Religious fervour, festivity at Colva

The road to Colva on the second Monday in October is paved with good intentions. Locals will tell you that the traditional Fama of Infant Jesus is a bigger affair than the feast itself and was celebrated at the Our Lady of Merces Church with religious fervour on Monday.

The Eucharistic celebration began with a solemn mass at 5.30am and on the occasion, the image of Infant Jesus was covered with regal robes and jewellery, taken down from a bulletproof vault and then in a solemn procession around the church, in the presence of hundreds of devotees. It was then kept for public veneration, and a crowd queued up to the altar to kiss the statue. Masses were also held at regular intervals throughout the day.

"Infant Jesus is considered miraculous by the people and this day heralds the beginning of the novenas and culminate in the feast on October 25," said Camilo Rodrigues, president of the confraria committee of the Colva church.

The Fama attracted faithful from far off places with people from neighbouring states also making a beeline to thank Infant Jesus for favours received. Childless parents who were bestowed with a child, to fulfill the vow made by them, bring the baby for the Fama and place the child on the altar during the revered umanv (kiss).

"I've come to seek blessings and to offer thanksgiving," said Irene Gomes from Varca, who was holding her newborn son, while standing in a long queue for well over an hour. Keith Fernandes from Cuncolim, standing behind Irene, has vowed to attend the Fama every year as his wife was cured from her illness.

Offerings in the form of wax shaped into different body parts like arms, legs, eyes, ears and stomachs were made in return for a pledge already made or to plead freedom from ailments.

"Devotees also take back cords as souvenirs after they touch them to the statute they consider miraculous and tie them around their wrist or hand them around their neck as they consider them to be a symbol of protection and good luck," said Nicole Mascarenhas, a parishioner .

The traffic police made elaborate arrangements for the smooth flow of traffic. [TOI]