A soulful journey back to hearth and home

As the departed return for a day, All Souls Day serves as a religious occasion that bonds us poignantly with our loved ones again
All Souls Day in Goa.
All Souls Day in Goa.Picture Courtesy: Rohan Fernandes

Picture this – you are 11 years old, you hear the church bell peal at noon and you are still in bed because you want to make the best of the few days of vacation that you have left.

The radio is on, and your mother is cooking in the kitchen. Your father has gone to the market to fetch some fish. Mama lets you sleep in, but you know that papa thinks that it is only okay to sleep a few hours more past 7 am.

You are trying to get those few extra minutes of sleep, but all your attention is naturally diverted towards listening hard to the sound of a bike pulling up in the driveway. The bike pulls up, and you jump out of bed. A few moments later, you hear a peculiar knock on the front door. Papa's home. And although you try hard to rub your eyes and pretend that you were awake all this while, he knows.   

People seen praying for the faithfully departed souls.
People seen praying for the faithfully departed souls. Picture Courtesy: Rohan Fernandes

Fast forward a few years – you are 20 now and a sudden heart attack has taken him away. Papa’s gone. It is just you and your mother now. She lets you sleep in a little longer because she knows that it is hard to accept the fact that you will never hear that particular knock again. But one day that is a little easier to wake on is November 2.   


Every year, this day is observed as All Souls Day. It is believed that on this day the gates of heaven are opened and all our loved ones come home to us in spirit for one whole day.


The flower markets are blooming with flowers of different shapes, colours and sizes. Vendors sit and pluck petals off to sell them to people who are decorating the graves of their loved ones, while others request customised garlands and bouquets of flowers, one better than the next. The cemetery is lit up, and there is a sense of calmness and warmth as you walk into the cemetery as opposed to how one would usually feel – creeped out by a place of death.  

Graves decorated with candles and flowers.
Graves decorated with candles and flowers. Picture Courtesy: Rohan Fernandes


History enthusiast and heritage lover, Frazer Andrade recalled several traditions that have died down over the years. He said that on November 1, at noon, people were allowed to ring the church bell in a particular fashion.

The reason behind doing this was because they believed that they would attain an extra indulgence for their prayers. “As a child, I remember queues of people flocking to their respective churches or chapels to ring the bell because this was the only day that they would get an opportunity to do so,” added Frazer.  


Adding to Church Tradition, contrary to other days of the year, Catholics are allowed to receive Holy Communion more than once a day. This is possible since Catholics have the choice of attending more than one holy Mass on this day to pray for the souls of the departed. The attire is usually sober colours like black, white or blue, which symbolise mourning. Apart from this, people also pray the holy Rosary a total of four times in their homes on this day.  

All Souls Day in Goa.
Call it tourist raj or road show on Parra's coconut lane


The food menu consists of Goan cuisine and dishes like vindaloosanna, vegetables and boiled rice. Dessert after lunch is definitely a must! Wonn (commonly known as godshe) is prepared at home and a portion of it is kept on the threshold of the house. The reason behind this is so that it is accessible to crows since it is believed that the crows represent the souls of our loved ones.   

All Souls Day in Goa.
Sounds from Goa


Mischief is part and parcel of this day. “The steps of the church which were usually empty would mysteriously see pots of plants lined up on this particular day. This was to spook people into thinking that the ‘ghosts' or souls have moved them about,” said author and librarian, Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues  

As the clock strikes 12 and the church bell is rung, there is an unexpected knock at the door. And although it is only a woman selling fish, on the other end of the window is a crow. Papa's home.

All Souls Day in Goa.
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