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Feast of the Holy Spirit Church, Margao

Modern Margao is South Goa’s commercial hub and has grown from a small market town into one of Goa’s largest cities. Here one finds a mix of everything modern and traditinal, from bullock carts to the latest in automotive design.

As the centre of transportation in South Goa’most visitors will at least pass through Margao once one their way to the Southern beaches like Colva’ Benaulim’ and Palolem. The history of Margao has undergone various periods of historical interest owing to the various powers which ruled over the area of Salcette talukas. In ancient times’ Margao was a centre for religious pilgrimage among the Hindu population’ and the ‘Math’ of the Vaishnavas’ the Hindu sect Which which holds special reverence to the prote ctor God “Vishnu”. Margao was the site of many a splendid temple and ‘dharamasala’,however, owing to the Muslim invansions in the Medieval era followed by the Portuguese missioaries, most of these temples have been destroyed.

When Salcette region was annexed by the portuguese in 1534, several churches were erected to cater to the spiritual needs of the growing Catholic community in the area.

The Church of the Holy sprit [see photograph] was once such building whicw was first contructed in 1564 by the Jesuit missinaries. It was destroyed following the Muslim invasion of the Salcette in 1571, and contruction was begun again only after the area had been firmly secured and funds raised.

The Church of the Holy Spirit celebrates its Feast Day sometime in the final weeks of May, and in additional to a high mass on sunday, an outdoor mela [fair] continues for the next five or six days.sweets

Schedule prior to the onset of the rains, people come from all over Goa to buy their provisions of dry fish, household items, spices, furniture, and many other products. As customery at any mela, an abundance of bright – orange ‘sweet-meet’ stalls line th e streets hoping to attract those with a sweet -tooth. This mela is the last major festival prior to the onset Monsoons and is famous throughtout Goa.

Thus beginning in 1645 and consecrated in 1675, the Church of the Holy Spirit in Margao is one of the South Goa’s most notable edifices.Rows of mango trees line the rectangular madan in front, and Sunday mass draws a large crowd from the surrounding erea who come dressed in their ‘Sunday best’ .

By Karin Larsen – Full Bright Research Student

Excerpt from “Glimpses of Goa”