Roots and Connectivity!
history we are invariably fascinated by royal family trees, the
lineage of kings and queens. For hours we pore over the names
of successive Mauryan and Moghul emperors or the Tudor and Stuart
kings of England. Rarely do we wonder though, about our own family
tree, be curious about who were our great-grandparents…
or who are or were our uncles and aunts once removed.
was not so common in the past in Indian society, though there
is no doubt that Indians over the centuries have travelled and
settled down in distant lands. For those of us who believe in
our mythological past, Arjuna’s sacrificial white stallion
for the ‘ashwamedha-yaga’ even travelled all the way
to lands now identified as in South America (similarities in the
Mayan temples with those of ours in South India) – and more
proximate in time, to settle in Malaya-Singapore-Indonesia up
to Fiji in the Pacific, to the islands in the Indian Ocean…
to Africa, British Guiana, most countries in Europe especially
England, and the Americas, Canada and Australia in the more recent
so, back in the old days people lived in close knit villages with
close knit family ties – and they knew members of not only
their own extended families, but also their neighbours and their
relatives in turn. In urban areas too the joint family system
ensured bonding and interaction.
units and migrations galore in recent times have led to fragmentation
and alienation. While most do not know who their second cousins
are, some of us have not had the pleasure of knowing about or
seeing even our first cousins. It is common experience to be encountered
by elderly relatives and community members at weddings and family
functions with exclamations of “Do you know who I am?....tell
me who I am!” To make you wriggle in embarrassment, attempt
wild guesses and finally admit defeat.
Family relationships matter more than we realise, notwithstanding
that famous quote from the cynic: “God gave you your relations.
Thank God He let you choose your friends!” Relationships
give us a sense of continuity; of belonging. Getting to know about
various aunts and uncles and establishing connections at times
gives one a sense of security – not withstanding the fact
that today a poor relative is conveniently ignored; and the art
of claiming relationships is only when the subject you claim relationship
with is a somebody you want your connection with him or her known
around to gain your own importance.
over the past two centuries of their identity as a unique individual
community since the time of their forefathers’ release from
Tippu Sultan’s captivity, have since been quite a close
knit society with alliances and inter-marriages totally within
its own members. And hence resulting in practically no one in
the community being not related or connected to another Mangalorean.
And among Mangaloreans especially till the pre-Independence generations,
everyone knew everyone else, and we all grew up marvelling at
our parents’ ability to instantly place anyone whose name
got mentioned. And so there has always been considerable knowledge
of one’s relationships and connections, even though at times
some of us whose relations left the native town for better prospects
in larger towns of Bombay, Madras and Bangalore, ended up creating
Mangalorean pockets wherever they went. Not all of them always
able to hold on to or keep up with their roots - with people like
me around who have still not met some of our first cousins yet.
And this problem has manifested in larger measure for those who
crossed the seas during the 50s to the 80s to settle abroad and
acquire citizenships there.
heartening trend has emerged in the latter half of the last decade,
with a tremendous surge for a community conscious identity among
youngsters migrated to shores beyond the horizon. This surge,
nudged in no small measure by the efforts of Dr Michael Lobo –
a member of the community. A doctorate in Mathematics, Michael
cast aside his plum professorial assignments in England and Mexico
to take on himself since 1995 the task of compiling the encyclopaedia
of the genealogical history of the Mangalorean Catholic families
– most of whose identities, date back to their original
migrant forefathers from Goa, some even up to the Hindu ancestor
who first embraced Christianity.
I had to visit USA to attend a Pereira wedding in New York –
that of my niece Arema to Rodney George. The highlight of the
occasion was the hovering family feeling thanks to relatives and
connections from all over – India, the Arabian Gulf, UK,
Canada and all of the Americas – who took pains to come.
Almost all known before, some perhaps not met in the last 20,
30, 40 or even 50 years.
contrast, at a second wedding soon after – that of a Mangalorean
Andrade to a white American, ninety percent of Mangaloreans present
I had not met before or known about. Before end of the day however,
it was crazy how not one of them was left unconnected or unknown.
In some form or the other, through direct relationship or marital
connection, everyone’s family found linked with close ties
either to a parent or grandparent, sibling or an in-law! The bulk
of the lot, I found were linked to my maternal grandmother’s
Lobo lineage, references to which in stray conversations overheard
in early childhood were long forgotten memories of a bygone era.
Amazing, we Mangaloreans are, in our inter-connectivity!
October 07, 2005: 950 words: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira:
3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author
www.maxwellperira.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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