As evening approaches, the noise gradually fades, giving way to a peaceful silence across the Old Goa landscape. The sky turns colour as splashes of dusk red are spread across its expansive canvas.
The chill December air envelopes you in a Christmassy feel as you drive toward the 17th century monument of Santa Monica.
The first nunnery in the East now serves as the Museum of Christian Art (MoCA) and houses priceless artifacts of Christian art. The Courtyard Café, decked in Christmas lights and colours, readies to welcome the ‘Carol on the Hills’, third edition.
The once-closed cloister opens its doors for a delightful pop-up market and concert series on December 18 and 19.
ABOUT THE EVENT
It is interesting to note that the Santa Monica convent once suffered a massive fire on the eve of Christmas in 1636 (later restored by Dr Diogo De Santa Anna).
Today, with its unique heritage setting, the program that began in 2021 aims to revive and promote traditional arts that are slowly fading away.
Speaking about the program, Natasha Fernandes, curator of MoCA, says, “The cloistered nuns of the earlier centuries, who resided in the convent, were not just devoted to prayer and meditation."
"They were also skilled in needlework, embroidery, and singing from the choir loft of the Church – now the present-day Museum of Christian Art,” she explains.
This year, the pop-up market showcases unique handcrafted items from artisans across Goa. Bindu Vaz is eager to showcase her 89-year-old mother, Vimla’s knitted woollen socks and berets.
She says, “The idea to set up a stall and showcase her hand-knitted beret caps was inspired by my friend, Milan, who met my mom and said, ‘Why don’t you make some things that we can display and sell at the Christmas pop-up market?’”
Sure enough, she promptly received a consignment of cozy socks and colourful berets from her mother, ready for sale at the market.
The third edition welcomes newcomers, Viva Francotunes (December 18, 2023) from Alliance Francaise to join the choral performances during the two-day event.
Shamika Andrade, who heads the Panjim branch, says, “It is always a pleasure to collaborate with the Museum of Christian Art.
"It feels great practicing for our carol session on the 18th of December, and it’s amazing to see how everyone is making it special by participating or coming up with ideas,” says she.
The carols selected are the French versions of popular English tunes.
While Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer makes his comeback on stage, it is Handel’s Messiah (Part 1), that turns our attention to the birth of the Lord.
Inside the sombre setting of the church, the Stuti Choral and String Ensemble (December 19, 2023) will present the complete Part 1 for the first time, replete with jubilant solos and choruses.
The 75-member choir, 20-member ensemble, and four vocal soloists will begin with the prophecy of the Messiah, followed by his arrival on earth, and end with the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus from the second part.
Mark your date, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this one.
WHAT TO EXPECT
NATAL POP-UP: Stock up on exclusive, handcrafted gifting items from artists across Goa.
DEANDRA'S CAKES will serve a range of delectable refreshments at the Alfresco Café.
CAROLS AND CHRISTMAS MUSIC: Witness Goa’s choral ensembles lift the Christmas spirit with soul-stirring performances.
The groups include Viva Francotunes by Alliance Francaise, Fabiola Lopes e Fernandes and a group from Old Goa, Child’s Play Foundation and Alisha Pais on December 18, 2023; and Daniel Dias’ harp performance and Stuti Choral Ensemble and Orchestra on December 19, 2023.
For the little ones, MoCA’s craft station will keep their creative hands busy making dazzling paper stars, and charming young Christmas angels will participate in the Angels Procession on December 19, 2023 at 6 pm for children who are three-years-old and above.