Out of Goa

'There is no phenomenon more permanent in the history of mankind than the migration of men from place to place in quest of easier labour and more abundant means of subsistence.' An editor at The Times of London wrote that in 1864, when Europeans were heading en masse to North America. The reason why human beings migrate almost invariably boils down to simple economics. Yet more fascinating are the forces that enable and, indeed, empower certain societies to be particularly migratory, and create a mindset that lends itself to migration.

Goa is a unique laboratory in which to study migration. The Christian community of Goa is almost entirely migration-driven, a phenomenon expressed through its folkloric songs and literature. The Hindu community, on the other hand, until recently migrated only to nearby states to strengthen trade links – and, in earlier times, to escape religious persecution by the Portuguese, who conquered Goa in 1510 and embarked on an evangelising mission. Goa today is said to have one of the most dispersed diasporas in the world, predominantly settled in Canada, UK and the Gulf countries, though clusters can be found in regions as remote as the west coast of Africa, Iceland and Fiji. Interestingly, emigration is still skewed in favour of Catholic Goans, mostly from the south of Goa. Catholicism and a Western lifestyle facilitates an almost seamless assimilation into European and North American societies. The diaspora is now into its third and fourth generation in the UK and already into its second generation in Canada.

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Himal Southasian