Celebrate Catholics June 30, 2018 No Comments


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Pavwallas. You’ve definitely heard of the word a zillion times. However, every Catholic happens to be called a pavwalla here. While you may address any Catholic as a pavwalla for convenience purposes, the truth might be otherwise. The word ‘Pavwallas’ is not just a word; it has a history of its own. Normally, when you hear the word, it sounds like bread. Well, you’re absolutely right. But does that mean, Catholics are referred to as bread? Absolutely not! Here’s a little gist about who pavwallas really are and how they happened to acquire the title of one.

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Originally, the ‘Goans’ were actually called as pavwallas. The name has particularly said to have originated in Bombay. Goans settled here in large numbers. They were initially called ‘Macapao’ by the local Mumbaikars of the place for over a century. This was because of the staple breakfast of the working class Goans. Goans were the ones who had bread as a uniform meal to their morning diet. In Goa, the bread man roams around in cycles, going door to door, in order to sell the bread in his basket. A lot of goans would purchase this bread almost every day, they still do. The baker would shout the word ‘Pavwalla’ loudly. To which his buyers would respond with “maka pao di” which means “give me bread”. This is how the nickname of ‘Macapao’ came about. This title sure spread like wildfire that even Goans themselves would find addressing one another the same. In recent years, the word pavwalla has been shortened to just ‘Pao’.

However, we have varied misconceptions about this term, a lot of people are often caught calling every Catholic a pavwalla. This is because they’re unaware about the fascinating but not so mysterious history behind the term.

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For your information, the Goan bread is marvelous. It is very different compared to the other type of breads you get in and around Bombay and other cities. Well, we can’t be shocked, can we? Goans do have a long history with bread. There is a special type of bread called as ‘Poee bread’ which is sold mostly by the bakers who roam with cycles to sell them. These bakers are called as ‘Poders’ and sell all the authentic goan loafs, including patties and other treats. A true goan will always be a lover of these delicious treats, irrespective of the place he’s settled in.

It’s easy to address one another with a stereotype. However, if you ever hear any of your friends addressing just about every Catholic as a pavwalla, you do have a nice short and crisp history to tell. While passing off authentic information, you can also feel proud to know the history of the very famous word. So brace yourself, lovely people! Think of all the great friends you have, every time you dip that bread in your tea and relish it. If it weren’t for our dear Goan brothers and sisters, we may not have been feasting on this simple, yet delicious delight. So cheers to all the Pao’s, we know they’re great people are we’re certainly lucky to have them in our lives.

This article has been contributed by a Goan. If you have an article to share, please email us at

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