This year we were determined to visit the chapel of Our Lady of Remedies (Konkani. Remete Saibin), Cuelim village, Goa on the feast of three kings, i.e. 6 January. There was much in popular lore which suggested that we give it a wide berth -- which we did for all of 5 years.
We decided to go for the 4.30 p.m. Mass on the feast day. We took the diversion without any hitch. I was glad the car was allowed to go up for the last Mass of the day. Traffic advisory to the faithful was to leave their vehicles down the hill and avail of the shuttle service to the church.
At the top of the steep climb I found, due to my haste and excitement, I was in the wrong lane. Bearing down on me was a menacing Innova. By then the line of cars on my left was in no mood to give way and make space for an interloper. Thankfully one of the vehicles did and I manoeuvred into a gap. The traffic arrangements were chaotic and where parking was concerned there were only feeble attempts to direct traffic.
When we got to the open air pandal made up outside the chapel at 4.40 p.m. we realized we were already at Communion time. We thought the Mass may have started at 4 p.m. and not at 4.30 p.m. as announced in the papers. After the Mass we slipped into the chapel to pray at the shrine. The statue of Our Lady of Remedies is of immense beauty. It is flawless and is perched on a height over a pillar of stone encircled by decorations of gold. At Our Lady’s feet is a painting of the three kings offering their gifts.
We stepped out into the bright sunshine of the fair at 5.10 p.m. Well-dressed people were ambling along to enjoy a relaxed evening. Mothers and first-time fathers pressed new-born babies to their breasts and surged towards the chapel to give thanks. There were several stalls selling kadio-bodio, jalebis and gram. On the floor I noticed rinds of sausage. There were toys galore and my son trotted home happily with an air balloon of Chhota Bheem, a racer car (What else!), and a toy mobile phone. Queenie bargained for shorts for him and a white netted table cloth. I contented myself fancying I was on a photo shoot. I took several shots of us as a family for my blog. The breezes relaxed me and I even saw a gorgeous sunset as the sun dipped into the sea.
Remete Saibin reminds us that the cultural practices of 6 January every year in Goa need be centered more on Mother Mary and the baby Jesus she so lovingly holds. rather than on the 3 kings -- mere mortals -- and the surrounding media-hype
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 10 January 2016. Pix taken by fair-goers and Brian on his Canon camera.