A Home Away From Home – The Goan Kudd

by Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas

During the days of Portuguese rule in Goa, it sometimes became necessary for Goans to migrate to other parts of the world in search of employment, either as a means to bettering their lot or because of lack of suitable options in their homeland. Some of the enterprising folk among these adventurers founded “clubs” in the large cities they visited, including Bombay, Calcutta, Karachi, East Africa, etc.

The club – or kudd in Konkani – served as an inexpensive haven for young men in transit from their native village, as they set out to seek their fortune in the big bad world. Several of these quaint clubs still exist in Bombay, and a handful still survive in other urban centres of Goan settlement. Interestingly, the kudd is exclusively a Goan Christian creation, and membership has always been restricted to males. O E Baptista, who did a study on Goan club-life in Bombay in 1958, considers the following to be the principal objectives of the kudd:

  • To promote unity and mutual assistance among members.
  • To maintain the premises in which the members may reside.
  • To promote, organise and conduct a provident fund for the benefit of the deceased members’ families.
  • To promote, organise and maintain other schemes of mutual benefits for other purposes.
  • To cooperate with other Goan clubs and institutions for the promotion of the social, moral and economic interests of the members.
  • To promote devotion to the religious Patron or Patroness of the village or ward.

The following are the privileges of a member:

  • The right to reside in the club.
  • Participation in the deliberations and activities of the club.
  • Entitlement to the Death Benefit Fund.
  • Entitlement to stand for managing committee elections.
  • Entitlement to loans from the club, subject to the prevalent stipulations.
  • Permission for wife/relation to temporarily reside in the club if the resident member is unwell and in need of assistance.
  • Rent-free accommodation for a stipulated period for resident members’ families on a short visit.

Saligao clubs in Bombay

The Santa Ana Saligao Club was founded in Bombay in 1850 and the Santa Ana Saligao Sports Club was set up later in 1944, by Saligaokars residing in Bombay.

Jose Carneiro, from Donvaddo in Saligao, was the club’s last secretary, and he penned a brief history of the club, in 1992. On August 4, 1992, he handed over this document to me, in my capacity as chairman of the 150th anniversary celebrations of St Anne’s Chapel in Saligao. Jose Carneiro was 82 years old when death unfortunately snatched him away on August 11, 1992. The document was written in Konkani, and as a mark of respect to his memory it was reproduced ipsis verbis in the Souvenir St. Anne Chapel Saligao 1843-1993. I reproduce below an edited version of Jose’s account:

The elders who resided in the Santa Ana Club were in the age range of 70-80 years, and it is they who told Jose the club’s story. According to them, Santa Ana Club was established in 1850. However, others say that the club came into existence soon after the foundation of St Anne’s Chapel in Saligao in 1843.

Three or four Saligao villagers, originally from the same ward as the chapel, served as cooks and butlers in Bombay. They decided that it would be more convenient, as well as cheaper, if they   decided to stay together. As time went by, they came to know of other opportunities for employment and passed on the information to their relatives and friends back home. As more people from their village ward came over, it became imperative to have a bigger house. After an intense search they managed to find a suitable place at Cavel Street near Dhobi Talao in south Bombay and they named it Santa Ana Club.

In 1926, when Jose Carneiro was 15 years old, his father took him to Bombay to complete his schooling there. Jose stayed in the kudd, exercising his right as a member.

Remembering those early days as a teenager in the kudd, Jose stated in his account: The kudd was in Dabul and there were about 25 members then. Besides these there were around 20 others working on ships (tarvotti), who would return to the kudd after their voyages. In 1930 the Santa Ana Club was shifted to “Horta Baixa”. Five years later the club was again shifted to Dhobi Talao, in 1936. There were 60 members now (30 youth and 30 elders), besides sailors and those who worked or cooked in private houses and stayed in the club, totaling to over 100.

There was a manager to run the club. The male warders (capelistas) had the right to reside in the club, but if the wife or a female family member needed to reside too, the male member had to stay as guarantor (fiador) for her.

It was mandatory for all resident members to be in by 8 pm for recitation of the Rosary, and this rule was strictly implemented. The feast of St. Anne was celebrated with solemnity and pomp, preceded by a novena, in which St. Anne’s Rosary was sung. The feast Mass was celebrated in the church. On the feast day all were treated to a sumptuous lunch (Festachem Jevonn) and a dance was held at night. On the octave of the feast day, a Mass was celebrated in St. Anne’s Chapel, Saligao, for the intentions of the club members and it was called “Bomboikaranchem Fest” (Feast of Bombay members of the Club).

Finally, in 1952, the building that housed the club came down, and the members had no place to stay. They began to dwell in clubs of different villages as estrangeiros (strangers). In 1950, much before the club building collapsed, there was a move to purchase a house outright, which would serve as the permanent location for the club. At the same time, all members and their children were to be made life members on payment of a one-time fee of Rs 100. A committee comprising Asuncao D’Souza as president, Bertha Souza as secretary and Jose Carneiro as treasurer was formed for this purpose.

The committee sent a circular to all Saligaokars staying in India, Africa, England, Bahrain and other countries of the Persian Gulf. At that time, a house could be bought for Rs 15-20 thousand. While several overseas donors contributed to this cause, those who resided in the club were not as forthcoming. After a year, the project had to be abandoned and the money was returned to the donors with an apology.

The money of the Fund of Santa Ana Club was sent to St. Anne’s Chapel, Saligao, with the condition that on the eighth day of the feast of St. Anne, a Mass would be celebrated for the intentions of the club members. This mass continues to be celebrated till today.

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