The wayside crosses, seen in Goa, all form a part of Goa's beautiful landscape. As a way of acknowledging their significance, Bigfoot Museum, Loutolim, has announced a photo contest on wayside crosses.
Maendra Alvares, the founder of Bigfoot Museum feels that these wayside crosses are a reflection of peoples’ trust in these holy symbols.
He says, “There's something spiritual about these crosses. They exude a certain warmth. People gather together next to a cross to pray. While passing by, they will say a pray for you sometimes. It’s not about praying for only yourself. If someone is ill in the village, they will come together to pray for him or her. It’s a place where people meet."
"There’s more of a give and take that one witnesses at such crosses. The crosses are a place where you find communal harmony as people from different religions come to pray, even if it’s for a few minutes of silence as they journey along the way,” he adds.
WHY A PHOTO CONTEST?
There are different types of such crosses, says Maendra. The difference lies in the purpose and also sometimes style. Maendra elucidates how some crosses can be seen from three sides and sometimes a four-side view. Some crosses are built where roads meet, some are boundary crosses, etc.
Crosses are not only built in someone’s memory, “Some crosses like the famous Handi Khuris, in Curtorim, was built while building the sluice gate. You see this in Raia, too. When they open the sluice gate, they have a litany. Some crosses were built in certain areas where people would be afraid to go. These crosses were meant for protection; some were built when building a bandh, so that it should not break.”
Maendra goes on, “Each cross has a unique story or legend and through this contest, we want to document this. Nowadays, people are not aware of these stories. If they are aware, they will know the importance of these crosses and appreciate them better.”
The focus is on the raw and rustic nature of these crosses. Maendra rues how people, not realising this significance, go about modernising the crosses to an extent where this harmony with nature is lost. Maendra explains how these wayside crosses blended with Goa’s landscape.
He says, “You will notice that these crosses keep changing colour with the seasons because of the lime plaster over them which gives a good effect. For instance, in the rains, it absorbs moisture and becomes slightly greenish, thus blending with the greenery. After the rains, it becomes greyish in colour, a time when the hay is of a similar hue. When it’s the feast time in summer, the crosses are painted again, so that they become white. These crosses blend with nature.”
BIG FOOT'S CONNECTION WITH CROSSES
Maendra's ‘cross connection’ didn't start by chance or accident. It was born from an observation of how crosses impact individuals and the community.
In 2005, he had a travelling exhibition on crosses at different places in Goa. The crosses were what Maendra had collected over the years, and included those from his travels from the world over. He then opened a museum for these crosses at Big Foot in 2006, “I started with about 500 crosses. Now, it has crossed 1,400 crosses. I collected these during my travels or asked people to give them to me. Some gave them to me since they knew about my collection. Visitors to the museum too, like a bishop from Africa, who visited, and went back and sent a cross for the collection.”
Maendra next released a book, titled In Search, which was a book giving a description of crosses at the museum. “I would not call it a catalog. It is a book with a description of these crosses and has a section on crosses in Goa along with the legends or stories behind them,” says Maendra.
In May this year, a month when Goans usually gather at wayside crosses to pray the rosary and celebrate ‘cross feasts’, Maendra hosted, at the museum, an exhibition of crosses in Goa. “I took pictures of some of these crosses, but did not frame them. We put these pictures in a circle form onto big rosary beads because it’s at these crosses that you usually pray the rosary,” Maendra explains why he merged two symbols – the rosary and cross – for the exhibition.
WHAT WINNERS WILL RECEIVE
Participants stand a chance to help in the documentation of the cross history. Selected entries will be published in a book with due credit.
The top 100 photos will be on display at the Bigfoot Art Gallery, in Loutolim. If that’s not incentive enough, the first prize winner will get ₹ 10,000; the second prize winner will get ₹ 8,000 and the third prize winner will get ₹ 5,000. There will be five special prizes of ₹ 2,000 each, too.
Each entry should contain the name of the cross, its location, a brief history (why and when was it built).
Entries can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or whatsapp on +91 7350746935
Participants can send any number of entries
Last date for submission: July 30, 2023