Saturday, December 15, 2007

Goenchea Saibachem Fest

It's the feast of St.Francis Xavier at the Velim Church and mass just got hi-tech with TV monitors displaying an inside view of the altar for those who stand outside the crowded church. Parish populations have gone through the roof and the old churches cannot accomodate them. For Christmas, Good Friday and Easter many parishes put up pandal enclosures on the church grounds. The picture on the monitors is grainy and the inspired videographer focuses on the statues in the side altars during hymns.

The faithful shuffle along in double file on the road. The band playing is interspersed by exploding fozzne, gunpowder bombs which give off a loud enough report to make little children clutch their mothers and make older parishioners temporarily deaf. Any vehicle trying to cross now will have to wait until the whole procession has passed.

What doth he think of, his son on the ship or the sorpotel that waits at the festa jevonn? Some walk with their hands clasped in front, some walk swinging them free, this pensive walker has a dignified gait.

Probably deterred by diminished vision this gentleman watches the procession from the bandstand.

The procession winds up back at the church entrance having circumnavigated the football ground and manouevred through the steel rods, sand piles and incomplete compound walls. An extension is being built to the parish school.

The intrepid five gather near the devoutly named Devtanarayan icecream vendor to figure out their budgets for toys, ring games and of course, icecream. My grandmother, god bless her soul, would give us one rupee each to splurge at the fair. We had to carry out similar planning.
Mestre Josinho and his blowers strike up the right notes as the mass ends. Sax, trumpets and trombones from men in their fifties and sixties. Young Goans nowadays prefer learning keyboards, guitar and even violin, but wind players are on the decline. Josinho is a busy man, his schedule is packed with tiatros, but he always makes it for his church feast. They swing and sway as Santa Lucia, Manha de Carnaval and other standards fill the air.

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José Lourenço - Margao,Goa

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