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Through the annals of time

Historian Prajal Sakhardande’s new book is a comprehensive look at Goan history right from ancient times to present day, discovers NT BUZZ

CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ

An encyclopaedia on all things history, Prajal Sakhardande is a much referenced and often consulted historian in Goa.

And after previously penning ‘Muslim History and Heritage of Goa’ in 2012 and ‘Matanhy Saldanha -The Legend’ which has been co-authored with Santosh Sawant Wadkar in 2013, Sakhardande has now put his vast knowledge of Goa into his new book ‘Goa Gold Goa Silver Her History Her Heritage – From Earliest Times to 2019’. The book, which has been published by Broadway Publications, is all set to be released on May 13 at Sushegad Village, Veling, Ponda.

Albeit a long name, Sakhardande states that each word in the title has a special significance. “I have used the word ‘gold’ because we are in the post golden jubilee period of Goa’s liberation and also of the Opinion Poll which took place in 1967,” he explains. The word ‘silver has been used because Goa has completed 25 years of Statehood in 2012. The Konkani movement which led to Goa becoming the official language of Goa has also gone past the silver anniversary mark.

“I have ended the book in 2019 with the death of Parrikar because I consider this to be a turning point in the history of Goa,” he reveals.

Presently the Head of the History Department at Dhempe College of Arts and Science, Miramar, Sakhardande also admits that this book has been in the pipeline for a very long time. “I have been working on this book since 2003. Although there have been lots of books on Goan history and culture, these usually tend to focus on a particular topics or event. My book on the other hand covers the entire history of Goa right from ancient to contemporary times,” he states.

Some of the many themes that one can read up on in his book include the Kadamba period, the Adil Shah rule, the Portuguese rule and the conversions, the influence of the Portuguese culture on Goan culture, Goa’s Freedom Struggle, etc. “I have also looked at the first government in Goa led by Dayanand Bandodkar, Goa’s first lady chief minister Shashikala Kakodkar, the Opinion Poll, the Ramponkar movement, the Goa Bachao Abhiyan, the SEZ movement, among other things. The book ends with a curtain call for special status for Goa,” he says. Apart from this, he has also listed out Goan musicians, film directors, the first Goans in the field of sports and much more. “There is also a chapter on the status of women where I have highlighted the contribution of women to various fields,” says Sakhardande.

As mentioned in the title, the book also throws light on Goan heritage, with Sakhardande listing out the monuments that exist in Goa, taluka wise. All of this is in simple language, geared towards getting his students to read the book.

“To me this is a labour of love and has involved a lot of research and consulting of primary and secondary sources. I have consulted newspapers, visited libraries both in Goa and outside, looked through inscriptions, etc,” he says. One of the inscriptions that he looked through was the first inscription of the first king of Goa Devraj Bhoj. “I held it in my hand and it was like a dream come true,” he states.

And writing a history book, according to Sakhardande, “is one of the toughest jobs in the world”. He says: “When writing a history book every word has to be authenticated. You cannot write anything based on your feelings. You have to be objective and balanced. Facts are sacrosanct.”

The toughest part of the book though, he admits, was writing about the religious policy of the Portuguese, which required him to sift through exaggerations and rumours that were there in the material.

Indeed, through his book he has tried to demolish a lot of myths that exist with regards to Goan history, the most common of which is the story of Dona Paula. “In Goa, there is also the belief that every cave is a Pandava cave and that every fort was built by Shivaji. This is not true. Shivaji only built the Betul Fort,” he explains.

The book also talks about heritage conservation. And while Sakhardande acknowledges that there is a growing consciousness about heritage, even among youngsters, at the same, he says, hills and trees are being cut, there are CRZ violations, and monuments are unattended to.

Post the release of the hard copy of the book, Sakhardande also plans to make it available online.

 (The book will be released on May 13 by environmentalist and historian, Rajendra Kerkar. The guest of honour will be historian Parag D Parabo. The venue Sushegad Village will also open to public for the first time on that day)

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