World Portuguese Language Day: These 3 Portuguese inscriptions, document important changes in the course of Goa’s history

On World Portuguese Language Day, let’s take a look at three important pieces of Goa’s history, found in Goa, that are written in the Portuguese language
World Portuguese Language Day: These 3 Portuguese inscriptions, document important changes in the course of Goa’s history
A grave inside the St Augustine Church, Old Goa, with a Portuguese inscription on itGomantak Times

Apart from Konkani, Marathi, Kannada, Hindi, etc, you will also find influences of a foreign language in Goa. That is obvious since the Portuguese ruled Goa for over 450 years, and during this time changes were brought into the governance, judicial and social areas.

In Goa, most of the old records are written in Portuguese and Marathi; there are a few others which are written in Sanskrit, Persian, English, French and Vietnamese. One of the oldest Portuguese records to be found in Goa dates back to the year 1498. Among these, the most important records pertain to village communities, registers of baptism, births and deaths, deeds and wills as well files pertaining to the freedom struggle of Goa.

That apart, you will also come across various terms and terminology (used by people for communicating) finding their origin in the Portuguese language. And, of course, there are places in Goa were many people still speak Portuguese. The language has integrated deeply into Goa’s culture.

In various parts of Goa, you can find inscriptions which are written in Portuguese. Some of the most interesting inscriptions that reveal important historical events are as follows:

1. Inscription on the wall of St Catherine’s Chapel, Old Goa

Among the many chapels, churches and convents of Old Goa, one of the often overlooked chapels is the St Catherine’s Chapel, located close to the Church of St Francis of Assisi, Old Goa. Although the chapel structure is small, it is a relatively important monument. The reason being this inscription which reads in Portuguese: “Aqui nese lugar estava a porta porque entrou o Governador Affonso d’Albuquerque e tomou esta cidade aos mouros em dia de Santa Catharina anno 1510, em cujo louvor e mmeoria o Governador, Jorgo Cabral, mandou faser esta caza anno 1550 á custa de S.A”.

This is a very important inscription for Goa’s history and recalls the day when Old Goa was captured by Afonso de Albuquerque, which was also the feast day of St Catherine. Translated to English, the inscription reads as “Here was the door by which the Governor, Affonso d’ Albuquerque, entered and took this city from the Muhammadans on the day of St Catherine in the year 1510, in whose honour and memory the Governor, George Cabral, ordered this Chapel to be built in the year 1550, at the expense of His Highness” (the King).

Inscription found at St Catherine’s Chapel, Old Goa
Inscription found at St Catherine’s Chapel, Old GoaGomantak Times

2. Viceroys Arch

Arco Dos Vice-reys (the arch of the viceroys) was the entry into the city of Old Goa. The portico, made of black stone, is an interesting site, not to be missed. The inscription, seen in the image, is written on one of the walls of the arch, and states that it was in the year 1599, during the government of Dom Francisco da Gama, the great grandson of Vasco da Gama, that he constructed the arch, perpetuating the name of the famous discoverer of the sea route to India. The inscription commemorates 100 years of the discovery of the sea route to India.

Inscription on the walls of Viceroys arch, Old Goa
Inscription on the walls of Viceroys arch, Old Goa

3. Instrument of Surrender

The ‘Instrument of Surrender’ of Goa and Daman is another important document that mentions the surrender of the armed forces in Goa that took place on December 19, 1961. It was signed by Manuel Antonio Vassalo e Silva, and it reads (in Portuguese) as “Du, General Manuel Antonio Vassalo e Silva, Comandante-Chefe das Forcaş Armandas de Estado Portuguese da India, of ereço a rendiçao incondicional das Forças Armandas de Goa, na minha qualidade de Comandate Chefe Goa, as 20H30 de 19 de Dezembro de 1961.”

It translates into English as “I, General MANUEL ANTONIO VASSALO E SILVA, C-in-C of Armed Forces of the Portuguese State of India, offer in capacity as C-in-C, unconditional surrender of Armed Forces in Goa, at 2030 hours on 19 Dec 1961”. The original copy of this is with the Indian Army’s 2STC office, based in Panjim, and is displayed on the wall. It bears the signatures of Major General KP Candeth, who led Operation Vijay, and is an important piece of history.

Instrument of Surrender at the Indian Army’s 2STC office, Panjim
Instrument of Surrender at the Indian Army’s 2STC office, PanjimPICTURE COURTESY: Neeraj Rajput/twitter
A grave inside the St Augustine Church, Old Goa, with a Portuguese inscription on it
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