Navelim Feast and History

  1. Introduction

Like any other place, the village of Navelim too has many customs out of which the Procession, from Mount Carmel Chapel Telaulim to the Our Lady of Rosary church, is one. For the last one decade there has been much debate regarding this custom. In this paper I have tried to research the actual custom as and how it was started, how it is continued now and what were the reasons that created chaos in the parish of navelim because of this particular custom.

  1. The Procession

Thousands of devotees participate in the traditional lantern procession from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel at Telaulim to Our Lady of Rosary Church grounds in the wee hours of the second Monday of November, marking the beginning of the novena of the feast of Our Lady of Rosary on the third Wednesday of the same month. The procession follows a 3-kilometre-long route from the chapel to the church. With an ever increasing number of devotees participating in this procession the venue for the mass has been shifted to the larger grounds of Rosary School, just opposite the Church. After wending its way through the two villages the procession culminates at the Rosary school ground where the chaplain of Our Lady of Mount Carmel used to celebrate the early morning Mass at 5.30 a.m.

The entire route is richly decorated with arches to welcome the thousands of devotees from Telaulim, Navelim, and other villages. The procession with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima mounted on a beautifully decorated vehicle begins at around 3.30 am. The faithful, young and the old, men and women, carry lanterns and participate in the procession.

  1. The Tradition

The traditional procession, which is more than 100-year-old, 400 to be precised according to some,[1] is very popular and its beginning is given to the fact that the original inhabitants of Telaulim, who were mostly milk vendors,[2] used to leave for the Western Ghats on the eve of the first day of the Novena of its village Patroness, Our Lady of Rosary, to fetch cattle for the three-day fair known as the ‘Boilanchi feri’, which is a largest fair held in the whole of Salcete.

Originally, the one-day fair according to legend consisted of only three to four stalls. Superstition was that on the feast day there was a gathering of devils in the area in front of the church. Administrator of the Salcete Taluka Francisco Salvador Gomes was successful in warding off this superstition and convincing sellers to set up the fair for a longer period. Today the fair is one of the most popular fairs of the state, though selling of animals for farming, such as goats, cows and buffaloes is no more the pourpose but furniture and other household items.

Initially, it appears that it was the Telaulim Chapel’s patroness, Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s image, which was carried in procession to Navelim Church for safe keeping due to fear of invasions as men folk of the village left for the Western Ghats. As time passed, this image was substituted with that of Our Lady of Fatima donated by the late Jose Roque Caetano Pires through the good offices of the Regedor of Telaulim and a philanthropist late Jose Minguel Pires de Menezes.

  1. The Conflict

Some years back a conflict arose between the villagers of Telaulim and the then parish priest of the Rosary Church Rev Fr. Leonardo Moraes over who should have the precedence of saying the Mass. According to the parish priest, the novena being that of the Patroness of the church, it should be the parish priest who should have precedence over the celebration of the first mass. The decision much to the dislike of the people from Telaulim, it created an uproar as a result of which there arose misunderstandings between the people of Telaulim and the parish priest of Rosary church. The parish priest demanded that the use of fireworks to be reduced as it created too much of inconvenience to the environment or else he would have to force to stop the use of fireworks. The people misunderstood it with stopping of the traditional procession and the rumor that the parish priest wants to stop the procession started to spread as a result of which the situations kept worsening until the Archbishop intervened. To overcome this problem the Archbishop of Goa decided to appoint a priest to celebrate the mass.[3]

While inquiring about this conflict, Fr Leonardo stated that[4] he never wanted to stop the procession as such, but the way it was held needed to be changed. Firstly, the First mass of the novena should be according to whomever the parish priest delegates. Secondly, the mass should be held in the church. Thirdly that the damage caused to the environment because of the excessive use of firecrackers was to be stopped. Fourthly, the procession was fully sponsored by the political personalities. So he wanted to take it from the political, to the ecclesiastical organisation and fifthly, instead of waiting to take the statue of Our Lady back to the chapel on the 8th of December, it could be taken back on the very next day of procession as according to him the purpose for which the statue was kept for such a long time was for monetary benefits that devotees would provide as they came to venerate the statue. And this is the very reason according to him that hinders Telaulim from being a parish.

  1. Analysing the Canons
  • According to Can 5, this custom being more than hundred years old is an immemorial custom. Some claim it to be 400 years old. The chapel was constructed in 1783. So 400 years old custom is questionable. Whether the procession started the same year or the following years is not surely known.
  • According to Can 24, it was introduced by the Christian community, not being against the Divine law, was reasonable one.
  • Rev Manuel Antonio Azevedo, who undertook the construction work of the Mount Carmel chapel, who was also the assistant to the parish priest of Rosary Church, was appointed as the first chaplain of the chapel. He was given the privilege to say the first Novena Mass of Our Lady of Rosary Church. The precedence over the first novena mass is considered to be the privilege of the chaplain of the Mount Carmel chapel only.[5] But there is no valid documentation if it was so. If the privilege was only to Fr Manuel Azevedo as a chaplain, then according to Can 78§2, it should have been ceased once Fr Manuel ceased to be the chaplain. But the privilege to the chaplains continued for a long time. According to Can 76§2, the immemorial possession of a privilege gives rise to the presumption that it has been granted. Also according to Can 26, the custom acquires the force of the law as it has been observed for a period of more than thirty years. According to Can 28, there is no revocation clause expressed in the law. So an immemorial custom, whether universal or particular cannot be revoked.

 

  1. Personal opinion

 

This custom cannot be revoked yet there is a serious need to take into consideration the third fourth and fifth argument given by Fr Leonardo Moraes. The first two arguments according to me hold no stand. The first argument, going with the Cans 5, 26, 28, 76§2 and 78§2 the parish priest though being the juridical person cannot take away the privilege, without a serious reason, which has lasted more than thirty years. The second argument doesn’t fit in my thinking as the first novena mass is participated by people of various faiths and from different villages, which would be than difficult to accommodate them in and around the church with the place that was available then as the present parking lot infront of the cemetery didn’t exist then. The third argument is to be taken into consideration as Pope Francis time and again reminds us to take care of the environment specially in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’.  The fourth argument again is a matter of consideration as the procession was becoming a means of gaining people’s attention by political personalities for their own gains. The procession should help people to foster the devotion and grow spiritually and not a means for some political agendas. And finally, the fifth argument. The church specially in Goa time and again is accused for collecting money, by the non-Catholic elements and sometimes by Catholic themselves. If the purpose of keeping the statue for such a long time is for monetary benefits than it is time that the statue be taken back sooner. According to Can 24 §2, a custom needs to be reasonable to acquire a law. If keeping of the statue for a long time has no reason than it can be taken back, no more considering it as a part of the custom.

 

  1. Conclusion

 

The procession from Mount Carmel chapel Telaulim to Our lady of Rosary church Navelim is an immemorial custom which has been followed for more than 100 years. Though it began with a purpose, no longer the purpose is the same. It is now just a tradition that is continued as a commemoration of what was done in the past. There has been a lot of debate over the way the procession is held presently. Yet it continues to exist drawing people of different faiths and walks of life from and around Telaulim-Navelim.

 

[1] 400 years old Procession keeps Telaulim awake. Times of India. 10th November 2009. [on-line] (accessed on 12th September 2018) available from http//timesofindia.navelim.10_november_2009.in; Internet.

[2] Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues. How the feast of Our Lady of Rosary and Salcete’s cattle fair came to be linked.  The Buzz in The Navhind Times. 11th November 2014.  [on-line] (accessed on 12th September 2018) available from http//navhindtimesgoa.navelimfeastcelebration.11_november_2014.in; Internet

[3] Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues. How the feast of Our Lady of Rosary and Salcete’s cattle fair came to be linked.  The Buzz in The Navhind Times. 11th November 2014

[4] When interviewed by Sem Elroy Da Gama.

[5] J.M. Ferrao. Tollavle Mhozo Ganv.  Souvenir: Telaulim on the threshold of the new millennium. 1999.

 

 

Bibliography

Ferrao, J.M. Tollavle Mhozo Ganv.  Souvenir: Telaulim on the threshold of the new millennium. 1999.

Rodrigues, Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa .How the feast of Our Lady of Rosary and Salcete’s cattle fair came to be linked.  The Buzz in The Navhind Times. 11th November 2014.  [on-line] (accessed on 12th September 2018) available from http//navhindtimesgoa.navelimfeastcelebration.11_november_2014.in; Internet

400 years old Procession keeps Telaulim awake. Times of India. 10th November 2009. [on-line] (accessed on 12th September 2018) available from http//timesofindia.navelim.10_november_2009.in; Internet.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

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