Celebrating Three Kings of the Orient
Goa celebrates the Feast of Epiphany, also known as the Feast of the Three Kings today. It is an important feast for the villagers of Chandor, Cuelim-Cansaulim-Arrosim and Reis Magos, as much as it is for the families of young boys who re-enact the story. NT BUZZ gets you the details
The Feast of Three Kings is a popular one in Goa. Also known as ‘The Epiphany’, it is celebrated every year on January 6 in Reis Magos in North Goa, and Chandor and Cuelim-Cansaulim- Arossim in South Goa. It is dedicated to Three Kings or Magi, namely, Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior who came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Infant Jesus.
Each gift has a significance. Gold stands for Christ’s royalty, the frankincense for the fact that he is God, and myrrh is used for burial and indicates the death of the child for the salvation of humankind.
In Goa, a local tradition is followed where three young boys enact the journey of the three wise men. Three young boys from the respective villages are chosen to represent the three kings. They are dressed in plumage with crowns on their heads and are followed by people in a procession.
On the feast day three boys, each selected from one of the three villages, represent the three kings. Before the High Mass the ‘kings’ (sons of gaunkars) arrive on horses from three different routes. They are dressed in royal garments along with a crown and have many people along with them. The procession begins from their respective houses. The first stop for the king from Arossim is in front of the Chapel of St Lawrence.
From there the entourage continues along an age-old path behind the chapel to the Comunidade paddy fields to the south and then turns north to the foot of the hill in Cuelim. At the foot of the hill all three kings meet and after a short rest ascend to the top of the hill, partake in the High Mass and present their gifts to Infant Jesus at St Thomas Church. After the mass the kings go back home along a different route, as written in the scriptures to avoid King Herod, and continue with the celebration at home along with friends, neighbours and family.
Every year on January 6, Reis Magos comes alive with the colourful ‘Festa dos Reis Magos’. Here too, the story of the three kings is re-enacted by local villagers with three young boys playing the parts of the Magi.
A procession is carried out from the church that goes around the village.
This picturesque church attracts people from far and near. Early in the morning the traditional brass brand can be heard. It evokes a festive mood.
January 6 is an auspicious day in Chandor with the celebration of three feasts – Our Lady of Remedies, Our Lady of Bethlehem and the Three Kings Feast.
In 1930s after the collapse of a tower of the church that was then called Our Lady of Remedies Church, a new one was rebuilt and the church was renamed Our Lady of Bethlehem. Generally, the feast mass is celebrated by priests from Chandor.
Here also the tradition of re-enacting the story of the Magi is followed, with three boys from different wards leading a procession from the chapel of Our Lady of Piety on Monte Cota.