Lenten Customs in Goa
Goa has a large Catholic population, and festivals such as Christmas, New Year and Easter are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. For Goa's Catholics, Easter is an important festival, and this is preceded by a forty-day penitential period of Lent.
During these forty days, there are several Lenten observances, one of which is that Catholics fast and abstain from meat.
The Lenten seasons begins on Ash Wednesday. On this day, there are special masses in churches across Goa, during which the priest applies ash on the foreheads of devotees, saying, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." This serves to remind us about both humility and repentance, death and new life.
The last week of Lent, known as Holy Week, begins on Palm Sunday. Celebrated a week before Easter, it commemorates Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Palms are blessed in church on this day.
The Thursday in Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday, the highlight of which is the 'washing of feet' in the church. The institution of the priesthood is also celebrated on this day. In recent years, Goa's has also seen the custom of distributing hot cross buns after mass on Maundy Thursday.
Good Friday is the most solemn day in Christianity and marks the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.
The day after Good Friday is called Holy Saturday. On the night of this day, there is an Easter vigil, which is followed by the celebration of Easter masses in churches across the state.
Holy Week ends with Easter Sunday, which marks the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and is the most important feast for Catholics.