Amhi Kai retaan? Where do we live?

For centuries, our ancestors have populated the area from Dahanu in the North to Chaul in the South. With an established and quite emphatic presence in Mumbai, Raigad and Vasai, the East Indian diaspora today, has also spread to countries like the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc. in the Middle East, and Canada, the US, the UK, New Zealand and Australia in the West.

I have been fortunate to grow up in the knowledge that no matter which part of Vasai or Bombay I step into, I’ll always find an East Indian or two living there. I look at some of the old churches, bungalows, streets, beaches and railway stations and I know for a fact that an East Indian either owned the land or was instrumental in raising funds or the means to construct important aspects of the city we call Mumbai.

The earliest Christians in the Konkan were converted by St Bartholomew, one of Christ’s apostles, who arrived in Felix (Kalyan) in the 1st Century AD. Records also show that Nestorian Christians lived in Thana in 14th Century AD.

The Portuguese arrival in India and more importantly in the North Konkan in the 16th Century AD brought together the various pockets of Christians living in the region. This is when the religion and society of this section became more defined and structured.

Village cross in Uttan, Dharavi Beth

By the time the British arrived in the 17th Century in Bombay, the East Indian community was well established.

With the formal establishment of the Bombay East Indian Association on 26 May 1887, East Indian music, art, language, food and culture was a vibrant, thriving thing.

Vadval East Indian house in Giriz, Vasai

In his book Trace, Teddy Rodrigues lists the following villages and gaothans that used to be populated by the East Indian people. A handful of these villages still retain elements of East Indian life and culture like the houses, clothing style, languages spoken, etc. and one simply has to step into one of these gaothans or pass by them at a particular date in the East Indian calendar to glimpse at a culture that few from outside of it get to experience.

Note: I’ve highlighted villages that still have crosses/grottoes, architecture, celebrations, groups and the like that are either East Indian built/organised or have a strong East Indian presence. I am certain I have missed several more, in which case, do let me know.

Achola
Agashi
Alldheeya
Ambivili
Anigua
Arem
Arnala
Balliam – Rajoli
Bandarpakadi
Bandouli
Bandra
Barampur
Baroli
Bathodi
Bhaman Wada
Bhamanpuri
Bhandupa
Bhayandar
Bhoiwada
Bhuigaon
Bolinj
Borlem
Byculla
Calmona
Cavel
Char-Kapa
Chaul
Chembur
Chene
Chene Boree
Cherem
Chimcholim
Chinchpokli
Chowk
Chuim
Chulna
Colaba
Culvem
Dadar-Naigaon
Dadur (Dadar)
Deo Talao
Deunare
Dhaisar
Dhakti Sutar Aali (Small Carpentary)
Dhamami
Dhavli
Dinsossim
Dongri (Uttan)
Dongri (Bombay)
Erangal
Esplanade
Gass
Ghoromal
Girgaum
Giriz
Gokhivare
Gomes Aali
Gorai
Goregaon
Gundavali
Irla
Juhu
Kalina
Kalyan
Kandivali
Kanjur
Kashimira
Katemanavli
Kelva-Mahim
Kermeri
Kevni
Khar
Kharodi
Khazan bhat
Khop Wadi
Kinthalwadi
Kirol
Koliwada (Vasai)
Kolovery
Kondivita (Condita)
Kopri Khurd
Korlai
Kumbarwada
Kurla
Madd Wadi
Madh
Magatana
Magdale
Mahim
Malavni
Mandvi
Mani-Boisar
Mani-Mankhurd
Manickpur
Manori
Manul
Marol
Marouli
Marve
Matherpakadi 
Mazagaon
Merces
Merdes
Mogra
Mohili
Morro
Mothi Sutar Aali (Big Carpentary)
Mount Poisur
Mulgaon
Nanbhat
Nandakhal
Nanele
Narpole
Navghar
Navi Khadi
Nirmal
Olam Wadi
Orlem
Oshiwara
Pahadi
Palle-Naigaon
Palli
Pallo
Panvel
Papdy
Parel
Paspoli
Pathan Bunder
Pavelee
Pen
Pimpal Bhat
Poinsur
Pokhran
Popesao
Por Bhat
Powai
Rathodi
Remedy 
Sagar Bhat
Sagarseth
Sahar
Saki
Sanbojapal
Sandor
Santacruz
Satolli
Sewri
Sheeri
Shirlai Wadi
Sion
Sitalzar
Sonar Bhat
Tarapur
Tarauri
Tautoli
Thakurdwar
Thana
Tiranja
Umela
Umerkhadi
Umralle
Uran
Uttan
Vankola
Varoli
Versava (Versova)
Vikholi
Vikhroli
Vile-Parle
Wadala
Wan Bhat
Worli

With the Maharashtra government looking to revitalise and restore Girgaum’s Khotachiwadi, one hopes that the government and heritage enthusiasts look to preserve and nurture more than just the Portuguese-style architecture and aesthetic of many East Indian villages.

Indeed, many East Indian village associations and community groups undertake the organisation and funding of cultural celebrations like Agera (our harvest festival), East Indian Singing Competitions, Intrus (our Carnaval celebrations), naataks (dramatic shows), Aadressao (Feast of Christ the King), inter-village/parish sports competitions, village rosaries and the like.

It is worth noting that more often than not, these are funded entirely by the villagers or associations themselves.

Banner for the Vakola and Kalina Youth Welfare Association’s 2019 Christmas Carnival, placed at one of the entrances to Kalina, Mumbai

Update: For East Indians reading this, I would greatly appreciate your help with populating an East Indian Map of Mumbai, Thane, Raigad and Vasai.

I hope to provide our people and those who wish to visit our spaces with a map that will help them find Church feasts beloved to us, East Indian food, our village squares and Holy Crosses, places to purchase our clothes and wares, and even glimpse at the old houses that grace our villages.

Please note that this map is a work in progress and is available to anyone who wishes to use it for free. All suggestions towards making it more accurate are welcome and can be sent in an email to eastindianmemoryco@gmail.com

View the East Indian Map of Mumbai here.

Posted by

Our aim is to create + document + share quality East Indian art, culture and history with the East Indian community and with the wider world. We are East Indians from Bombay and proud if it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s