The way you pronounce the name has caused much confusion, and amusement, particularly in the UK. The Cockney’s of London are usually defined as those people born within hearing distance of the Bow bells. The Konkanis of India – generally pronounced as Koknis – come from the state of Maharashtra. No doubt, several generations down the line, there are probably Koknis who can now also call themselves Cockneys!
There are Koknis who are Hindus, Christians (Goa) and Muslims. Kokni Muslims live mostly in the coastal region of Maharashtra, from Mumbai (Bombay), all the way south to Goa, and indeed parts of Kerala. They speak various forms of Marathi, including Kokni. The Kokni language itself also comes in many forms. There are also Koknis who prefer to speak Urdu. The population, language and culture are distinct enough to be able to sustain several TV channels now in Maharashtra.
Kokni Community Luton
The Kokni’s of Luton are approximately 500 and growing. We are small in comparison to Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. The Koknis first came to Luton in the 1960s – from India, South Africa, post-independence Kenya and various other places. Most of the Koknis retained strong links with their villages in India – Khed, Sakhroli, Furus, Tisenghi, Mazgaon to name but a few. These links continue to remain strong.
From its modest beginnings, KCL has now grown into a registered charity, running recreational, educational and social services for men, women and children across all the ages, whether elderly or disabled.
In deciding to set up an association, our founders said they wanted to “create a feeling of warmth, develop friendship, learn to appreciate other people’s culture and in turn make them understand our traditions. This would help create a harmonious society, irrespective of race, colour or creed”.
Those principles remain as true today as they did then.