GSB SAMAJ OF THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

(A) HISTORY:  Kerala is known to be the Southern-most exodus of Gowda Saraswatha Brahmin Community in the country.  In Kerala, they enjoy the status of a recognized linguistic minority.  This Community has a pretty long history of settlement in Kerala, stretching from Kasargode to Kollam.  Later some of them migrated to the State Capital.  This migration in pursuit of various vocations to Thiruvananthapuram (TVM) which started in trickles, gathered momentum in the 70s with the proliferation of various Central and State Government institutions.  It is estimated that there are about 600 Konkani speaking families settled here.  While in most other places the Community is permanently settled around temples, in the case of TVM they are scattered in different locations of the City.  While the religious and social activities of GSBs were closely connected with their temples, here in TVM, it is because of the social, religious and cultural activities carried out by charitable bodies constituted by GSBs, they were able to preserve their distinct language, culture and tradition.

The State of Kerala came into being on November 1, 1956.   Thiruvanantha-puram or Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, is characterized by its undulating terrain of low coastal hills with wide, clean roads and busy commercial alleys. The City houses several Central and State Government Offices, Organisations and Companies.  It is also a major academic centre and is home to several famous and distinguished educational institutions including the Kerala University and Indian Institute of Space Science & Technology and too many science and technology institutions, the most prominent being the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.  The city also boasts of the first Information Technology Park of its kind and the first Biotechnology Centre, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in India.

Extensive backwaters provide plenty of water resource all and people are well known for their good personal hygiene. At the Southern edge of the City is the internationally known Kovalam beach, which has the picturesque view of paradise.  Thiruvananthapuram City and several other places in the district loom large in ancient tradition, folklore and literature.

(B) IMPORTANT PLACES (TOURIST ATTRACTION): One of the tourist attractions of TVM, the Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple with its seven storey gopuram (tower) soaring majestically upwards, is believed to be one of the 108 shrines sacred to the Vaishnavites in India.  The temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian style of architecture and is in the news from the year 2011 with the discovery of golden treasures of precious jewels and valuables worth more than one lakh crores, stored in six underground vaults located near the sanctum of the temple.  The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a treasure house of ancient works of art, such as sculpture in stone and bronze, mural paintings and wood carvings.

Besides this magnificent temple, TVM offers a great deal more.  There is the Observatory to start with, established over a hundred years ago.  Several kings have also built their palaces in and around TVM, each more impressive than the other.  Despite a few attempts at modernity, TVM retains its discreet, old-world charm.

Another attraction in TVM is the Museum and Sri Chitra Art Gallery with its profusion of gables and turrets.  A repository of fine works of art, the chief attraction here is the 250 year old temple car made for Lord Vishnu, artistically designed and ornamented.  The centerpiece is the large section devoted to the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Besides this, the Indian Section also contains works of Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, K.K. Hebar, miniatures from the Rajput and Mughal schools of painting and the famous Tanjore paintings encrusted with semi-precious stones.  The gallery’s collection also includes paintings from Indonesia, China and Japan.

(C) SOCIAL & CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS:-

(1) THE GOWDA SARASWATHA BRAHMANA MAHASABHA: The Gowda Saraswatha Brahmana Mahasabha-Kerala was initially constituted in 1981 during the All Kerala GSB Convention organized at Calicut with a view to bring about an emotional unity and integrity among the widely scattered members of the GSB Community.  It was also at a time when there was a move by the Kerala Government to enact a legislation thereby to take over the administration and properties of temples belonging to the Community.  Also the cultural heritage and faith in dharma was fast deteriorating due to various reasons and it was to reverse this ominous drift and to restore the glory of GSB Samaj and to bring unity among the members, His Holiness Srimad Sudhindra Thirtha Swamiji of Kashi Math Samsthan founded such an Organisation with more than 130 branches (Gramasabhas) from Kasargod in the North of Kerala upto TVM in the South.  His Holiness is the “Paramadhikari” of the Mahasabha.  

The TVM Unit of the GSB Mahasabha came into existence on 15th August 1986 after formation of the Management Council. Thereafter various programmes were chalked out by the Sabha in order to preserve he cultural and dharmic customs and traditions of GSB Community.  One of the main activities of the Mahasabha is the Sree Sathyanarayana Pooja & the Sammelan being conducted every month, in which members  participate with their families.  In additon, the Sabha also organizes every year festivals/ceremonies such as Deepavali, Ganesh Chathurthi, Krishnashstami, Avani Avittom, etc.  The Mahasabha encourages talents and abilities of children by organizing competitions in connection with its Annual Day celebrations. It also felicitates children who score highest marks in their educational career.

Since its constitution in 1986, the Mahasabha publishses a monthly bulletin (GSB Samachar) in which news on local events including marriages and deaths of our members, matrimonial news, blood donation calls, H.H.Swamiji’s tour programme, important days and monthly programme are included.  The bulletin reaches every household.

The Sabha extends help to poor sick members of the  Community who are undergoing operation/treatment in Medical College/Sree Chitra Tirunal hospitals by arranging free blood donation and also rendering financial assistance.  

With the aimof encouraging young children to speak in Konkani, the Sabha every year organize competitions in Konkani. It also publish in the bulletin news events relating to Konkani developments in addition to printing of some write-up in Konkani.  The Konkani publications, music CDs/cassettes, etc. released in Kerala are being exhibited for sale during the monthly gatherings.

Another wing of GSB Mahasabha is the Surdas Bhajan Mandali which organize bhajans during monthly Pooja and other festivals.

All activities of the Mahasabha are organizzed in the Prayer Hall at 3rd floor of Sree Narasimha Vilas Sloppping Complex which is in the heart of the City near the Government Secretariat.  The prayer hall was handed over exclusively to the GSB Community by the Alleppey Ananthanarayana-puram Thuravoor Thirumala Devaswom, based on a decision of Srimad Sudhindra Thirtha Swamiji of Kashi Math Samsthan in January 1993.

The activities of the Mahasabha are managed by a Management Council consisting of  S/Shri Adv. KG Mohandas Pai (President), V Somanatha Prabhu (Secretry), R Ranga Naik (Treasurer), N Sathish Prabhu (Vice President), Suresh Kumar (Jt. Secretary), S Viswanaatha Nayak (Jt. Treasurer), R Suresh Kamath, N Hari Kumar, P Venkiteswara Shenoy, R Satheesh Kamath, A Naveen Kumar (all Members) & Ratheesh V Bhatt (Purohith). 

Address: TC 26/1586(10), 3rd Floor, Sree Narasimha Vilas, Secretariat South Gate, GPO, TVM-695001.

Website: gsbtrivandrum.org.            Email: gsbtrivandrum@gmail.com

(2) THE SARASWATH ASSOCIATION (KERALA):  This body with members of Konkani speaking Gowda Saraswath Brahmin Community was registered under the Travancore Cochin State, Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Act in 1963.  The activities of the Association really started after its constitution long back in 1936, with the aim of bringing the community members together and to promote a closer social union among them and also to work for the educational, economic, social and cultural advancement of the Community.  In those days, the members were few.  They were mostly students and professionals or Government officials.  The elder members felt the need to bring all the members within the fold of an Association so that the interests of a self-dependant and hard working minority community could be protected and safeguarded.  For a long period, the office of the Association was located at Sree Narasimha Vilas, near Govt. Secretariat, Trivandrum-1, but shifted to its own premises at SCT Building, Kanjirampara, Trivandrujm-30 in the year 2006.

An Endowment in memory of Dr. V. Nagoji Rao, who was one of the architects of the Assocation and who rendered yeoman service for its advancement and progress, was instituted with the Kerala Univsersity by the Association in 1944 for awarding a Gold Medal to the best student of MBBS/Engg. Degree among Gowda Saraswatha Brahmin Community and this Award is being presented every year.  Another Gold medal in memory of late Shri NH Rajkumar, IAS, who was Patron of the Association, was also instituted from the year 2006 for awarding to the GSB students who score highest marks in the B.Tech Engg Examination.

An Health Programme was organised by the Association in 1972 under the leadership of Dr. K.N. Pai, who was Patron of the Association.  Facilities for free consultation and issue of medicine to the members was arranged during this Programme.  Thereafter, in later years medical camps and awareness programmes lead by doctors drawn from the Community were organised by the Association at its premises.  Poor patients from cross sections of other Communities also got benefits of such Medical camps.  The Youth Wing of the Association donates blood to patients undegroing operation in Medical College/Sri Chitra Thirunal/Regional Cancer Centre hospitals.

The Association extends every year financial aid to poor students by way of meeting their examination fees and distributing study materials.  In the recent past a Govt. L.P. School in the locality was selected for free distribution of study materials to all poor and needy students.  The important festivals of the GSB Community are celebrated by the Association every year in which members attend.  This body also organises Cultural gatherings in which entertainment programmes such as Konkani skits, plays, songs, etc. by young talents from the Community are presented.

The Association extend support for any movement for the cause of propagation of Konkani.  Members were deputed to attend various Konkani Conferences organised at State and National levels.  A paper was presented by one of the members in the First All Kerala Konkani Sahithya Sammelan held at Kochi on 14th October 1979. The Association also got opportunities for producing and presenting Konkani songs which were broadcast by All India Radio over its Trivandrum & Alleppey stations.  The first chunk of Konkani songs recorded and presented by the members of the Association was broadcast over A.I.R on 14.10.1982 and thereafter another 6 sets of songs were recorded and ;broadcasdt by A.I.R. on different days.  Konkani programmes presented by the members were also recorded at Trivandrum studios of Doordarshan Kendra and telecast by them on 7.6.1985 and 17..1.1989.  In liaison with Kerala Konkani Academy, Kochi, the Association could arrange screening of a Konkani film “Jana Mana” at Trviandrum on 13.1.1981 for the benefit of Konkani speaking Community of Trivandrum.  

During the visits of National Linguistic Minority Commissioner to Trivandrum, the Association got opportunities to meet and represent the case of Konkani speaking minority community on many occasions. 

After inauguration of the Sudheendra Charitable Trust building at Kanjirampara on 15th January 2006 by Hon. Minister for Labour, Govt. of Kerala, there were hectic of activities in the GSB Hall.  His Highness Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, Head of Travancore Royal family was Chief Guest during the 44th Annual Day celebrations of the Association and on this occasion a few senior citizens from our Community were honoured by the Association, presenting them with a shawl at the hands of High Highness.  A Store with GSB products for sale started functioning in the building.  A GSB Womens’ Convention also took place.  The Association was succnessful in holding a two days Study Camp for the benefit of young Brahmacharies of our Community, giving them opportunities to attend classes on different topics, viz. history, traditions and culture of GSBs, General knowledge & Career development.  Every month the Association organise Sathyanarayana Pooja in addition to ceremonies and festivals. 

There are separate Wings of Women and Youths formed under the banner of Saraswath Association, viz. GSB Womens’ Association and GSB Youth Association with separate office bearers and responsibilities for carrying out the activities chalked out every year. There is also a Wing, viz. Konkani Linguistic Association, functioning for propagation and research of Konkani. 

(3) SUDHEENDRA CHARITABLE TRUST:   The remarkable sense of flexibility exhibited by the Gowda Saraswatha Brahmin Community engaged in almost all professions, in mingling with the social life of Trivandrum and the extent of contribution they have made to the enrichment of the various walks of life are well known.  The yeomen services of Padmasri Dr. K.N. Pai, in the field of medicine rising above all caste, creed and community considerations can never be forgotten.  It is his vision of service to humanity that led to the formation of the Sudheendra Charitable Trust, a public charitable trust, in 1984 by members of the GSB Community in Trivandrum to promote their social, literary, cultural and educational activities.  High Highness the Maharaja of Travvancore Sri Chithira Thirunal and the members of the Kowdiar palace have ewtsended their patronage to the activities of the Trust.  To widen the sphere of activities of the Trust, the necessity to own a building was felt.  A plot of land was purchased by the Trust in 1991 and construction of a building with a Community Hall was completed in 2006 by the liberal contributions made by the members of the Community.   

(4) GOWDA SARASWATHA BRAHMANA KSHEMA SANGHAM:  The activities of the Gowda Saraswatha Brahmana Kshema Sangham commenced with its constitution in 1991, but this body got registered vide Reg.No.893/95 under the Travancore Cochin State Litierary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act only in 1995 with its office at A44, Sreedevi Nagar, Karamana, Trivandrum-695002.

Since its inception,  every year the Kshema Sangham organises monthly meetings with Sathyanarayana Pooja.  It also encourages meritorious children of the Community by felicitating them with mementos during Annual day celebrations.  Free issue of books and school uniform to poor students are also arranged by the Sangham.  It also renders financial assistance including donation of blood by volunteers to the needy patients who undergo operation in different hospitals in Trivandrum.                                                                                    

(D) COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS:

 (1) SREE NARASIMHA VILAS SHOPPING COMPLEX: In olden days, the authorities of Alleppy Ananthanarayanapuram Thuravoor Thirumala Devaswom (AATTD) had to come over to Trivandrum, the erstwhile Travancore State capital in connection with civil suits and appeals filed in the State High Court.  During those days, it was difficult for them to get accommodation in Trivandrum due to lack of convenient lodges and tourist homes.  Due to orthodoxy, they also felt shy of taking food from hotels belonging to other communities.  In order to solve the problem and with a view to accommodate members of Konkani speaking Gowda Saraswath Community, who come to Trivandrum for higher studies, the then Devaswom authorities purchased a suitable plot with a house just adjacent to the Government Secretariat building in the year 1914.

Taking into account the increase in the numbel of members visiting Trivandrum, a two storey building consisting of 12 rooms, to provide accommodation for 28 members was constructeld in the year 1939.  This building was named “Sree Narasimha Vilas”.  Thereafter this place has become a common venue for all the members of the GSB Commuity to gather and meet each other during several functions organised by the charitable bodies.  Members of the Community who come to Trivandrum mainly to join for employment in various Government Departments and other offices including Banks utilised the lodging facilities at Sree Narasimha Vilas.

After demolishing the old building, a four storey building with approximately 10000 sq.ft area for shops and office space was constructed by Devaswoml authorities during the year 1993, in order to get more revenue out of it for running the Administration of Devaswom.  This building was later named as “Sree Narasimha Vilas Shopping Complex”.  Thereafter in 2003, a hall with 3000 sq.ft. area and two guest rooms on the top floor was constructed, which was named as “Dhyan Mandir”.

(2) There are more than dozen other commercial establishments run by GSBs in Trivandrum.  It is seen from the statistics taken a few years ago that majority of these establishments commenced in 1980s. While in 1950-60, only a couple of GSB shops were established, it was in 1980-90s more business concerns came up dealing in different fields.  To mention a few, the following gives a lisdt o these firms/shops which are s;till functioning:

  1. M/s. Raghunath Stores (Estd 1957) – dealers of stationery & general merchandise.
  2. M/s. Kamath Stores (Estd 1960) – dealers of stationery and quality provisions.
  3. Madhusoodhana Bhattar (Chalai) – quality pappadam makers.
  4. M/s. CN Vamana Prabhu (Estd 1978) – dealers of Tyres & Tubes
  5. M/s. GDS Perfumery (Estd 1979) – Manufacture of agarbathies, perkfume compounds and flavours.
  6. M/s. Santha Book Depot (Estd 1980) – dealers of College text books.
  7. M/s. Deepa Stores (Estd 1983) – dealers of stationery and general items.
  8. Dr. VN Rao Memorial Clinic (Estd 1984) – Multi speciality Clinic with facilities for treatment of patients.
  9. Upasana Nursing Home (Estd 1984) – Nursing Home with lab facilities & treatment of patients
  10. CJ Hospital (1985) – OP care, lab tests & minor surgical procedure of patients.
  11. M/s. Wire House (Estd 1986) – Dealers of all types of copper wires and insulating materials.
  12. M/s. Prabhus’ Books (Estd 1987) – Dealers of Text books, Guides, Dictionaries, Reference books, etc.
  13. M/s. Inframe Photographers & Videographers (Estd 1989) – Photography & videography facilities.
  14. M/s Vinod Refrigeration Servicing Centre (Estd 1993) – Maintenance of Airconditioners, Refrigerators, etc.
  15. Sree Venkateswara Lodge (Estd 1997) – Lodging facilities.
  16. M/s. Wire Land (Estd 1997) – Dealers of copper wire, insulation materials and spares.
  17. M/s. Anand Electronics (Estd 2001) – Dealers of CCTV systems, secrutity systems, UPS & inverters.

All the above establishments are located in & around Trivandrum City and there may be a few more involving GSBs set up in Trivandrum or its surrounding places.

CONCLUSION:

It is their mother tongue  Konkani that makes Gowda Saraswatha Brahmins of Trivandrum feel that they are with the brethren in other parts of Kerala and the whole country.  It has helped them to preserve their identity and culture.  Though Trivandrum is migrated with people from various other forward and backward Communities, GSBs are better known as Konkanies among them.  Wherever they settle, GSBs have played an important role for the emotional integration of the country.  The GSBs who lived with honoured credit and great sacrifice attracted other Communities, thereby serving as a model in various fields of activity.

JAI JAI GSB SAMAJ…    JAI JAI KONKANI SAMAJ…

 

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    1 Comment

    1. Since the GSB community in Tvm is not temple centered, most of the settlers have come to tvm in connection with the job. So bulk of them are doctors, engineers and in service fields. Hence the community has representation from many settlements of GSB in India.

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