COLVA FAMA

Colva, a picturesque South Goa village is well known for the crystal white sands of Colva beach. However much before the Colva beach became a tourist destination, the village was known far and wide for the centuries old 'Fama' or the feast of Menino Jesus (Infant Jesus) celebrated traditionally with pomp and solemnity at the Our Lady of Mercy Church.Colva Fama

Colva is the only place in Goa where the celebrations on the feast day are on a smaller scale when compared to the festive atmosphere on the Fama day - the day meant to announce the start of the novenas that lead to the feast day and blessing of the symbolic 'maddi' that is erected in front of the church.

According to local legend, the statue of Menino Jesus was found off the coast of Mozambique in the 17th century by some shipwrecked sailors led by Fr. Bento Ferreira, a Jesuit missionary. Fr Bento was later posted to Colva in 1668. He had a special altar built and had the statue grandly enthroned on it.

A few years later, the annual Fama began. The statue was kept for public veneration during the Fama as huge crowds turned to seek its blessings. However due to political upheavals in Portugal, the religious orders in Goa were suppressed forcing the Jesuits to flee to the Rachol Seminary, carrying along with them the statue.

The Colva villagers tried to get back the statue but to no avail. Finally they decided to make a replica of the original. Their only possession a golden ring, believed to have been found after it slipped off the original statue, was mounted on the new statue. The devotion was thus restarted.

Today, this statue is securely concealed in a triple locked vault. Celebrated annually on the second Monday of October, the Colva Fama has continued to draw crowds from all over the world.

On the day of the Fama all roads leading to Colva are packed with devotees in all their traditional finery. They start walking towards the church from as early as 5 a.m.

There is a concelebrated High Mass at 6 a.m.. The altar which houses the miraculous statue of the Infant Jesus remains locked with a shutter, on which an image of the Infant Jesus is nicely painted, pulled down over it. The crown, flag, shoes and ornaments of the statue are all made of gold and the robe inlaid with gold and precious stones.

Only after the Mass ends, the vicar and the president of the Confraria, expose the statue after unlocking the shutter. The statue is then brought down from its silver pedestal and handed over to the main celebrating Priest who carries it in a procession around the church.

The statue is then taken to the main altar and all the finery removed and then cleansed and a white robe is draped over it. The patiently waiting faithful are then allowed to kiss the statue.

Donations in the form of cash and kind - even gold - candles and wax models of different parts of the human anatomy pour in throughout the day as presented by the devotees. The masses continue through the day in the Church courtyard.

   

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