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Rupesh Samant | PTI | Cacra (Goa) | Sep 3, 2022:: Sanjay Pereira is busy worshipping the idol of Lord Ganesh kept next to the statuette of Our Lady of Vailankanni at his residence and he is not alone in Goa’s Cacra village of fishermen where Catholic legacy and Hindu rituals got merged over time.
For Pereira, there is no difference between praying before Lord Ganesh and Our Lady of Velankanni, a form of the Virgin Mary worshipped by Catholics.
About 50 years ago, residents of Cacra, a fishing hamlet near Panaji, re-converted to Hinduism from Christianity, over a decade after Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule.
Gradually, villagers started changing their Catholic surnames to Hindu ones but the traditions they follow respect both religions.
“We don’t venture for fishing for five days during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival and almost every house in our village has Lord Ganesh idol worshipped at their place,” Periera said.
Ganesh Periera who has changed his surname to Fatarpekar recalls that his family started celebrating the Ganesh festival in 1971.
“We were reconverted to Hinduism after which my father Augustine Pereira brought the idol of Lord Ganesh at home during Ganesh Chaturthi,” recalls 51-year-old Fatarpekar.
Fatarpekar was named as Ganesh in memory of the year his father started celebrating the Ganesh festival.
He said another house in his village started worshipping Lord Ganesh around five years after his father consecrated the idol of the Lord of wisdom and knowledge.
“Now, almost everyone worships Lord Ganesh in every village,” he said.
Cacra, with a population of 450, mainly depends on fishing for survival.
Villagers constructed a temple devoted to “Sateri Rawalnath” in the year 2010 which shares its wall with Holy Cross, where they pray before venturing into the sea with the traditional canoes.
Another resident, Datta Palkar, who is in his 60s, recalls how he changed his name from Jerome Jose Martins. “Many people have changed their names and surnames,” he said.
Goa-based researcher Sunil Palkar recalled that Hindu seer Vinayak Maharaj re-converted several tribals from the villages like Cacra, Nauxim, Chimbel, Santa Cruz, and Taleigao to Hinduism after the coastal state was liberated from the Portuguese in 1961.
“After embracing the Hindu religion again, the people started observing old rituals,” said Palkar.
Ramrao Wagh, a professor from Goa University, stated that several people were reconverted in the late 1960s and 70s, who were called “Nav (neo) Hindus.” He said that surnames like Pereira, Martin, Rosario, Souza, D’Mello, Cabral and Andrade are common in the villages of Cacra, Nauxim, Bambolim, Taleigao, St Cruz and other areas.
Courtesy: R. World.