“You are dust and to dust you shall return…” – these are the words the priest chants as he smears ashes on the foreheads of Catholics in all churches on the auspicious day of Ash Wednesday. It is not uncommon for the Lent season to come and go with little notice outside Goa. After all the occasion is a very spiritual one and is unlike most other Goan celebrations whose presence is felt by people all over India.
Once the Carnival revellery dies down, the Christian penitential season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. This is followed by 40 days of fasting, in imitation of Jesus Christ’s fasting in the wilderness before He began His public ministry. It is also the time to remember Christ’s sufferings and prepare for His Resurrection through prayer, abstinence and fasting.
Here’s a brief tour on the season of Lent in Goa for the unenlightened.
What is Lent in Goa?
Lent is a religious period observed by Christians in Goa and all over the world. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. So what’s the point of Lent anyway? Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance and repentance of sins.
The season of Lent marks perhaps the most important even in Christianity. The resurrection of Lord Jesus – Which is on Easter. If there was no Easter, there would be no Christianity. Jesus’s suffering is highlighted throughout the Lent season in Goa and the entire ordeal focuses on repenting ones sins.
Pre Lent Festivities
Before the Lent season Goan’s make sure there is no shortage of fun. Why? The Carnival of course. Sure it’s not as big as the ones in South America but nevertheless it’s a sight to behold. With a plethora of non stop floats and the beloved King Momo. The Carnival makes its way through the streets of Goa one city at a time. Leaving joy and happiness in its wake. Despite the religious undertones, the festival today has come to be a cultural highlight of the state, rather than of the religion.
Religious Practices for Lent in Goa
So how does one purify the mind and soul? During the 40 days churches all over Goa hold the ‘Way of the Cross’. The Way of the Cross is marked by fourteen stations, each punctuated by a picture of Jesus. As the cross is moved from one station to the next, short relevant reflections are recited.
This is done to mark Jesus’s walk before being crucified with two thieves.
Many goans fast during the season of lent. Some more stricter than others. A common abstain during length is non vegetarian food and alcohol.
Fish however is often times an exception. After all its Goa. Some people even go as far as not drinking water during certain hours in a day. That’s some real dedication right there.
Tourism during Lent and what to expect
If you’re planning on visiting Goa during the lent season then you would be glad to know that most things would be perfectly fine. However you can still expect a few places to be closed for some time on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Christians (not all), avoid partying and drinking during lent so keep that in mind. It is highly recommended that you make it in time for Carnival.