Feast of our Lady OF Hope in Chinchinim – Where Tradition Meets the Spirit of Goa

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The feast of Our Lady of Hope popularly, also called ‘Monte Saibinichem Fest’ ignites the People of Chinchinim and surrounding areas. Besides the spiritual celebration, the feast is known for its ten days long fair. Fair is particularly famous for the exhibition and sale of Goan furniture.   For centuries it brought together people of all walks of life to thank God for the rainy season and the bumper harvest. In some way, the feast has become a point of catharsis for the people who had toiled hard in their fields. The celebration of the nine days novena and the solemn celebration of the feast day powerfully manifest how from the ancient days our people intertwined their work and worship. Like every other feast in Goa, the feast of Chinchinim is a green celebration.  One of the distinctive features of this feast is a flower procession of the people.  In the good old days, during the nine days of Novena, the people from each ward who were marked for the animation of the liturgical celebration would walk with flowers in a procession from their ward singing hymns and chanting prayers to the Church and offer the flowers to Mother Mary before the Eucharistic celebration. The tradition of offering flowers to Mother Mary continues even today. The Feast of Our Lady builds profound bonds of unity among the Chinchonkars who are now also spread across the globe.  

Chinchinim is vibrant with rich history and is one of villages with a predominantly Catholic population in Goa. Some people imagined that the name of Chinchinim came from Chinch which meant a tamarind tree in Konkani.  These people think that it is possible the place was full of tamarind trees. Though this version is found in several descriptions of Chinchinim on the internet, it does not seem to have many takers among the Chinchonkars, who claim that the name of their village has come from the ancient deity, Chinchinath who was the presiding deity of the village worshiped by their forefathers. The temple of Chinchinath was located in Deussua besides other temples like Bhairav, Loknatha and Purusha. Chinchinath today has been sanskritized, as Lord Shiva though, in the ancient days he may have been local and unique deity of the Chinchonkars, particularly of the ganvkariya of Deussua (Ten Vangors). Hence, Deussua has a unique place in the Christianization of Chinchinim.  Noted historian Fr. Cosme Jose Costa, sfx studying Jesuit historian Sabastiao Gonsalves SJ, Gomes Catao and other sources concludes that the first Church of Our Lady of Hope was built in Deussua in 1590. It is important to study the historical trajectory of this history as the feast of Our Lady of Hope is directly connected with first Church of Chinchinim.    

The Catholic faith came to Chinchinim through the river Sal. Historians teach us that the village of Orlim was Christianized before the village Chinchinim. The Orlim Church was built in 1568. The Jesuit priests looking after the people of Orlim established the first community of Catholics in Deussua, before the building of Church edifice in 1590. Since both the priests  and the newly converted people had difficulty to attend the Sunday Liturgy as they had to cross the river a need for a permanent Church building was felt in Deussua. Fr. Sabastian Gonsalves writes that on the day of dedication of the Church 300 neophytes from Deussua and five hundred from Orlim received Baptism. Unfortunately, the Church that stood in Deussua was destroyed by Bijapuri invasion and in its place a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony was built by the ganvkaria of Deussua and the original Church of Our Lady of Hope was shifted to its present location and edifice was completed in 1627.  Thus, as we approach 2019, the Catholic Community dedicated to St. Anthony in Deussua, the first converts of Chinchinim are completing four twenty nine years. This means the church of our Lady of hope completes four twenty nine years. This is the reason we had this detour into the history of the Church of Our Lady of Hope on the day of its feast.

It may have shifted it physical location, the Church of Our Lady of Hope continues to be the mother of all the Catholics of Chinchinim. It also has a great space in the hearts of Hindu brothers and sisters from Chinchinim. The feast becomes a great occasion of inter-religious dialogue of life, and the people spontaneously intermingle in both the religious and cultural ceremonies associated with it. Like every other feast in Goa, it is both religious and socio-cultural event for all people that live in villages surrounding Chinchinim. Besides, the feast is an important celebration for the catholic priests who hail from Chinchinim.  For a long time, the people from Chinchinim have offered several of their sons to serve God and people as Priests. Chinchinim is called the ‘granary of priests’ because, the highest number of priests in Goa, mostly came from Chinchinim for a long time. This has led to the extension of the feast on the second day. It is tradition among the priests from Chinchinim to come home for feast stay for the night at home, and celebrate together the 8 am mass on the next day together with the Parish priest. The people call this celebration as the ‘Padrichem Fest’ and join in large numbers, as the priests from Chinchinim concelebrate a Solemn Mass in honour of Our Lady of Hope. 

The feast of Chinchinim set the entire village and its surrounding into an atmosphere of joyous celebration. It is celebrated by all the Catholics of Chinchinim and no one enjoys any special privilege. All Catholic families come forward and offer their contribution towards the celebration of the feast. The feast is indeed a mega event and is organized by the people who follow tradition and novelty with deep faith and fellowship.  Along with the beloved Parish Priest and their two loving Assistants Parish Priests, the people of Chinchinim have always celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Hope with profound faith and great fellowship. Like all people of Goa, the people of Chinchinim are also celebrative and the Feast of Our Lady of Hope naturally becomes part of the rhythm of life in Goa. Indeed, the festival elevates the spirit of the village and in keeping with the cultural ethos of Goa makes space for an inter-religious comingling of the people. Thanks to the openness of the people of Goa, several feasts and religious solemnities have evolved into spontaneous occasions of inter-religious dialogue that builds the peace and harmony among the Goans.   

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