Remembering Shenoi Goembab on Vishwa Konkani Dis (World Konkani Day)

Shenoi Goembab

April 9th is the death anniversary of Shenoi Goembab alias Waman Raghunath Shennoi Varde Valaulikar. He is remember as a Konkani revivalist. His work for the language happened during a time when Konkani was considered an inferior language to Portuguese and Marathi. At the time only the lower classes used it for communication and the upper classes either used Portuguese or Marathi to communicate. His death anniversary is aptly celebrated as ‘world Konkani Day’.

Geombab was born on June 23, 1877. He had initially studied in a Marathi medium school and later completed his fourth grade education in Portuguese. He had to discontinue his studies after that and taught himself Sanskrit and English at home.

Goembab moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1893 and continued his studies completing his high school in 1898. He went on to become a teacher in 1899. After finding his job unsatisfactory, he moved to Karachi and worked as a clerk in the Lahore municipality.

Goembab returned to Bombay and got married to Shantabai. He was at the time employed at the Italian consulate based there. Later he joined a Meister Lucius & Bruening, a German company, as a stenographer.

The Germans are said to have left India at the start of World War I. Leaving Goembab in-charge of the company in their absences. Happy with the work he had done, the Germans on their return made him the companies’ secretary.

Due to a falling out, Goembab resigned from the post and spent most of his time in revitalising Konkani and advocated the use of the language. (Konkani language during the early years of Portuguese rule had suffered major set backs and much of the literature was destroyed due to the policies of the time).

Shenoi Goembab in his career as a writer is credited with 22 books written in the Devanagri script and 7 books in Latin script. Some of his major works are considered to be “Albuquerquan Goen Koshem Jiklem” (How Albuquerque Won Goa), “Goenkaaranchi Goianbhaili Vosnook” (Goan migrants outside Goa).

His story, “Mhoji Baa Khuin Gelli?” is considered to be the first modern Konkani short story. “Bhurgianlo Ishtt” is a collection of short stories. He has translated many great works into Konkani which include Bhagavad Gita as “Bhagwantalem Geet”, Shakespeare’s Othello, Hamlet and King Lear. “Mogachen Logn” (Love Marriage) was a translation of Molière’s Le Médecin malgré lui.

He passed away on this day in 1946 in Mumbai. The day, later came to be celebrated as the Vishwa Konkani Dis (World Konkani Day). On Goembab’s 54th death anniversary in 2000, he was posthumously awarded the Millennium award by a Mangalore based Konkani organisation Mandd Sobhann.

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