|August 6, 2016 at 11:28 am #6747|
Popularly known as Konsachem Fest (Harvest Festival), villagers of Raia in Salcete celebrated the feast of their patron ‘Our Lady of Snows’ on Friday.
Early morning, parish priest Fr Leonard Morais, accompanied by a procession of villagers, visited a specially-demarcated field. After reciting prayers and symbolically blessing the field for a bountiful harvest, Morais then followed the annual tradition of using the ceremonial silver sickle to cut the first sheaf of grain. This paddy sheaf later adorned the main altar of ‘Our Lady of Snows’ church, Raia during the Eucharistic celebration held at 9.45am.
In his homily, Cansaulim parish priest Fr Jean da Cruz Fernandes extolled parishioners to emulate the life and values followed by Mother Mary and also urged them not to abandon the agrarian profession of their forefathers. Earlier in the day, there were masses held at 5.45am, 7am and 8.15am.
Raia is one of the two villages, the other being Taleigao in North Goa that follows this unique custom of acknowledging the toils of farmers through celebrating this harvest festival. Goans, whose staple diet comprises xitt, koddi ani nustem (rice, curry and fish) formerly used to make rice-based delicacies such as atoll, besides cooking the simple pez (rice gruel).
“Our Lady of Snows has an ecological connection in the Catholic tradition. The devotion to Our Lady of Snows is said to be one of the oldest devotions to Mother Mary. There is a legend about a marvellous snowfall in Rome in 352AD wherein Mother Mary appeared to a wealthy childless couple in a dream and indicated that she desired a church to be built in her honour and the site of the church would be covered with snow. On a hot sultry August 5 morning, the Esquiline hill was found to be covered with snow and in recognition of this miraculous event, the people of Rome built a church there in 358AD.
This church has become the seat of devotion to ‘Our Lady of Snows’ in the Catholic church and following this devotion, there are several churches and shrines dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Snows’ in other parts of the world including Belleville in Illinois in St Louis, Missouri in USA; the Thoothukudi pilgrimage centre in Tamil Nadu and the churches in the twin villages of Raia and Rachol,” said professor from the nearby Rahol seminary, Fr Victor Ferrao.
Source/Reference: Times of India, “Konsachem fest celebrated with pomp and fervour by Raia villagers“