Goans celebrate these feasts in May

Come experience May in Goa, a month of festivities galore.
Goans celebrate feasts all year round.
Goans celebrate feasts all year round.Rohan Fernandes


A to-do list on a Goa holiday is never complete without exploring its architectural heritage. Many tourists marvel at the Western architectural elements found in Goa (which are attributed to the Portuguese), especially seen in churches across the state.

It's a delight to admire the detailed designs, sculptures, altars and other works of art which are centuries old. A special occasion to visit these churches is during patronal feast celebrations.

Goans celebrate feasts all year round.
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With plenty of pomp and fervor, Goans celebrate feasts all year round. These are often celebrations to commemorate sacred events of the past and those of religious significance to the community.

Following the Lenten season, a lot of feasts are held in the month of May, which are dedicated to the patrons or patronesses of various churches.

Goans celebrate feasts all year round.
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Nine days of novenas usually precede the feast day celebration. Paper flowers pinned to dresses and suits, a brass band, the procession with relics/statues, children dressed as angels and stalls of khajem (traditional sweets) are some of the common sights seen at feasts across Goa.

Goans celebrate feasts all year round.
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The parishioners of Saligao celebrate the annual feast of their patroness on the first Sunday of May. This year the feast of Mae de Deus (Mother of God) will be celebrated on May 7. 

The celebration of the feast begins with the fama, followed by the novena. Different wards from the village/parish celebrate the novena. During these nine days, small kids dress up as angels and venerate Our Lady with flowers.

Goans celebrate feasts all year round.
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On the day of the feast, a Eucharistic celebration, which attracts a lot of devotees who believe that Our Lady intercedes on their behalf, is held.

As a bonding activity, in the evening a fete is held for 3 days during the novena. There is also a fair selling Goan traditional sweets (khajem), roasted grams, toys, candles, etc which begins on the Vespers day and lasts till the feast day (until noon).

One or two tiatrs are also staged during the festivities. 

Mae De Deus Church, Saligao
Mae De Deus Church, SaligaoPhoto: Abigail Crasto

Built in 1873, the Church of Mae de Deus (Saligao) was consecrated on November 26, 1873. Observing the Neo-Gothic style of architecture of the church, one often marvels at the complexity of the design.

This year the parishioners will celebrate 150 years of the church being consecrated.

Venue: Mae De Deus, Saligao

Date: May 7, 2023 

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The feast of Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) is celebrated on the first Sunday of May at the Santa Cruz Church.This year the novena will begin on April 28, followed by the feast on May 7, 2023.

Built by the Dominicans, the church is one of the oldest in Neo-Roman style architecture. The façade of the church is a replica of Se Cathedral at Old Goa.

Goans celebrate feasts all year round.
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The feast of the Holy Cross is the main feast of the parish, usually celebrated on a Sunday since there is a lower turnout on weekdays.

The feast commemorates the Día de la Cruz (Day of the Cross) that’s celebrated across the globe on May 3.

In the old days, a fair (purumentachem fest) selling dry fish, red chillies, utensils and spices was an annual affair at this feast.

Goans celebrate feasts all year round.
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People used to travel to the village of Santa Cruz from nearby areas like Siridao, Taleigao and Panjim to sell these items, and people visited the fair to buy these essentials for the monsoon season.

But with the ease of access nowadays, a smaller village fair is seen. As part of the feast celebration, fetes are held and traditional tiatrs are also staged.

Venue: Santa Cruz Church

Date: May 7, 2023 

Goans celebrate feasts all year round.
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The village of São Matias celebrates its patron Saint Mathias’ feast on May 14. After Jesus’ resurrection, Saint Mathias was chosen to replace Judas as the twelfth apostle, following the latter’s death. 

This church dedicated to St Mathias is located on the Island of Divar. The church built between 1591 and 1597 has Mannerist Neo-Roman style architecture.

An ancient chapel dedicated to St Anthony was present at this site before the church. It is believed that the present church might have been an extension of the chapel, which is now linked to the church by an arch.

Saint Mathias Church, Malar-Divar
Saint Mathias Church, Malar-DivarPhoto: Abigail Crasto

During the novena, people put forth their intentions and petitions. A Eucharistic celebration on the feast day is followed by a procession with the relics of the saint and a small get-together.

In the evening, Kantarachi Sanz is organised, wherein locals from various wards participate and groove to old Konkani songs and mandos. There are stalls with saleable items, food and handmade products sold at affordable rates.

Venue: Saint Mathias Church, Malar-Divar

Date: May 13, 2023 (Since May 14 is a Sunday)


On the seventh Sunday after Easter, the feast of Pentecost is celebrated at the Holy Spirit Church in Margao. The feast commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles following the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. This year the feast will be held on May 28.

Many devotees remember the promise Jesus had made to the apostles of sending the Holy Spirit to guide them in their lives. It also marks the beginning of the Church’s mission in the world.

Holy Spirit Church, Margao
Holy Spirit Church, MargaoPhoto: Rohan Fernandes

The Holy Spirit Church, located in Borda, Margao, was first built in the 16th century by Jesuit missionaries. This was the first church ever to be built in Margao. However, during the 1571 Muslim invasion, it was destroyed, only to be rebuilt in 1675 in the present Indian Baroque style.

This feast is also famous for its annual fair, which is locally known as purumentachem fest. Before the onset of the monsoons, many Goans flock to Margao to this fair to shop for spices, dry fish, utensils, furniture, chillies, masalas and more. One can also find the customary stalls selling sweets like laddooskadio bodio, grams, etc.

Venue: Holy Spirit Church, Margao

Date: May 28, 2023

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