A Goan worth his salt should at least have basic knowledge of the mother tongue
It may be too late in the day but the debate must rage on. Roots can be established by birth, ancestry or domicile. Migration into Goa is not sufficient to acquire roots if the person does not have an affinity to the Goan culture, language and tradition. On the other hand a person can be born and resident outside our State and acquire roots by subscribing to the Goan ethos. Roots can develop in any part of the world, sink deep, traverse the oceans and terminate in the ancestral villages of Goa.
Jesus Christ related the parable of the sower who went out to sow. Some seeds fell by the wayside, some fell on stony ground, some fell among thorns, and they yielded no fruit. But others fell on good ground, established roots and did yield fruit. So too with the present inhabitants of Goa.
There are large numbers of people residing outside the State or abroad, whose ancestors migrated from Goa but they cannot automatically be classed as Goans unless they are proud of their Goan heritage and wear the badge proudly on their sleeves. There are many in this group who class themselves as being Portuguese or Canadian or British etc. They have the choice to consider themselves Goan but in their wisdom choose otherwise. And their decision, we must respect.
There is some truth in the well-worn saying ‘You can take a Goan out of Goa but you cannot take Goa out of a Goan’. How does being Goan manifest itself? Some of the characteristics are diet, language, thought and customs.
Goan food is unique and any Goan will be proud to partake of it. Ask a person what his or her preferred foods are and you will sense their ethnic roots instantly. If they say that they do not like Goan food, can they truly be Goan?
The language question is more difficult to define precisely in this day and age. Globalisation and technology have come with a price but any Goan worth his or her salt should at least have a rudimentary knowledge of the mother tongue.
Goan thought has been characterised by tolerance and understanding of other cultures. Visitors to our shores, whether they be from Mumbai, Manchester or Moscow, have singled out this trait and admire it so much that they want to be part of us. Who can blame them!
Customs evolve with time and the Goan has learned to adapt. Catholic, Hindu and Muslim practices are well blended into our society. We see this in our clothing, in the syllabus at our schools, with our spontaneous exuberance in mutual celebration of religious feasts to name a few.
A true Goan will always root for Goa!
(The writer is a lawyer and social activist)