Today, the 6th of January is the day of ‘Epiphany’ or the Feast of the Three Kings. The feast is celebrated all over Goa with great joy by Catholics as well as people from other religious faiths. The villages of Reis Magos/ Verem in North Goa and Chandor and Cansaulim in South Goa are where these festivities happen on a grand scale. Also known as the traditional feast of the Epiphany, it commemorates a journey undertaken by three wise men nearly 2000 years ago to the town of Bethlehem to pay homage to infant Jesus.
The Three Kings festivities in Cansaulim
The feast is celebrated with great pomp and revelry in the village of Cansaulim. Three young boys, from the villages of Cansaulim, Arossim and Cuelim respectively, are selected to enact the role of the Three Kings. The three youngsters travel on horseback through three different paths and converge some distance away from the chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies) atop the hill at Cuelim. Dressed up as kings, and carrying the gifts of the original Three Kings – gold, frankincense and myrrh – they proceed to the chapel together to partake in the feast mass at 10.30am.
This a very famous chapel in Goa especially because of the feast. It was founded by Fr Gonçalo Carvalho in 1599 and is affiliated with the St Thomas Church, Cansaulim.
The feast of the Three Kings is organized by the “vangodds” of the gauncars (indigenous Goans) from the communities of Cansaulim, Arossim and Cuelim that helped to build the early Church in Goa. Preparations for the feast happen throughout the year and the last step is to select the 3 boys from each village to play the role of each of the Three Kings.
This feast, unfortunately, while a grand celebration, marks the end of the Christmas season. After the mass, there is a procession. The three young kings leave the chapel, stopping at different places for blessings and rest. The journey finally ends at the St Thomas Church where there is a ceremony after which the kings depart for their homes, taking different paths. Biblical accounts say that the kings were told by an angel to take a different route to their homelands. This was so that they would avoid meeting King Herod who wanted to kill the baby Jesus.
The chapel of the Three Kings is haunted
There are some interesting and spooky stories about this chapel being haunted. The most famous one tells of a time when Goa was ruled by monarchs. At the time, the land was ruled by 3 kings, each of whom had his own ideas about ruling Goa. This meant that there was no peace during this time. One day, one of the kings decided he wanted to rule Goa all by himself. And so he hatched a plot and made sure that the other two kings were dead and no longer in his way. The villagers heard about this and stormed into the castle. Fearing for his life, the last king killed himself so that the villagers wouldn’t murder him themselves. Since then, there have been multiple sightings of these 3 spirits and multiple stories doing the rounds.
According to another supposedly urban legend, every year when the feast of the Three Kings happens, unusual sounds can be heard coming from the hill. Like the sound of a feast going on. However, when villagers have gone up to check, the place is untouched and there isn’t a soul around.
There is a truly peaceful and beautiful view of the beach and surrounding village areas from the chapel so it’s still worth a visit even if there isn’t a feast happening or a wedding mass. The sunsets are unbelievable! So the next time you want to see something gorgeous, go up to the hill and watch the sun go down in a tranquil setting.
You can read more about this feast here which is also the source of much of the information in this article.