NAVELIM CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF ROSARY
Photos & Text By:Ms Cellie Gonsalves,
According to legend, this church was built in mud similar to the other churches in Salcete Taluka, in the year 1594 to 1598. The builders were Jesuits and it was financed by the villagers. The first parish priest of Navelim Church was a French Jesuit Fr. John Sena. (Mitras Lusitanas no Oriente)
As time passed, the church became small for the growing population. Later on, it was reconstructed with laterite stones on a larger scale by a rich Goan merchant, whose name is not given.
This merchant, according to legend , while passing through the main road running in front of the above church, received the message that he would lose a substantial amount of money in his business. As soon as he received this message, he entered the church and started praying to Our Lady of Rosary, requesting her to relieve him from this catastrophy. If his prayers were answered, he promised to reconstruct the original church, on a larger scale. As a result of his intercession to Our Lady of Rosary, he recovered not only what he had lost, but realised double the amount. He then financed the entire reconstruction, not only of the church but he also renewed the statue of our Lady of Rosary. Information on further reconstruction of Navelim church, if any, are not known.
The celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Rosary begins every third Wednesday in November. This devotion of Our Lady comprises of an extensive celebration which begins with traditional processions and novenas.
Each year the family selected to celebrate the feast paints the church on the outside fifteen days before the feast. The inside of the church is also beautifully decorated and the outside is covered with fairy lights. Most of the houses and streets in the village are lit up with colourful lights during the celebrations.
Every four years, the statue of Our Lady of Rosary is brought down from the altar and a procession takes Her to Holy Rosary School where mass is held in the playground. During this one day consecration of Our Lady, children from the school act out scenes from the Bible and the playground is filled with crowds of villagers.
On the third Wednesday in November at 3:00 a.m., a candlelight procession carries a beautifully decorated statue of Our Lady towards the church. Everyday for the following nine days, the Novena prayers begin between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. On the tenth day masses begin at 5:00 a.m. and the celebration of the feast continues for the next three days.
In the evenings, a grand fireworks display is sponsored by the family selected to celebrate the feast that year. Throughout the day and night there are Konkani concerts. In addition there are dances held in the evenings which are well attended. The Navelim villagers invite families and friends for a celebration at their homes and they usually visit each others homes carrying trays of traditional Goan sweets.
According to legend, in earliest times, this fair consisted mainly of three or four sheds and lasted only for a day, because there was superstition that on the same night of the feast day, there was a gathering of devils in the area in front of the church.
DR. FRANCISCO SALVADOR GOMES, father of Dr. Francisco Luis Gomes, who was the administrator of Salcete, encouraged some of the owners of the sheds to extend the fair for three days. This was done, and fair gained in prominence so that today it is the most popular fair in Goa (Ultramor of 12-11-1869 no. 554 & Ultramor of 10-11-1900 year 42).
Today the fair comprises of stalls selling toys, food and clothing. There are booth for games as well as a Fun Fair with merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels. In addition, there are furniture stalls as well as stalls selling animals for farming such as goats, cows and buffaloes.
DID YOU KNOW
- Navelim is the soccer capital not only of Salcete but of Southern Goa.
- Navelim has the largest concentration of Catholics in Goa – over 20,000
- Navelim is famous for its political, academic and spiritual talents. Some of the famous descendants of Navelim are:
- Dr. Froilano D’Mello first Goan to be the Portuguese Ambassador to Brazil
- Francisco Luis Gomes – statesman and linguist represented Goa in the Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon
- His Eminence the late Valerian Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay was the first Indian Prince of the Catholic Church.
- F.X. Fernandes de Lord, from Navelim is the only one and first Goan who help of wind.
Navelim is one of the largest villages in Goa. Some of the name of Navelim vaddos are – Aquem, Buttica, Colden, Colmoroda, Danddo, Dongorim, Fradilem, Mandopa, Santrim, Sinquerin, Sirvoden, Ratvaddo, Telaulim.