Goa celebrates a very unique festival on July 26, every year. The Feast of St. Anne is celebrated like any other feast, where devotees from all over Goa, be it Hindu, Muslim or Christian come here to worship St. Anne on this day in the Chapel of St. Anne in Talaulim. They recite the prayer, ’Senhora, tomai pepino, dai me menino’. For those who know Portuguese, yes, you read that right! The prayer is followed by a very unusual offering, cucumbers!
How the story goes
The story surrounding the 435 year old church situated on top of a hillock was first penned down in Portuguese in 1710 by Fr. Francisco de Souza in his book Oriente Conquistado. According to the book, a Catholic hermitage was built on the hill next to the lake. One day a mysterious old lady, with a hat and a stick in her hand appeared out of the water and claimed the hermitage as her home. This event was followed by another tale where a severely sick Hindu woman dreamt of a similar looking woman, who called herself Anne, asking for a place to stay. Apparently this woman was cured and St. Anne found a home on the hillock.
Who was St. Anne
According to the Bible, St. Anne is the grandmother of Jesus Christ. Legend has it that St. Anne was childless for 40 years until she conceived Mary, the mother of Jesus.
This feast is also called Touxeanchem Fest, due to the large offering of cucumbers. Although it is known as the festival of cucumbers, there are other offerings too like dal, wooden spoons and bangles.
The prayer is made to ‘Senhora’ which is the Portuguese term for a woman. Bachelors come offering a wooden spoon while reciting the words, ‘Senhora, tomai colher, dai me mulher’ (Woman, take this spoon, give me a wife), while spinsters offer black grams while reciting,’ Senhora, tomai urido dai me marido’ (Woman, take this dal, give me a husband). Newly married couples flock to offer cucumbers and pray, ‘Senhora, tomai pepino, dai me menino’ (Woman, take this cucumber, give me a child).
The cucumbers are blessed at the feet of St. Anne and are taken home to be eaten. Grateful couples also line up to thank the deity for blessing them with a child.