Anglo Indians in Kochi
The cultural uniqueness of Kochi will be incomplete without mentioning the Anglo-Indians, even though they are a minority now. Anglo-Indians, who are of mixed descent - British or European and Indian, were formally known as Eurasians. Culturally people in this community are English speaking Christian with more western rather than Indian ways. The Anglo Indians in Kerala are known in several names like Feringhee, Eurasians, Luso Indians and Chattakaran. While, among the two subgroups of Anglo Indians in Kerala, the Tangasserry sect of Kollan claiming the British origin, Cochin sect is under the Portuguese origin. The latter group covers the regions Edakochi, Palluruthi, Vallarpadam and Mulavukavu.
History of the CommunityAs a constitutionally recognized community, the Anglo-Indians in Cochin have their own historic tradition of origin and growth, which is interesting to observe. The root of Eurasion Luso-Indian communities in Cochin goes back to 1498, when famed Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama reached Kerala searching for spices. With the visit of Pedro Alvares Carbal in 1500, the Portuguese realize that Cochin is an ideal place for trade and they slowly launched a factory at Cochin along with Cannanore and Quilon. Later the Luso-Indian families settled together here with their cattle, carpentry workshop, smithy, shoe making, tailoring and baking etc. Fort Emmanuel (Portuguese fort) is a standing monument of Portuguese power in India.
However, the situation was changed with the Dutch Invasion of Kerals. The Dutch not only destroyed the educational institutions and burnt the renowned library, but also also disturbed the very social, religious and cultural life of Luso-Indians in Cochi. The decline of Portuguese power in Kerala started with the surrender of Portuguese at Cochin in 1663 and the As a result of Dutch invasion and the consequent inter-marriages with the Dutch and the British people, the Luso-Indians became more ‘European and thereby started to be termed as Eurasian.
Current ScenarioKochi is the platform center of Anglo Indians and they were the major European strategic points during the colonial era. But, the population of Anglo-Indian is on decline now because they largely migrate to Canada, Australia and other European countries. Even though Anglo-Indians in Cochin traditionally maintain a western kind of dressing pattern and food culture including wine and non-vegetarian dishes most of them know to speak Malayalam and many people registered Malayalam as their mother tongue.
The Anglo-Indian community at Edakochi can be considered as one of the largest settlements at Cochin. The European decedents, who settled here, established themselves prominently in all spheres. Frank Anthony Anglo Indian School (Now known as Pauline Victors Mendez Memorial Anglo-Indian School), which started at Edakochi in 1945, is one of the largest Anglo-Indian educational centers in Kerala.
The other Anglo-Indian settlement in Kochi is at Kadukkutty and they are originated from the Portuguese. Even though their social functions and other cultural functions like burial, baptism and marriage etc. are based on Portuguese traditions, they are influenced by Indians largely in their living style. You can see the Anglo-Indian women, who wear ‘Kabaya’ (A long two-piece dress) or European type dress, here.
Fort Cochin, which is one of the earliest Portuguese settlements in India, is known as the cradle of the Eurasian culture. This area has a history of more than 500 years of European connection. If Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut in 1498, Pedro Alvares Cabral, who was the second Portuguese man that came to Kerala, landed in Cochin in 1500. Vasco da Gama was buried in the St. Francis Church at Fort Cochin. The 500 years old Santa Cruz Bascilica, the Dutch Palace, Vasco da Gama Square, the Albuquerque jetty the European style of bungalows and the streets still bear the European names are the other attractions that mark the presence of Anglo Indians in Kochi.
Vallarpadam, where the Portuguese established the ‘Church of our Lady of Ransom’ has its own significance in the history of Anglo-Indians in Cochin and Kerala. St. Antony Anglo-Indian L.P School, which was started in 1945 and functioning under the supervision of Central Board of Anglo-Indian Education, is also located here.
The several monuments that shows light to the history of European colonial period and the culture of Anglo-Indian community are the major tourist attractions in Kochi and people from various corners of the world visit here to experience this cultural specialties here.