Look out for "Tangy2000" and make a trip back home! Programme is at end of this page!
Tangasseri , Tangassery, Tangy an Eurasion Anglo-Indian Settlement in Kerala, India
Tangasseri , is an area close to Quilon that juts out into the sea. It is about 99 acres in area. An ancient church of St. Thomas was supposed to have been built at the edge of the water, but with sea erosion and also a Fort called ‘Fort Thomas’ has suffered greatly. The Church has disappeared and the Fort has only a mound of rubble left behind. Buildings walls were made of laterite, a type of reddish rock ( also found in Mangalore). Being near the sea, weather can be pleasant to heavy monsoon winds and rain. The name Tangasseri (Tangy) or even Tangassery, could have many origins, and each one has its own theory. One enters Tangasseri through an arch, but there is also a side road that also allow you to enter the Settlement.
The Portuguese arrived first, having leased out Tangasseri from the Rani of Quilon (Kollam) to be a trading post. As history goes, life was always a rumble in these areas. In 1505, the Moors and the Portuguese settlers battled at Quilon and the latter got bashed up, the original St. Thomas Church was destroyed. Subsequently, when Portuguese reinforcements came from Cochin, they were victorious and the Church was rebuilt. The Portuguese lost lots of lives in Quilon. The Portuguese then built Fort Thomas between 1517 and 1519, and controlled the coast to Anjengo. Pepper being the main trade through Tangasseri from Quilon. (There was also a supposition that St. Francis Xavier during his trip to the Malabar Coast could have been resident at Tangasseri because of the Portuguese settlement). The Fort at Tangasseri was surrended to the Dutch in 1661. They pulled down the Portuguese Churches except St. Thomas probably because of its approximaty to the Fort which they could have used for worship. ( We have the example of St. Francis Xavier’s Church in Cochin (Kochi) which went from the Portuguese to the Dutch to the British, going through the Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican systems of worship.).The Dutch built lots of houses in Tangasseri and Quilon near the waterway. After another 100 years, the peace was shattered, and the Dutch surrended to the British East India Company in 1795. ( The wars in India were closely linked to the political fraternity in Europe between the Nobility.). The British and the Travancore Princely State were at loggerheads, but the British had the last say. Not surprising, there is an area between the Portuguese Cemetery and the Lighthouse Road, which is called the ‘Buckingham Canal’! I did not have the chance to visit this area. The Lighthouse I saw from far, and that too many years ago, as you will see in the photograph a coast of greenery with the lighthouse submerged in the foliage. The sea encroached much of the land, and large rocks were set in the land edge by the Government to save the erosion. There were many small lagoons that fish could be found and adventurous locals would catch a few lunches and dinners there. Now the erosion has even taken it toll on these havens as you can the difference of the same coast. There was a time when ships waiting on the high seas could be seen, and one local called Anjo Allen ( Archie Fernandez’s nephew) who presently resides at St. John’s Bungalow, used to swim out to sea to the ships for some ‘goodies’, of course today Anjo is far from the hero of the past. He can be seen in one of the pictures catching fish in a 'lagoon', net in hand.
The people of Tangasseri were politically tuned to many of the Europeans and it was finally the British that they settled for and excepted them for support when cession by the Travancore State was being considered. This ‘Memorial’ or ‘Battle of Rights’ of the people of Tangasseri went on from 1932 to 1937 when it went before the House of Lords, and whereby the locals, majority of them Christians, Eurasian and Anglo-Indian by birth, were considered to be part of the Madras Presidency and protection. But after India’s Independence, and with the exodus of migration to UK, Australia, USA, Canada, there were too few families left in Tangasseri to hold together and feel it was an Anglo-Indian Settlement ( like Whitefield ). People sold their houses to outsiders and local fishermen, and so the glorious days of the past have really died down. Gone are the days of ‘partying’ and ‘club’ functions. St. John’s Bungalow also saw a few of these functions under Archie Fernandez who I think was also the President of the Anglo-Indian Association. The Club known as the ‘East West Club’, and had elders like Edwards, DeClase, Gonzago, Fernandez supporting it has died down. Frankpet Fernandez (husband of late Grace Fernandez)was the founder of the ‘Gandhi Seva Sangam’, a social society.
Some of the beautiful houses that can be found when walking along the streets of Tangasseri.
Francdale: Marie Ville: Nerphine Villa :
The Bishop of Quilon's Palace: Chapel attached:
Infant Jesus Church, an old Portuguese Church: Holy Cross Church (Kochupalli)
Some more pictures of Tangasseri can be found on the Kerala Home Page.
I feel as an outsider, and reading about all the exciting and traditional history of Tangasseri, that all Tangasseri born people and their children all over the world should try and maintain this quiet and picturesque settlement, by buying back some of the old houses and helping those who exist in them so that the history of the people of Tangasseri, their forefathers, will not be eroded, neither will the Eurasian and Anglo-Indian be forgotten as a Community that held together when they really needed to, and make Tangasseri once more a Settlement that is different from any other in India or around the world, set up a Trust.
Some of the names that one came across in Tangasseri : Surrao, Fernandez, Labrooy, Burgess, Gresseaux, Miranda, D’Souza, Gonsalvez, DeClase, Xavier, D’Cruz, Gonzago, Netto, Rozario, Dias, Malheurs, Allen, deCouto, Fernando, Cabral, Motha, D’Vaz, Bob, Godangs, DeMonte, Brown, Pereira, Lee, Patrick, Edwards, Tope, Bartholomew or Bartholomeuz, Tangasseri, Ford, Conceisco, Poppen, Frank, Stevens, Veges, Jacobs, Pelley, Mascrene, Johnson, Vanspall, Cameons, Ribeiro, Andrade, Lobo, Lambert, Noronha, Rodrigues, Fleury. Many of these had their forefathers fight against the annexing of Tangasseri by the State of Travancore. They wanted an independant area that came under the British and hence under the Madras Presidency, however after Independance it merged with the State of Kerala.
Look out for the Anglo-Indian Reunion of Kerala called "Tangy2000". As soon as info comes in I will post the same. You may also send a mail to Joseph Fernandez for information. Joseph is the author of the book on Tangasseri called "Glimpses of Tangasseri - A 500 Year Legacy"
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|Thought for the Day: I am the bread of life he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst . John 6:35, Holy Bible|
26th January, 1999
Tangasseri - a Jewel of the Malabar Coast - is commemorating its 500th year in the year 2000. It only follows then that this 99-acre settlement with its multi-chequered history looks forward to ushering, in the Millennium in a manner that befits its heritage.
Towards this end, a global community of Tangasserians will be congregating at the village between 2Oth December 1999 and 5th January, 2000. For those of us who trace our roots to this ancient settlement, it is the opportunity of a lifetime to reach into the future together.
‘'Tangy 2000' is an idea whose time has come. With foresight and careful planning. this event will be a truly memorable one in the history of our little settlement.
As a first step towards reaching out to your roots, please confirm your participation at the earliest to Joseph Fernandez. As a Tangasserian you are an authorised representative of this commemoration. So, please use copies of this letter to spread the word and keep us informed about your progress. Tangy 2000 looks forward to being enriched by your presence.
The Tangy 2000 Committee
"Come Home to the Millennium"
For more details write to Frankpet Fernandez, Franc Dale-II, Bella Vista, Sunrise Avenue, Neelankarai, Chennai (Madras) - 600 041 , Phone:091-044- 4925624 or 4925109, Fax: 091-044-4928301 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tangy 2000 The Reunion
TENTATIVE PROGRAMME (UPDATE 20/10/99)
22/12/99, Wed Xmas Tree & Carol Singing (Organized by AI Assoc. Tangy President)
23/12/99, ThurMass at 5:30 p.m. / Inaugural Function (Zita / Marolla /Fr.Ferdinand)
24/12/99, FriMidnight Mass - English, (English Choir-Ronnie &Marietta)
25/12/99, SatChristmas Dance (Org. by Tangy AI Assoc. President)
26/12/99, Sun Fr. Ferdinand’s Dinner or Beach Party (Lovelyn Sahni - beach party)
27/12/99, Mon Picnic (Adolph D’Rozario / Arnold Fernandez)
28/12/99, Tue Morning Mass for departed souls - I.J Church (Marie Bayross)
29/12/99, Wed Morning Mass for departed souls - H.C Church (Rhoda Fernandez),
30/12/99, Thur Sports Day / Lunch (Victor Fernandez / Justin Fernandez -Tangy)
31/12/99, Fri Midnight Mass / Millenium Get together (Kenneth Peterson / Ralph De Classe)
01/01/2000, Sat Dance / Farewell ( Neil D’Couto / Placid Fernandez, Jerry D’Cruz)
02/01/2000Please check final program
Pls.Note: Daily Mass in English at 7:30 a.m. in both the churches.
PLEASE CHECK THE FINAL PROGRAMME WITH THE 'Tangy2000' COMMITTEE
A Tangy Tale for the MillenniumBy any stretch of imagination, the Malabar coast is a breathtaking span of scenery. Pampered coconut groves jostle for space with red tiled villas. Its native Malayalam, with its singsong intonations, measures out its richness in expressions as golden as the sands that border it. While Life itself swishes onto its verdant shores with the lazy splash of waves. Give or take a turbulent history, that is pretty much the Good Life, as it is known in God’s own country. The calm that hung over Tangasseri (Off Quilon) in late December 1999, proved to be quite deceptive.
It had taken two years, and a moment of truth had presented itself. Tangy 2000 - a reunion of a global community of Tangasserians kicked off to a feisty start of the evening of December 23rd, 1999 at the Infant Jesus High School Grounds. The highlight of the evening was a historic parade, which traced the history of this multi-cultural settlement since the days of the European advent on the East Coast...
Over the centuries, these changes in India have reflected themselves in the story of a picturesque little settlement at the southern tip of the Kollam coast (modern day Quilon). Here, beyond the ruins of a large crumbling fort, was born a treasure-trove of a Malabar legacy: Tangasseri. A thriving gold trade once existed here. Not to mention, rivetting legends of buried treasure. But this was only one of Tangaserri's timeless secrets. For the 500 odd Tangasserians gathered at Tangasseri in December 1999, it was time to dip into a treasure trove of an inherited heritage. And, to party endlessly - without excuse!
It was little wonder then that the Christmas dance was packed to the seams. A lively 800 strong crowd took on the night, and the celebrations tapered off, rather reluctantly, in the wee hours of morning. Apart from the big do’s like the Christmas dance, there were the small ones. Innumerable house parties and family get togethers marked those memorable, verdant days. (And yet, they haven’t even qualified for nostalgia, as yet!)
The 27th morning, for instance, featured a memorable cruise down Quilon’s famed backwaters. A cruiser practically hired for the day, was the scene of riotous songs, merry-making and endless card games. In the midst of the inspired-pandemonium, an old timer was heard remarking that the good old days of ‘Tangy’ had come alive again.
Though Tangasseri is a 99 acre settlement, it ensured that its reunion would have something for everyone. A good many of the ladies gathered had studied at the Mount Carmel School at Tangasseri. And so, it was time for a reunion-within-a-reunion at their alma mater. For those who believed in the swaying Good Life beneath coconut palms, it was a beeline to Tangasseri’s little known haven by the sea - Tiruvallaram. (Those of you who swear by the Bacardi ad will know exactly what I mean!)
This nifty, semi-discovered corner of Quilon has a crescent beach with two native toddy houses. So after an invigorating swim in the glorious morning sun, it helps to make a beeline to the toddy shop. Here, you are innundated with exotic seafood - calamari, prawns, crabs, mussels - all served in saucers of dynamite masala. This, of course, is complemented by a boiled tapioca mix that has to washed down by a slightly fizzy, definitely sweet toddy!
For Tangasseri’s gourmets and gourmands alike, it was a misty-eyed trip down memory lane. At the house parties, we spoke of earlier, Tangasseri’s own delicacies came to life. Tangasseri's legendary culinary dishes range from delicately flavoured stews, to spicy prawn curries, all the way to a crusty white halwa called ‘sukiri’. And, an exotic cashew-based sweet called ‘Matrimony’!
In the midst of all this revelry, there was time for sober reflection - as religious services like the Way of the Cross were conducted one evening on Tangasseri’s street. (Stations of the Cross dot Tangasseri’s street corners).
This traditional blend of good times, tempered by a religious outlook has always been a characteristic of life in this intensely Catholic settlement. So much so, even the New Year’s eve festivities commenced, but only after a Mass at the Bishop’s Palace Chapel.
The New Year’s Eve was interesting in itself. The venue was the Infant Jesus School Ground - and the mood, admittedly, was more low key than the events that marked the beginning of Tangy 2000. It was, after all, close to parting time. The evening began with a round of old time hits (read rock’n’roll and country songs...). As the midnight progressed, it was time for the traditional ‘Auld Lang Syne’. And then it happened. As if by sabotage, the night burst into Daler Mehandi hits. And then, there was no stopping the young ones. Tangasseri dances had just acquired an all new, millennial flavour...
Soon enough, it was time for goodbyes, partings and the promise to meet again. And as Tangy 2000 made its nostalgia-tinted way to our photo albums, there was one thought that came to the fore: We were part of a truly special celebration. One that commemorated a Way of Life, that shaped our own lifetimes. No two Tangy Reunions, we realised, would be the same. And, Nostalgia - in God’s own country - would not be what it used to be.