics and generally speaking most them have Europen surnames (e.g. Saldanha, Fernandes, D'Souza etc.) which their ancestors were given when they were first baptised. The Goan Catholics follow castes which the Hindus observe except for the sub-castes of the Goan Hindus which have fused into one caste viz. 'Mamonn' (Catholic). In the case of the Kshatriya Gaonkar to take another illustration -- and the Vanis, these have been fused to form the caste 'Charddo'; most of the other Hindu castes and sub-castes seem to have been fused into the 'Shudra' caste, including the untouchables of the past. In Goa, caste seems to have entered the system of the Christians, e.g., the superior, Brahmin or Charddo occupies the best and central part of a village. And, in the social arrangement, the 'gaonkar' generally is the dominating caste and this either Bamonn or Charrdo.

A further classification of the Goan Christian society is based on wealth and profession. For example, many Brahmin and Charddo families consider themselves aristocratic on account their owning extensive lands. There are also families who consider themselves ‘aristocratic’ although they may be from shudra caste.


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