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Milagres Vodlen fest now and then – By Owen Rodrigues

By January 17, 2024Articles
kallianpurdotcom: 17/01/2024

Our Lady of Milagres Parish feast is celebrated in the third week of January every year. The tradition of vodlen fest goes back to century old procession taking place at nadukudru At that time, one of the parishioners who was in hiding, Menino Francies Luis of Nadu Kudru, Tonse, secretly carried away the Miraculous Statue from the devastated church after praying and promising that he would place her with due honor when the ordeal was over. He carried her to his home in Tonse and venerated her secretly with his family and other Christians in night vigils with rosaries and reading of the Christian Purana (Kristapurana) of Fr Thomas Stevens SJ. The statue had sometimes to be hidden in other houses and especially in one Hindu house whose descendants were honored every year with a candle on the occasion of the Annual parish feast.

When things brightened up with the enemies’ death, Priests came, after the return of Christians from captivity, the Miraculous Statue was brought back with great honor and Jubilation amidst rejoicing through the river and road in a colorful two-mile long route boat procession and re-enthroned in the church on the high Altar(currently installed in the Shrine ). In memory and honor of this event, a yearly boat procession of our Lady on a gaily and artistically decorated throne (cherell) with much solemnity grandeur, and pomp was celebrated at first from Nadu Kudru to the church on the eve of the parish feast from the ancient house of M.r Menino Francis Luis; but in the latter years the procession was from its neighboring Honappa Kudru from a house of his direct descendants for over a century. In the final years the procession commenced from Our Lady’s Island Property of Barikudru due to the uncertainty of tides to bring it from Tonse.

The statue used for those processions is the one now used for Cherell in the church for processions on the feast days. This statue was found on the Malpe shore and was delivered by the fishermen to the church. It is believed to be the statue placed by Vasco da Gama on the Thonse Par Islands when he landed there and which he named the St. Mary’s Islands. That is history!

Now in current years our child hood days vodlen fest is thrilling as elders and the coming guests would give us money to spend during fair as one or two rupees were of great value. Mostly this money was spent on ice candy where ice cream wasn’t there or beyond our reach. Other items to spend were water balloons and on the ‘cradle’ or the giant wheel of our time. Sometimes we have to give account of our spending to our parents if asked. Things popularly available in the fair were religious items, watermelons and oranges. Balloons, handmade wooden toys plastic toys etc. Girls favourite were bangles store. Many sweets stalls called ‘Mittai’ and every household will definitely take’ festhachi Mittai’ home.

On the vespers day there was an event of ‘vojen’ bringing gifts or offerings to Church in procession by Pirjenth ( President for the event) in Band. Evening pirjenth would come with cherrel to Church then the vespers psalms were sung. Before the vespers, neighbouring church priests come and upon their arrival church bells and crackers ’khosno’ sound. There was a peculiar sound of the cradles as they run over coir used as bearings for the wheel. Together with the band and the noise, atmosphere was of thrilling feast! Fortnight before the feast was the Madi feast. It is raising the church flag on a high tree or on a areca nut tree called Madi in konkani. This meaning announcement of coming fest.

However in Milagres Church compound was a teak wood tree in front for that purpose. After the vespers lot of fire works were there. There were various kind like dance of the peacock, glowing church. Water falls flower vase, squirrel and shooting stars. People use to come from far to enjoy this extravagant site. Following day the feast day. Before the high mass. Church will honor the Feast Pirjent, founders of the church, benefactor and all who have contributed in bringing up the church and donors with a candles.

After the mass the current Pirjent would hand over ‘ waari bodi ‘ or sengol to the following year Pirjenth who will be the president for the year. Sometimes on the following day there was a election for the coming year pirjent the event was called ‘elisanv’ All together the festivities started from compri Sunday till the weekend as the metaai and other shops were also there like wise the crowd.

The vodlen fest was for all category children will have their enjoyment of toys and ice creams, youth will enjoy icecream with a wink to girls, adults busy buying festache sweets metaai and watermelons and santrna oranges. And elders would offer thanksgiving to Patron Our Lady of Miracles for the care and gift of family.

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