My family has lived for generations in a village called Calata, with which Majorda and Utorda constitutes one Village Panchayat and previously formed the Parish of Mae de Deus. Utorda is now the separate parish of Our Lady of Lourdes. The etymology of my village, is clearly apparent, if one looks at the original Konkani names, Khala’ta, Maz’odde and Utor’de.The three villages until 1588, had Maha mai (great mother) as the presiding deity and the temple was dedicated to her. In that year, the entire village embraced Christianity, the temple was demolished and a church built in its place, dedicated to Mae de Deus (Mother of God). It was much easier for the villagers to replace “Great Mother” with “Mother of God”. The Jesuit priests appear to have been well versed in psychology. The Jesuits were in charge of the parish until Marquis de Pombal expelled them towards the end of the eighteenth century. That gave an opportunity to one of my ancestors, to become the first native Parish Priest of the village.
The village to the south had Betal, the pre Hindu god, as the presiding deity. The name of the village Betalbatim is derived from Betal Bhat which means the land of Betal. The church in the village is dedicated to Our Lady of Remedios with a side altar to St.Bartholomeu, one of the apostles, whose novenas are currently in progress. If asked, any parishioner will tell you, it is the feast of Sao Betal. Once again, the Jesuits had done their home work and gave the villagers, Sao Betal, to replace Betal !
Further towards the south, is the village of Benaulim (Banavle). Legend has it, that the Kshatriyas stole Kamdenu, the wish fulfilling cow, owned by the father of Parashuram, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. Aggrieved, Parashuram vowed vengeance and wielding his axe, fought twenty one battles and annihilated the Kshatriyas. He then laid down his axe, took up the bow and shot an arrow from atop the Sayadaris. The sea parted where the arrow fell, and land emerged. The village where the arrow landed came to be known as “Banavle” (place where the arrow fell). Even today the villagers will point out “Kamla Tollem” as the spot where the arrow landed. He settled Brahmins on land that had emerged.
The legend of Parashuram may be based on some real life incident, garnished and embellished over the years. And this conclusion is based on my own observations. Benaulim is the only village in the whole of littoral Salcete, where all the gauncars are Brahmins (now Catholics) without any Kshatriyas among them. In the other villages namely, Utorda, Majorda, Calata, Gonsua, Betalbatim, Gandaulim, Colva, Vanelim, Sernabatim, Cana, Varca, Orlim and Carmona, Cavelossim the gauncars are all Kshatriyas (now Catholics) without any Brahmin among them. According to legend Parashuram, destroyed the kshatriyas and settled Brahmins. The caste composition of coastal villages of Salcete certainly seems to back the legend. Otherwise, why should there be Brahmins only in Benaulim and no Kshatriyas, while Kshatriyas in all the other villages and no Brahmins? There may be a germ of truth in the legend of Parashuram. The matter should be investigated by historians or sociologists. I am keenly interested as I have descended on my mother’s side from those settled by Parashuram in Benaulim and on my father’s side from those whom Parashuram failed to annihilate in Majorda !