Chorao Sanctuary

Chorao Sanctuary

Chorao (Konkani: चोडणें Choddnnem, pronounced [cɔːɽɳɛ̃ː]) is an island along the river Mandovi near Panaji, Goa, India.

The island was historically called Chudamani, meaning stunning precious stone in Sanskrit. Local legends tell of the islands emerging from diamonds that were thrown away by Yashoda the mother of Lord Krishna. The Islanders call it Chodan or Chodna. It was the Portuguese who called it Chorao. The Portuguese noblemen found the island a pleasurable place to live and hence the name Ilha dos Fidalgos(Island of Noblemen).

It is believed that 10 families of Goud Saraswat Brahmins were amongst the earliest settlers of this island. The island was said to be a place of learning and said to have a University of Sanskrit. According to the Hindu deities and Temples by Rui Pereira Gomes, the island had ancient temples of Ganesh, Ravalnath, Bhaukadevi, Mallinath, Bhagwati, Devki, Santa-purush, Narayan, Kanteshwar, Chandeshwar and Dadd-sancol and also Vanadevata and Roulu on Caroi Vaddo. When the Portuguese began to forcibly Christianize the Goan islands, many Hindus fled Chudamani and shifted Hindu idols via Mayem to Naroa and Marcela.The main deity Devaki-Krishna and its associated deities of Bhumika Devi, Laxmi Ravalnath, Mallinath, Katyayani, Chodaneshwar and Dhada Shankar were taken to Mayemwadem in Bicholim and then moved to their present location at Marcel. The island was Christianised by the Jesuits as they did the adjoining Islands of Divar and Salcete(Saxti).

On Caroi Vaddo of Chorao there were temples dedicated to goddess Gaja Lakshmi and Ravalnath. The temples were on the banks or river Mandovi and situated in a forest, thus the deity was called as Vanadevata (ref Hindu Temples and Deities, Rui Gomes Pereira)

Chorao constituted of three comunidades.

Chorao – GSB Vangors

Ambelim – GSB and Daivajna Vangors

Caroi- 3 Daivajna Vangors

In 1552, the island of Chorao had a population of 300 Christians out of 3,000 and by this time, also had a small church which was visited by a Jesuit from St. Paul’s every Sunday. In 1557, a marriage ceremony among the Chaudaris (landlords) was defiled by the presence of a Christian in disguise. After two years, this fact became known to the affected party. This time the ceremony was repeated in secret, as by now such rites had been forbidden. The event was unfortunately discovered and the guilty arrested. A village elder among them knowing very well the futility of resistance, told the magistrate, “Take whoever you want. Make all the people Christians.” By the end of 1559, over 1,200 had accepted baptism. The following year, the first bishop from the Jesuit order, Dom Joao Nunes de Baretto set up residence in Chorao, which eventually became a Noviciate.

Most of Chorao’s population converted en masse to Roman Catholicism in mid 1560 as a result of an incident which occurred in neighboring Divar. In July of that year, twenty young men were intercepted as they were headed for the mainland to illegally participate in a Ganesh puja. After spending a few days in prison, they decided to embrace Christianity. This culminated in a general baptism by August 15 and by November, the number of converts had crossed 1,500. In Chorao, the figure for the year reached 1,207 covering almost the entire population.

An edict of 1556 saw all the lands, gardens and immovables like gold and silver of the temples of the islands of Chorao, Divar, Vanxim and Jua move over to the Jesuits. The Gaonkars were warned to do all under this oath, failing which they would forfeit their properties.

A seminary called the Real Colegio de Educacao de Chorao was established in April 1761. A temple of Shri Devaki Krishna Bhumika Mallinath was rebuilt on 11 January 1934.

Amongst the Christian places of worship is the Church of St Bartholemew. The other church is the Church of Our Lady of Grace. Chorao is also home to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.

Hindus and Christians live peacefully today on this island.

Place Categories: SightSeeing and Zoos & WildlifePlace Tags: Wildlife Sanctuaries in Goa

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