Colva, a scenic South Goa village is well known as a tourist destination and for the crystal white sands of the beach. However much before the Colva beach became a tourist destination, the village was known for the centuries old ‘Fama’ or the feast of Menino Jesus (Infant Jesus) celebrated traditionally with pomp and joy at the Our Lady of Mercy Church. Colva is the only place in Goa where the celebrations on the feast day are on a smaller scale when compared to the festive atmosphere on the Fama day, the day meant to announce the start of the novenas that lead to the feast day and blessing of the symbolic ‘made’ that is erected in front of the church. The ‘Fama’ of Menino Jesus is celebrated on October 17 at Our Lady of Merces Church, Colva.
This ritual is headed by the parish priest, along with the president of the church committee and benefactor celebrating the church feast this year. Colva Fama is celebrated with great pomp as the miraculous statue of Infant Jesus is brought down from its pedestal and kept for adoration at the church during the High Mass.
The Fama of the Menino Jesus attracts a vast number of devotees from all religions across the world, including immigrant Goans who return home especially at this time of the year. Only on this day, devotees are allowed to kiss the small statue of Infant Jesus that has long been venerated in the local church as it is considered miraculous.
Legend says that the statue of Menino Jesus was found off the coast of Mozambique in the 17th century by some sailors led by Fr. Bento Ferreira, a Jesuit missionary. Fr Bento was later posted to Colva in 1668. He had a special altar built and had the statue grandly enthroned on it.
After a few years, the Fama began. The statue was kept for public veneration during the Fama as huge crowds turned to seek its blessings. However, due to political upheavals in Portugal, the religious orders in Goa were suppressed forcing the Jesuits to flee to the Rachol Seminary, carrying along with them the statue.
The Colva villagers tried their best to get the statue back but didn’t succeed. They decided to make a replica of the statue. Their only possession a golden ring, believed to have been found after it slipped off the original statue, was mounted on the new statue. The devotion was thus restarted.
The statue is secured in a triple lock vault and celebrated every year on the second Monday of October. This Fama has brought together thousands of crowd from all over the world. On this day, one will witness the roads leading to Colva packed with devotees.
This year the parish priest of Colva informed that the High Mass will be at 5.30am, followed by masses at every hour from 8am to 12pm. Masses in the evening will be celebrated every hour from 3pm to 7pm.
Only after the Mass ends, the vicar and the president of the Confraria, expose the statue after unlocking the shutter. The statue is then brought down from its silver pedestal and handed over to the main celebrating Priest who carries it in a procession around the church. The masses continue throughout the day in the church.
The statue is then taken to the main altar and a white robe is draped over it. The devotees are then allowed to kiss the statue. Thousands of donations are done in the form of cash and gold by the devotees.