From June 24, the Institute of Konkani at the St Aloysius (Autonomous) College, Mangalore will operate from a new office on first floor of the Red Building in the high school premises.
One of the prestigious institutions of SAC, the Konkani Institute, stands out for its unique history and the track record it has registered in the development of Konkani language and literature, an Indo-Aryan language spoken by over 5 million people in India and written in five different scripts, namely, Romi, Devnagari, Kannada, Perso-Arabic and Malayalam.
Having and nurturing the Konkani Institute is like a second nature to this great college - now autonomous -, the seeds of this language having been sown by Fr Angelo Savario Maffei SJ way back in 1878 when the first batch of Jesuits landed in Mangalore and started the St Aloysius College in 1880.
Fr Maffei was no linguist. Leave alone the local lingo, even English language was alien to him. Perhaps he did not consider learning to read and write English was a challenge by any standards but he took up the study of the language of the locals very seriously.
And that language was Konkani!
Within a short span of time, Fr Maffei not only learnt to speak Konkani but in 1882 he prepared a Konkani grammar handbook and got it printed too. Further he prepared a lexicon Konkani-English, English-Konkani. So valuable was this work that the erstwhile government of Madras got it printed at its own cost and in 1892, the revised edition of Konkani grammar was printed and published by the Codialbail Press.
Eventually, Fr Maffei became the rector and principal of St Aloysius College and kept the love of Konkani aflame.
In the centenary year of the college, 1980, a unique gift was given to the Konkanis of Mangalore – The Konkani Institute of St Aloysius College, thus giving a new lease of life to Konkani. Fr Herbert Noronha SJ was the first director of the Institute.
As the first step towards the propagation, development and preservation of the language, an exclusive Konkani library was established which has now grown to a strength of nine thousand books, besides a thousand bound volumes of various Konkani periodicals.
A proud possession of the library is a handwritten copy of Krista Puran by Fr Thomas Stephens, written in 1614.
“Amar Konkani”, a bi-annual Konkani research journal was started in 1981 under the editorship of V J P Saldanha (Khadaap), now deceased. The journal has published 57 issues to date in two scripts of Konkani, namely, Kannada and Devnagari. At present, Konkani litterateur Edwin J F DSouza, who is also the executive director of the Konkani Institute, is the editor.
Fr Joseph Rodrigues SJ is the patron of the Institute with Fr Swebert D’Silva SJ as the director.
Post-graduate Diploma Studies in Konkani:
What started off as a yearlong, four-module diploma course in study of Konkani language, literature and culture culminated, within a span of three years, into a full-fledged, two-year, nine subject Post-graduate Diploma Course which is thrown open to all Konkani enthusiasts, who have completed their Pre-University studies, in India and overseas by nature of its being a ‘distance education’ (postal-correspondence) course. This was in 1997. Till now over 500 students have obtained the Diploma. The first convocation was held on September 2, 2000.
The Konkani Institute is now in the renovated office in the “Red Building” on the SAC High School grounds and could be contacted on: 0824-2449700/1 Extn: 112
or Edwin J F DSouza, executive director: + 91 98450 83148