As the Christian penitential season of Lent draws to a close, ... Easter is just around the corner. But wait, not so ‘fast’ (pun intended)! The last week of Lent is the most important part of Lent, and culminates in Easter, which is the most important feast in Christianity (and not Christmas, as is generally believed).
In Christendom, the sixth Sunday in Lent is Palm Sunday, and Holy week begins with Palm Sunday. On this day, in Goa, youngsters carry crosses made of palm leaves, sometimes decorated with abolim (Crossandra infundibuliformis) flowers, to the church. These are then blessed by the priest before the high mass.
PASCHAL TRIDUUM IN GOA
The Thursday in Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday (Nimanno Brestar in Konkani, meaning 'last Thursday'). In Goa, the ‘Last Supper’ is enacted in the church on this day, during which the priest washes the feet of twelve parishioners, during the High Mass. These parishioners represent the twelve Apostles of Jesus. After the main service is over, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for veneration.
On Good Friday, (Nimanno Sunkrar in Konkani, meaning ‘last Friday’), the Crucifixion of Christ is enacted. At the nave of the church, a black curtain completely covers a life-size image of the crucified Christ, on a big, black cross. During the church services, the confreres wear the opa and mursa, the vestments used by members of the confraternity. The mursa (cape) has a hood, which is used to cover their heads.
Devotees go to church, where the image of the crucified Christ is kept for veneration. The veneration is followed by mass and communion. During the sermon, the curtain is opened and the image of the crucified Christ is slowly unveiled. After that, two priests, or members of the confraternity, climb up and bring Jesus down from the cross, and place the image in the coffin below, in remembrance of that fateful day, when He was crucified.
After the sermon is over, a procession with the images of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary wends outdoors, along a fixed route. On this day, a strict abstinence and fast is observed by adults below the age of 60. There is no pealing of bells from the previous evening onwards, ie from Maundy Thursday. They peal only after the Easter midnight service to announce the Resurrection.
The day after Good Friday is Holy Saturday. In Goa, on this day, there is no mass. However, the Way of the Cross is held. At 11 pm on the same night, the Pascal Vigil begins. The Resurrection is announced by a joyous rendition of the Gloria and the merry pealing of bells, accompanied by bursting lots of crackers.
If you're curious to see or participate in these Holy Week services in Goa, you can head to any church in the state. This year, the dates are as follows:
April 10, 2022: Palm Sunday
April 14, 2022: Maundy Thursday
April 15, 2022: Good Friday
April 16, 2022: Holy Saturday
April 17, 2022: Easter