Konkani people

Konkani people

ethnic group
group = Konkani people
Konknni Lok
कोंकणी लोक, ಕೊಂಕ್ಣಿ ಲೊಕ್

poptime = 7.6 million (approx)
popplace = Primary populations in:

Populations in:
*United Kingdom
*United States
*Arab States

langs = Konkani
rels = Hinduism, Islam, Christianity| related = Indo-Aryans, Dravidians, Siddis

Konkani people form an ethnic group mainly found in the Konkan Coast of western India who speak the Konkani language natively.

The word "Konkani" derives from "kum", meaning 'Mother Earth' and "kana", meaning 'piece/part' thereby meaning a strip of land along the western Indian coast beyond the Western Ghat mountains called as Konkan. The language they speak as well as the people itself take the name from the region where it originated.

The Konkani people primarily speak Konkani although a very high percentage are bilingual. This is because Konkanis are spread out across the western coast of India,and dwell in areas where they have to interact with other people on a daily basis. They can be found in the Konkan Division, Goa, Canara and small pockets in Kerala.


The Konkanis are Indo-Aryans who first settled in the Saraswati River basin between the Indus river system and the Gangetic river system. When the river started drying, up they migrated to various places, some to Kashmir, Rajasthan etc. Some came to settle in the region known as Konkan (which at that time referred to the entire western coast of India), particularly in and around Goa.

According to religious belief, the warrior-sage Parashurama threw his axe in the sea and the sea withdrew to the point where the axe fell. This reclaimed strip of land was called

It is possible that the new settlers came in contact with the Kukna(Kokna) tribe who may have been the original inhabitants of the region (now this tribe is found in North Maharashtra and South Gujarat). They picked up the language which became known as Konkani. The name was also applied to the people settled there.

The settlers quickly prospered and became cultivators and traders. Many migrated to other areas for trade such as Ratnagiri and Salcette (the island in North Mumbai) and further south to Tuluva-desh and Kerala.

In areas such as Chaul, Kalyan, Malwan, Honnavar and Bhatkal, Arab settlements were founded comprising of sailors and traders, sometimes consisting of refugees from Arab lands. These settlers intermarried with the locals and picked up the language, mixing Islamic practices with local customs.

The community grew in relative peace till the advent of the Bahamani kingdoms. Goa changed hands between Hindu and Muslim rulers frequently; which saw the locals migrating to other areas, during wars.

The arrival of the Portuguese further complicated the scenario. After capturing Goa(and later, large portions of the western coast of India), their first action was to massacre the Muslims in Goa. They set about aggressively spreading Christianity often using coercion and caused a large number of Hindus to flee their territories. Their frequent wars with the Sultan of Bijapur on one side and the Maratha Empire on the other, combined with their repressive policies on religion caused the Goans, alternately Hindus and Christians to flee in large numbers. Hindus fled in large numbers to Canara and Malwan and interior areas such as Belgaum and Dharwad while Christians fled to Canara, particularly Mangalore.

These spread out communities grew in isolation from their homeland and from each other each developing a unique set of rituals, customs and dialects.

A tragic blow to Christian Konkanis came in the form of Tipu's crushing slavery of the Canarese Christians.This was from a fear of the Konkani Christians siding with the English their co-religionists and hence a fear of them possibly being traitorous. An estimated 60,000 - 80,000 Christians were kept in captivity at Srirangapatnam for 15 years. Those who converted were assimilated into the local population and formed soldiers in his army, while the rest were tortured or put to hard labour. Most ended up dying due to epidemics and torture. After Tipu's death only 10,000 came back to Canara without any resources left to their disposal.


A person speaking the Konkani Language is called as a "Konkani" (कोंकणी, IAST: koṃkaṇī). Commonly used variations of the name include: "Konknni" (IAST: koṃkṇī), "Kokni" (IAST: koknī) (used among Marathi speakers and Konkani Muslims of coastal Maharashtra) and "Kongni" (IAST: koṃgṇī) (used in Mangalorean Christian dialects).

In Konkani, the masculine form used is "Konknno" (Devanagiri: कोकंणॉ) (IAST: koṃkṇo) (alt:Kongnno) and feminine form is "Konknnem" (IAST: koṃkṇe). The plural form is "Konknne" or "Konknni". Saraswat Brahmins have an endonym of "Amchigello / Amchigelli" (Devnagri: आमचीगॆल्लॉ / आमचीगॆल्ली ). This literally means : "Our tongue" or "People speaking our tongue" (Saraswat Konkani).

Konkanis today

The Konkani community, however, rebounds from every setback. With the end of the British and Portuguese Empires in India, the community has made significant strides. Konkanis are well educated and mostly financially well-off.

A large section of the community works in the banking sector, given their background in trade and commerce. However, the community has diversified into various professions and made a name for itself in the industrial, technical and medical fields. A high percentage of Konkanis are now engaged in tertiary occupations as compared to other communities.

A large number migrated to Mumbai and other large cities after Independence. Today, nearly half of the Konkanis can be found outside India, particularly the Arab states and Anglosphere, either as naturalized citizens or expatriates.



Konkanis are a very diverse group of people. The diversity is reflected in the religion, geographical spread, origins and dialects. The Konkani people can be split into many categories based on their location, religion and/or origins . The following are the major groups among the Konkanis:

**Chitpavan Brahmins
**Goud Saraswat Brahmins
**Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins
**Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins
**Daivadnya Brahmins
**Karhade Brahmins
**Konkani Lower Castes
**Konkani Muslims (Coastal Maharashtra)
**Navayath Muslims (Bhatkal, Karnataka)
**Goan Catholics
**Canarite Catholics
**Janjira Siddis
**Yellapur Siddis


The Gaud Saraswat Brahmins and the Marathas are the major Hindu Konkani community. Other communities include the the Chitpavan Brahmins, the Daivadnya Brahmins,the Karhades the Bhandaris and other castes. Konkani Hindus are found all along the Konkan coast from Raigad to Mangalore. Some isolated pockets exist in Kerala in Cochin and Calicut. Hindu surnames are derivatives of their profession or are conferred upon them by their Swami or religious head of the community.


Kudubis, also known as Kulubis or Kunubis or Kunbis are a tribe from Goa who migratied to Canara during Portuguese rule. They worship Mallikarjuna whose temple is in Canacona. They were originally warriors. Now they mainly work as labourers in farms although they still hunt wildlife [http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/people/kudubis/index.htm Kamat.com article on Kudubi Tribe] .


The Konkanashtha Marathas are primarily located in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Goa and Karwar in Karnataka. The Marathas of south Konkan in Sindhudurg district speak Malvani which is a dialect of Konkani, while those from Goa, known as Gomantak Marathas speak pure Konkani and those from Karnataka speak the Karwari dialect.

Gaud Saraswat Brahmins

Gaud Saraswat Brahmins are primarily found in south Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka & Kerala.There are considerable Goud Saraswat Brahmins living in Mumbai and other Indian Urban centres too.

Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins

Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins are an offshoot of the GSB community and are mainly found in Canara, the costal region of Karnataka. They have a math at Shirali, Udupi. Chitrapur saraswats often adopt the names of the towns they live in as their last name as compared to their Goan counterparts.

Daivadnya Brahmins

The Daivadnya community is a small Brahmin community scattered in Goa ,coastal Karnataka and coastal Maharashtra,. Daivadnya Brahmins have their own Matha in Karki, Honnavar.


The Bhandaris are the trading community, also known as Vaishyas or "Wanis". They are mostly concentrated in coastal Maharashtra and Goa.

Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins

Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins are also an offshoot of the GSB community and are mainly found in South Canara and Maharastra.This community gets its name from Rajapur in Ratnagiri district. They are allied to Kavale Mutt in Goa.they are the followers of smarta tradition.


Konkani Muslims are found in two main groups and one which is unrelated to each other.

Konkani Muslims

There are large Konkani Muslim communities in Mumbai, Thane, and Ratnagiri. They are descendants of Arab traders and some Hindu converts. Konkani Muslims are heavily involved in the merchant navy, ship-building, and textile industries in India. They predominantly belong to the Sunni Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, unlike North Indian Muslims who generally adhere to the Sunni Hanafi school


"Navayath" are a Muslim community of Bhatkal of coastal Karnataka. They are both descendants of Arab traders and also belong to Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence.


Christians form a major group among Konkanis.They are primarily concentrated in Goa and Mangalore. Most can trace their ancestry to the first converted Christians from the Velhas Conquistas of Old Goa. They primarily have Lusitanian surnames although a few use their former Hindu names either in pen-names or Hyphenated-names.

Goan Catholics

The Goan Catholics were converted by the Portuguese after the conquest of Goa. They belong to diverse castes, and speak different dialects.

Canarite Catholics

Canarite Catholics are descendants of Goan Catholics who fled Goa during the Portuguese-Maratha Wars and the Goan Inquisition. A vey few of them are descendants of local converts to Christianity who were over the time assimilated into Konkani culture. The majority of Canarite Catholics are located around South Canara (Mangalore) and Mangalore Archdiocese and mostly refer to themselves as Mangaloreans or Mangalorean Catholics.


Yellapur Siddis

These Siddis are descendants of african slaves (and african soldiers) of the Portuguese. After the abolishment of slavery, they migrate into the neighboring jungles at Yellapur and Karwar and proceeded to lead a communal existence while retaining the Christian faith and Lusitanian names imparted by the Portuguese.

Janjira Siddis

The Siddis are "Habashi" (an Arabic term for Abbysinia or modern day Ethiopia) pirates who settled near Ratnagiri conducting mainly the slave trade. They quickly organized themselves and gained control of the surrounding territory, becoming mercenaries with soft-ties with the rulers from the hinterland. The Janjira fort in front of Murud was occupied and held by them for a long time. They are Muslims and are found around Ratnagiri and Raigad.

Eminent Konkanis


*Nandan Nilekani - Co-founder, Co- Chairman of Infosys Technologies Ltd.
*Sri. Ammembal Subba Rao Pai - Founder Canara Bank
*Upendra Anant Pai - Founder Syndicate Bank
*Vaman Kudva - Co founder Syndicate Bank
*Vittal Mallya - Founder United Breweries
*Rangappa Kamat - Kamat Group of hotels
*Mahesh N. Kamath - Founder of Shree Laxmipathi Devastanam Trust (Redg)

Entertainment & Culture:

*Reita Faria - first Indian woman to win the Miss World title
*Dev Benegal - Indian filmmaker
*Guru Dutt - Indian filmmaker
*Girish Karnad - noted actor, director, playwright
*Anant Nag - Indian actor, politician
*Shankar Nag - Indian actor, Director(Kannada ,Hindi), politician
*Deepika Padukone - Indian actor
*Francis Newton Souza - Indian modernist painter
*Shenoy Vaman Raghunath Vardhe Valavalikar - also known as "Shenoy Goembab", noted scholar considered to be the father of modern Konkani literature [http://www.konkaniworld.com/eminents/index.asp?id=6&cat=Legends&cat1=LG]
*Remo Fernandes - Indian Pop icon and singer
*Leena Chandavarkar - Indian Film actress
*Rohini Hattangadi - Indian Film actress
*Suman Kalyanpur - Indian playback singer
*Amrita Rao - Indian Film actress
*Ishaa Koppikar - Indian Film actress
*Lata Mangeshkar - The legendary Indian playback singer
*Urmila Matondkar - Indian Film actress
*Shekhar Dinanath Narvekar- Indian filmmaker
*Genelia D'Souza - Indian Film actress
*Madhur Bhandarkar - Indian Film Director
*Anant Pai - Editor Emeritus of Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha


*Abdul Rehman Antulay - MP. Former CM, Maharashtra
*George Fernandes - Indian Union leader and former Defence Minister
*T. M. A. Pai - Educationist, Banker, Huminatarian, Founder of Manipal
*Keith Vaz - British politician and Member of Parliament
*Oscar Fernandes - Union Minister for sports
*Margaret Alva - General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee.
*Dr B.M Pai - Oldest politician in North Canara


*Benegal Rama Rau - First Governor of the Reserve Bank of India
*K. V. Kamath - CEO, ICICI Bank.
*Nandan Nilekani - CEO, Infosys, Indian technology giant
*Victor Menezes - banker and Vice-Chairman of Citigroup
*Vijay Mallya - Chairman, United Breweries/ Kingfisher Airlines


*Frank Moraes - Legend of Indian journalism and editor of Indian Express
*Fareed Zakaria - Editor, Newsweek magazine.
*Dom Moraes - Celebrated Indian poet, writer and journalist
*M. V. Kamath - Indian Journalist, Editor and Columnist


*Abbe Faria - Pioneer in the study of hypnotism and auto-suggestion
*Joseph Vaz - Apostle of Ceylon
*Dr. Zakir Naik - Scholar of Islam and Comparative religion; PhD/MD
*Makhdoom Ali Mahimi - Sufi Saint of Konkan


* Leander Paes - International tennis star.
* Viren Rasquinha - Indian Hockey team
* Prakash Padukone - Badminton Superstar
* Sunil Gavaskar - world famous Cricketer (Konkani from Vengurla,Konkan region of Maharashtra -originally from Goa)


External links

* [http://www.konkanisammelan.org/ Konkani Sammelan: Biennial event in North America]
* [http://www.kyc2009.com/ Konkani Youth Convention: Biennial event in North America]
* [http://www.rsbnet.com/ Rajapur Saraswat Brahmin Website]
* [http://www.kokaniz.com/history.html History of Konkani Muslims of Costal Maharashtra]
* [http://www.kanarasaraswat.org/ The Kanara Saraswat Association ]
* [http://www.culture.konkani.com/ About the roots of the Konkani speaking Saraswat Brahmin community]
* [http://www.indiacatholic.com/goaandmangolorean.htm History of Mangalorean Konkani Christians]
* [http://www.buwagulf.com/ A Welfare organisation of Konkani Muslim or Kokni Muslim in the Gulf]
* [http://www.daivajna.org Daivajna Community Website]

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