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Christmas & Feast of Three Kings – Goa

by Madhav Srinivasan 5 year, 6 months ago

Christmas and the Feast of Three Kings are celebrated with much fun and fanfare in the coastal state of Goa. Not restricting to only Christians, even Hindu’s and people of other religions also join the celebrations and make merry.

Christmas is celebrated to hail the birth of Baby Jesus wherein houses and churches are decorated with snowflakes, Christmas trees, glowing stars and other colourful decorations. Friends and family come together in prayer and exchange wishes and gifts during this joyous day. Delectable cakes, candies, drinks and other local cuisine make for a rich feast that family and friends come together to celebrate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ.

What Happens there?

The exact birth date of Lord Jesus Christ was shrouded in mystery until 350 AD when the Bishop of Rome, Julius I chose the 25th of December to mark the birth of the Holy Father. The Christmas Festival in Goa starts on the 24th December and lasts till 1st January coupled with New Year celebrations. The people of Goa come together and have a gala time that also attracts a lot of tourists from abroad.

Apart from Christmas, the people also happen to celebrate another festival called the “Feast of Three Kings” during this time. The Feast of three kings is sort of an ode dedicated to celebrate Lady of Mount, hailed as a protector of the people. The Festival proceeds for 9 days with much fun and frolic and ends on the 6th of January, Epiphany, wherein people decorate the idol of the Virgin with ornaments and seek her blessings.

The festivities are popular in the villages of Quelim, Arrosim, Reis Magos, Cansaulim and Chandor. On the final day, three boys are chosen, in age group between 8 to 10 years, to enact the roles of the three kings in question and are supposed to carry gifts to the new born Christ child. The ritual starts when the three boys clothed in royal finery begin their journey towards the chapel from different branches of the city. The 3 of them finally meet at the top of the hill and proceed to the chapel to give their presents and wealth.

History about the Feast of Three Kings

The Feast of Three Kings is an important festival with significant historical importance. According to legend, an old woman by the name of Befana was living close to Bethlehem. On a certain night she heard a knock on her door; and upon  answering the door, she was greeted by the three kings who were in search of the Christ Child and enquired about the child with her. In frenzy, Befana said that she does not know of a Christ child and slammed the door shut. 

As time flew by, Befana was in constant thought about the so called Christ child and decided to go look for the child herself. And every time she saw a boy, she would break off a piece of bread that she was carrying all in the hope that he might be the Christ child.

Legend also says that a boulder with the clear marks of footprints of an infant and an adult is seen on a nearby hill from the site that marks the spot where the Virgin made a temporary pit-stop along with the Infant Jesus, while the horse that carried them quenched its thirst, before proceeding to Hill of Remedies where she chose to reside.

Another strange feature of the site is that the crowds disperse immediately from the location as soon as the festivities are over and the church remains closed till the next round of annual festivities begin.

The Christmas and The Feast of 3 Kings are some of the most awaited and fun-filled festival in the celebratory state of Goa, prompting us to participate with full gusto as well.

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