Kakra – Oxel – Nauxim : The Nav-Gaudes of Tiswadi
Kakra, Oxel, and Nauxim are three small neighboring communities located on the Western coast of Tiswadi taluka. Above them on the hill stands the Goa University constructed in 1985, and nearby lies the capital city of Panjim.
These villages are primarily inhabited by Shudra and Gauda (tribal)communities whose members perform the traditional occupations of farming, fishing and toddy-tapping. Though directly below Goa's major centre of learning, the communities of Kakra, Oxel, a nd Nauxim are relatively untouched by the modern influences which urban and educational areas tend to encourage.
Kakra is one of these small fishing hamlets of roughly 75 families occupying an area no larger than a single square mile. Located on the coastal sea-face of Tiswadi taluka, Kakra is tucked away at the bottom of hill and is accessed by a single road which passes in front of the village and ends in dead end on its outskirts. There is a small shack converted into a government primary school for about 15 children in the 1st through 4th standards, whose single teacher, Mr.Gurudas Navelkar, teaches through the Marathi medium and provides explanation in Konkani. The government has provided the school with toys, notebooks, puzzles, pens and other learning aids.
Mr. Navelkar is the most educated man in village(probably until the 8th or 10th standard)and has the confidence of the other villagers. He is responsible for holding onto their saved money, birth and marriage certificates, and in giving loans to needy members of the community. Those children who wish to study beyond the 4th standard must then commute by bus to the neighboring town of Santa Cruz.
The village is without a temple and a church, both of which are in Santa cruz or neighboring Oxel. The sarpanch of the village is also located in the Santa Cruz, and thus, disputes are first addressed among the elders of the community. Electricity has been introduced into the village but most still use a common well and practice open air defecation as sanitation infrastructure is absent. The land of Kakra is owned by an absentee Hindu landlord who does not charge the community community rent for inhabiting his land. Women marry around the age of 18 but may become engage d prior to the actual ceremony. Most tend to work in menial jobs or remain at home to care for the home and children. The Goa University, owing to its proximity, employs many individuals from Kakra and other nearby communities to perform the menial and maintenance tasks required by the University. For example, one woman works as a xerox copy aid and another cleans the floors of the classrooms.
The majority of residents within these three neighbouring villages converted to Catholicism during the years of Portuguese rule. Prior to conversion, they were, a relatively poor and backwards community who had came under the Hindu fold by name only, and still practised most of their ancient tribal customs and cultural traditions including the belief in good and evil spirits, ghosts(bhuts), and black magic. (See Goan communities today). However, the Gaudes were never quite able to practice the Christian r eligion as the Portuguese would have liked and they were often criticised for their maintenance of traditional cultural forms including their special dress. In 1928, therefore, with encouragement of a Hindu Swami, many members of the Gaude community re-co nverted back to the Hindu religion during the first calls for Goan independence. Following re-conversion, however, they were not welcomed back into the Hindu fold as they hoped but were compelled to form themselves into a seperate endogamous sub-community of Gaudes.