This Goa village is rooting for Croatia
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