Brief History of Jasmine Cultivation of Pangla-Shankerpura

 April 8, 2022

The jasmines (mallige) of Shankerpura in Pangla parish (earlier in Mangalore diocese and Dakshina Kannada district and now in Udupi Diocese and Udupi district) have become famous not only in the coastal region of Karnataka but also in Mumbai and other places by the efforts of jasmine growers (farmers) and agents / distributors. In the recent years the jasmine crop of Shankerpura has received Geographic Indication tag. In the commencement, progress and popularity of the jasmine cultivation of Pangla-Shankerpura, there is a story of the foresightedness of a Catholic priest and hard work of the people belonging to the Pangla (Shankerpura) church.

The area in and around Shankerpura was under the jurisdiction of Shirva – Our Lady of Health parish till early decades of twentieth century. In 1922 (November 22), 100 years ago, Pangala parish was formed by carving out from the Shirva parish. There might have been 70 – 80 families back then with 2 wards – namely Pangla and Kurkal. There was utter poverty in the new parish (Pangla) as this area consisted of elevated and hilly landscape and very less low lying areas having water facility. Thus the area consisted of only a few fields suitable for paddy or other crop cultivation. During those years only ten or twelve families had paddy fields at Shankerpura. A few men were working in the coffee estates of Theerthahalli, Koppa etc in Chikkamagaluru and in other districts. Some were helping the fishermen of Kaup in their fishing activities like pulling the fishing nets. A few worked in saw mills. Going to Bombay in search of greener pasture was just begun. There were no other livelihood sources or job opportunities.

Jasmine cultivation

Jasmine tying and arranging

Jasmine collection center

Jasmine tying

Jasmine Seminar - Flower Merchants honoured

Jasmine Seminar - Fr Ferdinand inaugurates

Jasmine Seminar - John P Mendonca speaks

Bishop Peres

At this juncture of great difficulties a messiah in the person of Fr. Basil Salvadore Peris came to Pangla church as the parish priest in 1934 and served in Pangla for 18 years till he was transferred in 1952 to Bendore parish in Mangalore city (The present Pangla church building was constructed under his leadership). Then he became the Coadjutor Bishop to Bishop Victor Fernandes and he was consecrated as the bishop of Mangalore in 1955. He passed away in 1958 while travelling to Rome by passenger ship.

When Fr Basil Peres came to Pangla in 1934, he saw poverty everywhere in his new parish. He had judged that the area of Shankerpura was not suitable for paddy cultivation but suitable for jasmine cultivation. He knew jasmine cultivation was in practice at Bhatkal (in Uttar Kannada district).

During those days Sebastian Mendonca (Bosthu Mendos – grandfather of John P Mendonca, the author of this article) was a prominent member of Pangla parish. He was also the gurkar of his ward (St Sebastian) and close to Fr Peres, the parish priest. Fr Peres arranged for the jasmine saplings from Bhatkal and one fine morning he (Fr Peres) asked Bosthu Mendos to bring jasmine saplings from Bhatkal.

To fulfill the wish of parish priest, Bosthu Mendos along with his friends Peter Mathias and Santhan Crasta went to Bhatkal on foot which is 100 kms away from Shankerpura. They were not young but around 50-55 years of age. Each one of them carried 25-30 saplings on their heads and returned. These plants were distributed among close relatives and neighbors and thus started the jasmine cultivation at Pangla-Shankerpura in the mid-1930s.

Later more saplings were produced from these plants and the jasmine cultivation spread to most of the Catholic families.

In the initial years of the jasmine cultivation at Shankerpura, say 1938-39, the jasmine yield was collected from the grower families by youngsters and they used to take them to Udupi town on foot. Later, they made use of bicycles for this purpose. Some youngsters took jasmines to Karkala which is 30 kms away from Shankerpura.

During those days in Bhatkal the jasmines were tied using cotton thread. Such flowers were not liked by Hindu customers for use in religious functions. So plantain (banana) plant thread was being used on the request of those users. Their wish was honoured and by this practice not only jasmine cultivation but also plantain plantation flourished.

During mid-1940s ‘Mallige Katte’ (Jasmine Trading Centre) came into existence in Shankerpura. Francis Castelino (Father of Albert Castelino), Casmir Mendonca (F/o Fr Augustine Mendonca – now in Canada), Pascal Mendonca (F/o John P Mendonca, the author) and John Rodrigues (F/o Casmir Rodrigues) were the first merchants to establish the Katte and fixing the rates. This practice continues till date.

Later on as the bus service started in the coastal region the flowers were sent to Mangalore and far off places. After the air travel service was introduced at Mangalore airport at Bajpe flowers were being sent to Bombay and even to Gulf countries.

Jasmine cultivation was the main source of income for the people of Pangla-Shankerpura and surrounding places for couple of decades. Most of the families lived on jasmine income till the Gulf boom started. At the same time, the cultivation spread to many parts of the undivided Dakshina Kannada (Mangalore and Udupi) districts and today it is a huge commercial venture.

(A talk given at jasmine cultivators seminar held at Shankerpura on March 27, 2022 as a part of centenary celebrations of Pangala Parish).

Article guidance and file photos: H R Alva



By John P Mendonca
John P Mendonca, now 75, was the 7th rank holder in SSLC (Tenth Standard) in the Karnataka (then Mysore) state in 1963, 2nd rank holder in BE - Metallurgy at Karnataka Regional Engineering College - KREC (now National Institute of Technology Karnataka - NITK) Surathkal, Dakshina Kannada district during its initial years (5th batch) and an engineer of repute. He served in Bangalore, Mysore and Nitte in reputed industries. Now settled at his ancestral house at Shankerpura (Pangla parish) and engaged in jasmine, coconut and other cultivation. John is also a versatile singer, dramatist and an orator. He can be contacted at +91 9845597599 -WA).
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Comment on this article

  • Don M Lewis, Kallianpur

    Wed, Apr 13 2022

    It's very interesting and useful information. We Mangaloreans' should continue this trade by using new technology and bring this trade into new scale . There is big money in India itself.

  • Manohar, Udupi

    Mon, Apr 11 2022

    Thanks for the pangala mallige article. I like blossomed jaji variety. Anyone knows jaji history.

  • Priyanka Dsouza, Pangla

    Mon, Apr 11 2022

    Very informative article on the famous Shankerpura mallige/ panglache kole.

  • Melwyn Lobo, Mangalore

    Sun, Apr 10 2022

    Many of the readers may be remembering that there is a Jasmine variety that is specific to Mangalore and was grown by mostly Christian people of Mangalore. The Jasmine plants are not like the Jasmine shrubs grown by the Pangal/Udipi variety. It was a small vein extending over long distances. The Pangla/udipi variety Jasmine grows throughout the year. But the Mangalorean variety grows only during the summer starting from Feb - to May. They are more dependent on the hot atmosphere than the cold weather. These veins are not acclimatized to more rain and hence the jasmines do not grow during the rain or winter season. The fragrance of Mangalorean Jasmine flowers is unique. In the early 60s and till 1990 there were a lot of Mangalorean Christian Jasmine growers and their livelihood was dependent on it. With the development of the city of Mangalore, the cultivation has gone out of practice and the Mangalorean Jasmine is gradually getting replaced by Pangla/Udipi variety as it grows throughout the year and is also a cash crop. Thorough research on the Mangalorean Jasmine variety is needed so that the same can be preserved for a long time and for preservation for the future generations to come Thanks to Mr. Mendonca for writing an informative article on the Pangla/Udipi Jasmine.

  • Prabhu, DK/Canada

    Sat, Apr 09 2022

    India is a subcontinent steeped in history ancient to modern. What is needed are writers to write on any topic- small and big🤗! The author here deserves a heartfelt applause describing the history of growing Jasmine in our district. My congratulation.

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Sat, Apr 09 2022

    Great Article! I learnt a lot about the famous jasmines of Pangla/Shankerapura. The author has narrated it very well with supporting photographs. However, one correction: Thirthahalli (correct spelling) is in Shivamogga (Shimoga) District and not in Chikkamagaluru District.

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Sat, Apr 09 2022

    Great article, great pictures. Thank you. Hope this history does not get forgotten by the future generations.

  • Cyril Martis, Pangla/Ottawa/Canada

    Fri, Apr 08 2022

    Congratulations What a nicely written article! It is timely for the centenary celebration on November 22, 2022. Thank you John P for reminiscing our days inPangla/lShankerpura.

  • Eric Alban Rodrigues, Pangla/Canada

    Fri, Apr 08 2022

    Congratulations and a big thank you to John. P The Great. A well narrated article explaining the history of economic and social challenges of our fore fathers and a the messiah in Fr Perish who is still well known and remembered by every Pangalite for his vision to alleviate people’s hardship. This year being the centenary year of Pangla Parish of our ancestors who played a pivotal role in development and upbringing of the parishioners is worth reckoning.

  • William Pais, Mangalore

    Fri, Apr 08 2022

    Very informative article on jasmines as it traced the path on which brought jasmines to Pangala. Thank you Mr Mendonca. I wish Pangala retains its jasmine fragrance in the years to come. Congratulations on all Pangalites to have completed 100 years as a parish community.

  • Reva, Mangalore

    Fri, Apr 08 2022

    Thank so much John sir for the detailed article about history of shankerpura Jasmine. Enjoyed the article.

  • Prinson D'Lima, Santhekatte- Kallianpur/Doha- Qatar

    Fri, Apr 08 2022

    Thanks for this write-up. People of Pangala-Shankerpura will always be grateful to Fr. Basil Peres who helped them in changing their economic situation. This kind of example should be taught in schools so that the generations will be motivated to think out of box.

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