This website is about the GOAN Christian Community of Pakistan. Every Goan has ancestral roots in Goa, India, formerly a Portuguese colony. All Goans of Pakistan are predominantly Catholic. Although the 'Christian Community of Pakistan' has contributed immensely to nation-building; this endeavor is solely dedicated to researching, highlighting and archiving the GOAN community's historical background, cultural heritage, significant achievements and contribution to Pakistan, before and after independence.

 
KURRACHEE (OR KARACHI)
by Patrick P. de Sousa


Did the subject raise any eyebrows? Yes, that was the original name of Karachi, my birthplace, in the Sindh Province, and considered to be the cleanest city in Asia. It was in those hey days of undivided India, the British Raj, where there was true respect for the law and uniform and equitable application thereof.

Of course, the Britishers received their royal treatment, but that is the largesse of royalty!

I asked several common folks (those without any political aspirations or agenda) after partition, as to whether they thought the new "Independence" had bettered their lot and received the same answer, that they would have preferred a status quo, i.e., undivided India under the British, where they perceived offered greater equity and fair play.


It was in my early teens that Jinnah and Nehru had each carved their niche, Muslims getting what is now known as Pakistan, including Bangla Desh, formerly East Pakistan, and Hindus the rest. The minorities, i.e., Christians, Jews and Buddhists had to fend for themselves and were assimilated within the majority infrastructure.

Of course, East Pakistan (Bangla Desh) is now history, and the future is, and always shall be a mystery.

Karachi had a sizable Goan population. A majority of them lived in Saddar (previously known as Camp) and St. Patrick's Church (now Cathedral), had a magnificent marblestone Christ the King Monument which was an outstanding landmark with a commanding view from across the length and breadth of that prominent Clarke Street. To the right of the church was St. Joseph's Convent School for girls and to the left was St. Patrick's High School for boys. Of course, most of the street names have since changed.

St. Patrick's High School, which was my alma mater, had an outstanding reputation for being one of the best schools for boys. There was strict discipline -- no sparing the rod to spoil the child. St. Lawrence's School, Cincinnatus Town, in which area our house was located, then taught only up through the elementary grades. There were also several other Parish schools.

Goans also lived in Cant. Area near the railway station, Keamari (the sea port), Manora Island, Depot Lines, Soldier Bazaar and Cincinnatus Town. The Catholic Colony 1 and 2 were new developments and considered to be in the outskirts of the city. After partition, the sprawling city put our Catholic Colony No. 1 home in the heart of Karachi.

Many streets were named after Goans, such as Britto Road, DeAbreu Road, and D'Cruz Lane. Goans held top positions in the Customs, Municipality, Police and Government Offices. They were also Judges, Magistrates, lawyers, doctors, businessmen, and a Mayor.

The unique Goan tradition of forming Clubs flourished in Saddar, where one could find clubs from most Goan villages all along one street. Here, mostly men, could find a reasonable, safe and secure place to live. All these clubs had a prominent altar for individual or group devotion by its Catholic members.

During the feast of Christ the King, the entire Catholic community would gather in St. Patrick's Church. Most Goans in the Saddar area, would light up and decorate their houses along the procession route with religious symbols. The exposed Blessed Sacrament was carried under an elaborate canopy and people knelt in adoration as It processed. A solemn benediction at the Christ  the King Monument concluded this grand annual event preceded by the Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Karachi originally had an amalgam of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees, Amils and Jews. However, the 1947 Partition of India led to the exodus of Hindus and Sikhs and the influx of Muslim refugees or panagirs as they were then referred to.

In front of our house, it was common place to see Hindus being disemboweled, and various other atrocities were committed by both factions within their respective newly acquired boundaries. Our Hindu friends pleaded with us to give them religious objects, or symbols, like The Crucifix or Rosary, to display on their neck-chains, and some even studied our basic prayers.

Many Goans in Karachi cooperated with or shielded their Hindu neighbors during those brutal times.

The cleanest city soon became a quagmire, as mass migration resulted in refugees setting up tents or huts on sidewalks, and the lucky or adventurous ones took over vacant evacuee properties, albeit by force, because possession was considered as good as ownership.

Our house, once considered to be in the suburbs, soon became the hub center, more so after Quaid-e-Azam M. A. Jinnah was buried on the hill directly across our home. It also became the staging ground for demonstrations, protest marches and open hostilities, where many a bloody duel was fought.

Based upon reports I get from relatives and friends in Karachi, the general population is quite pleased and optimistic with the present regime of General Pervez Musharraf. The Chief Executive even recently visited his alma mater, St. Patrick's High School, and mingled freely with the alumni, to the chagrin of his bodyguards.

They see a silver lining in the sky, and my only hope is that whatever is best for us, may come to be. Yes, Pakistan is there to stay, and it is a force to be reckoned with. Their Jawans are true Bahadurs, and there is this martyr spirit or zeal (believing, as they do in One God, Allah) which gives them quadrupled strength.

But, in the final analysis, nothing can bring back the Karachi, or Kurrachee, which I knew. There is only nostalgia that will always flourish and keep those fond OLE times alive in my memory.

On our last visit to Karachi, the metamorphosis was so dramatic, that it was hard to comprehend the changes from the old era to the new. Yes, men may come and go, but God's Creation is there to stay.

May the seeds of Catholicism sown by zealous missionaries, and Catholic Goans who freely trickled down from Goa and contributed to the growth of Karachi, grow and prosper through the Grace of God. The converts to Catholicism are, I believe, now the primary mainstay of that heritage.

Pakistan Zindabad.

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