Sunday, 28 August 2016

Mass at the Raj Bhavan

On 15th August the gates of the Raj Bhavan, Dona Paula are kept open to allow the devotees to celebrate the feast of the Assumption. The feast Mass is celebrated in the 500-year-old chapel inside the Raj Bhavan, which is dedicated to Mother Mary. The public are allowed to attend the Mass at 10 a.m. - which is what I did.

The hoisting of the flag at Goa University, Taleigao at 8.30 a.m. got over after a short speech by the Vice Chancellor where he extolled India’s unity in diversity, and technological prowess. A soulful rendition of  Aye Mere Watan ke Logon and our group song of Hum Honge Kamyaab / We Shall Overcome, marked the end of the brief ceremony. I was free to leave. 

It would be my first visit to the Raj Bhavan. I had been invited by organizers of the Goa Literary Festival earlier to be part of a gaggle of poets, but I preferred not to be a spectator – so I did not go.

The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) circle at Dona Paula came soon enough. I headed for the Raj Bhavan and was soon met by its imposing gates with the Ashoka Chakra emblazoned on it. The traffic policemen were courteous. Parking was in the helipad area.

The lovely walk on foot through the avenue towards the chapel had all of us ‘pilgrims’ walking in unison with an excitement which created an unseen bond. As we reached the chapel with its breathtaking location overlooking the Arabian sea, we felt privileged we were part of this experience on Independence Day.

The Mass was said by the Parish Priest of Caranzalem church. He said the Raj Bhavan chapel came under the purview of Caranzalem church. A hushed ripple went through the packed chapel when the Governor, Mrs. Mridula Sinha (73) accompanied by her husband Mr. Ram Kripal Sinha (82) walked slowly up the aisle to the seats near the altar. They were accompanied by the ADC to the Governor in ceremonial dress, safari-dressed members of the Goa Police and a few others. The governor motioned to the user to bring the box of offering so she could put in her mite. They listened to the service prayerfully and with rapt attention.

At the end of the service Father thanked the Governor for facilitating the service and for the goodwill enjoyed between the Governor and the archdiocese of Goa. I realized I was witness to a unique moment in time and space where there was perfect understanding between church and state – each fully aware of their own and the other’s roles and limits. This was a unique feature of the vibrancy of Indian polity -- made more apparent on Independence Day. 

As I wended my way through the fair I glanced at UGDDAS - the card of remembrance distributed after the Mass. ‘Assumpta Saibinniche Porbecho / Raj Bhavan Kopelant Bhetoitat / Raj Bhavan Staff, Dona Paula / 15ver Agostache 2016.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 21 August 2016. Pix by the author. Pix of Raj Bhavan courtesy

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