This Goa vil­lage is root­ing for Croa­tia

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Paul.Fer­nan­des @times­

On Sun­day, lakhs of foot­ball crazy Goans will be glued to their TV sets to watch young and hun­gry Croa­tia take on for­mer champs France in the Fifa World Cup fi­nals in Rus­sia. But at least one lit­tle vil­lage will be firmly on the side of the debu­tants be­cause of a shared history.

Vis­i­tors from Croa­tia came to Gan­daulim, about 4km from Old Goa, in the 16th cen­tury. They may have not dwelled there for long, but the re­stored church of Sao Braz that they built be­side Cum­bar­jua canal is a re­minder of that stay in this small river­side set­tle­ment of about 200 in­hab­i­tants.

It was quite by chance that Croa­t­ian In­dol­o­gist Zdravka Matišic dis­cov­ered a ref­er­ence to her coun­try’s Goa links while study­ing San­skrit in India. Matišic car­ried out fur­ther re­search in the state’s ar­chives. The grand sight of the church of Sao Braz—a much smaller ver­sion of Sveti Vlaho church in Dubrovnik, Croa­tia—silho- uet­ted against a blue sky is said to have filled her with joy. But she was dis­ap­pointed to find the river­side en­trance to the church styled like the arch on Dubrovnik har­bour in ru­ins. The PWD had razed it to al­low ve­hi­cles to reach the ferry point at the canal 20 years ago.

On April 1, 1999, the first of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tion from Croa­tia ar­rived in Gan­daulim to ex­plore the links. The 15-mem­ber par­lia­men­tary del­e­ga­tion was ac­com­pa­nied by Croa­t­ian en­voy to India Zo­ran An­dric.

His­to­ri­ans think the Por­tuguese may have brought Croa­t­ians to build ships—their ex­per­tise in this field was re­spected—or they may have ar­rived in the vil­lage of Gan­daulim, then a teem­ing Old Goa sub­urb, as mer­chants. Por­tuguese writer Gomes Catao, in his book, refers to a pop­u­la­tion of 12,000 dur­ing its glory days. Rich Gan­daulim women were taken in palan­quins by slaves to Sao Braz church, he writes. Some Croa­t­ians think they may have been Dubrovnik ladies.

GOATIA! The Church of Sao Braz was built at Gan­daulim by Croa­t­ians who came to Goa in the 16th cen­tury. It was re­stored with Croa­t­ian help

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