Christmas, the ultimate expression of love, dawned on Goa as church bells tolled across the State heralding the birth of baby Jesus and sending the State into a joyous frenzy of celebrations that will last until January 6, 2024, the feast of Epiphany.
Christmas has an infectious charm and holds a special place in the hearts of people everywhere. In the days prior to Christmas, frantic preparations set ovens glowing warmly with Christmas goodies that add a dash of sweetness to the celebrations.
The countryside will stay dotted with impressive light decorations spreading the glow of happiness and radiating the spirit of Christmas for the next 12 days.
For many, Christmas is incomplete without attending the midnight mass.
A new mother, Larissa Dias, from Margao, had taken her 8-month-old daughter in a pram for Mass. "It doesn’t feel like Christmas if I don’t attend the midnight mass. I knew how people react when a kid cries in the church so I packed a lot of goodies to keep her from crying.”
“My kid is already 10 kilos and I cannot carry her throughout the service, so the pram is my all-time favourite and, also, my husband did his part by carrying her in turns."
In his Christmas message, Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrao prayed for peace and shared his concern about the war. My mind and heart go to the place where Jesus was born and where he was hailed as the Prince of Peace. That place is Bethlehem in Palestine, where innocent people are being killed today, he lamented.
THE PARTY SCENE
Meanwhile, Christmas doesn't go down without parties and Goan hotels, restaurants, and open-air venues hosted people who wanted to kick in the celebrations by staying awake in the night and party.
Dennis Costa, from Porvorim, decided to come to Verna to Quinta De Valadares for his Christmas Ball. “Most of my friends are from Margao, and through experience, I know that the best Christmas dances happen in the South. The live bands and DJs belt out some very interesting and peppy music. The place gets so jam-packed that you end up meeting new people and making new friends,” said Dennis.
Christmas is that time of the year when all the local food flavours come to life. From the savoury and tangy sorpotel cooked in the traditional kunnes (earthen pots) to roast chicken, Goan homes have it all.
Rohit Dias could not wait to have the festache jevonn (feast food) cooked by his mother-in-law. “My mother-in-law makes the best sorpotel and this year she made extra for me.
"She makes it a few days prior so that it matures with time. So, we make it a point to come for lunch at her place on Christmas day and the dinner is at our place in Verna,” he said.
And for Vanessa Dias from Margao, Christmas means her mother's food. “We always go to my mother’s house in Chandor for dinner, because we usually have a tradition of barbecue planned on Christmas day. The entire family comes over – cousins and aunts. It’s a long evening for us all,” said Vanessa.
While Goa has gotten into Christmas celebrations and mood, tourism stakeholders at a few places in the coastal belt are expecting a surge of visitors from December 27 till the New Year.
The Goa police, meanwhile, have assured of elaborate traffic arrangements to ensure vehicle flow on major roads is smooth.