The Basilica of Bom Jesus or Borea Jezuchi Bajilika is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Old Goa, India. The Basilica holds the relics of St. Francis Xavier in Goa. Referred to as “Goencho Saib” (Lord of Goa) by Goans, he is also the Patron Saint of Goa. Every year on the 3rd of December, The Feast of St. Francis Xavier is celebrated with great pomp in the beautiful state of Goa. Both the cathedral as well as the intersecting roads near it are decorated beautifully and entire Goa comes alive with festivities and merrymaking.
Why is the feast so significant?
The feast commemorates the dedication and service that Saint Francis Xavier committed himself to Jesus through his outreach of faith and social work in Europe and throughout Asia. He was one of the greatest Catholic missionary, who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lay people round the Globe. The date of the feast coincides with the day when the saint died during his voyage to China.
Mortal Remains of the Saint to be displayed once in 10 years
As per the legend, it is said that when the saint’s body was brought to Goa after a year to be buried, it was found that the body was as fresh as ever. Till Today, his body is preserved in a silver casket at Old Goa. Older than 450 years, his remains are still incorrupt and can be viewed by the public once in every ten years. The last time when his body was displayed was in 2014 and hence the next one being in the year 2024. The exposition lasts for about 6 weeks. Starting from November last week to Early January of next year.
Roadside fair at the feast – A Heaven for Street Shoppers
Vendors from all over the state put up their stalls around the Church during the feast. They are operational right from the start of Novenas(Special Prayer services) that happen from November 21st onwards. The whole lane near the Bom Basilica is blocked for this cause. You can find a wide range of products right from handmade products like Trinkets, souvenirs and jewellery to mouth-watering festival treats at this fair. With the right bargain, you might even get lucky to take these goodies home at jaw-dropping prices.
Lakhs of people from all around the world pour in for this yearly feast. So, You can imagine the amount of traffic you will have to wade through to reach Old Goa. Our advice for you is to take your two-wheelers out there which will be an easier option to find parking as well. For those wanting to buy things at the fair, You might want to remove at least 2-3 hours from your schedule to shop without any hassle. And, last but not the least, get your own candles to light outside the Cathedral to avoid getting preyed by groups of Street Hawkers out there.
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Feature image Courtesy: Chill Goa