Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Thursday, December 1, 2022

Rice rituals of Goa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Goa, not only does one get captivated by the silver sands and the music of the waves, but by the magic of the vast green and yellow rice fields as well. Rice has sculpted the culture, traditions and rituals of Goa. It connects heaven to the earth and mortals to the divine. The agrarian tribes of the past depended on rice as their major means of sustenance, but were helpless with regard to anomalous weather and pests. Under these circumstances, they turned to magical doctrines and rituals. In fact all the activities connected with the cultivation of paddy were treated with the highest honor and respect. The grain of rice has been so central to Goa’s existence that, society bestowed upon it a sanctity that is reflected in many of rituals even today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the second day of the Ganesh festival in Goa, the men folk of Hindu households descend with bare feet into a nearby paddy field, offer prayers to the crop, light incense sticks and make customary offerings, before returning with some new paddy sheaves. Back home, the sheaves are worshipped again and then tied on the door frame, as if to herald the arrival of the new crop and the season of abundance. The Catholic calendar formulated and adopted in the churches of Goa synchronizes with the agricultural season. Feasts of Saint Bartholomew, Saint Sebastian and Our Lady of Perpetual Succor are celebrated during the harvest season. Novyachem fest (feast of the new crop) or Konnsachem fest (feast of the paddy grain) shows a continuity with the indigenous Hindu tradition. Blessing of the paddy, as it is known here, begins with a procession of parishioners led by the Parish priest and accompanied by a brass band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On reaching the field, holy water is sprinkled on the crop, followed by the swaying of a flag bearing the motif of the patron saint. The faithful then offer thanks to the Almighty for the plentiful harvest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The priest then ritually cuts a few sheafs of rice grains, wraps them in a piece of white cloth and the procession moves back to the church. After the thanksgiving mass, the parishioners return home with the blessed paddy, which is securely placed in their kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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