Sunday, November 15, 2009




Today, a contract is given to a caterer to provide the required food items for a wedding, which are transported to the wedding hall and served to the crowd by the caterer’s waiters & waitresses.

In days gone by, people did not order catering from outside; they hired a cook, who
prepared all the required food at home.

Dishes were prepared in a “randpacho mattov” (cooking shed), which was arranged
behind or adjacent to the house from where they served dishes to the crowd in the mattov by forming a human chain of helpers - boys/men, girls/women and children.

We had the famous Diogo João cook from Parra village at the time, who was one of the
best cooks in the whole of Bardez. He and his helpers/waiters belonged to the Mhar
community. He was the cook of the masses - except bhattkars!

He prepared the following items and served them at weddings:

As soon as the first dance was over, “Letri ani olive ghalun gaiechea haddancho sop”
(beef-bone soup with macaroni alphabets and olives) was served in a soup plate.
Although a spoon was provided, many people preferred to drink soup directly from the
plate as if they ate “kunji” (soft rice) in a “vattli” (brass plate.)

After the third dance was over, a cheese plate containing one each of beef-roast
sandwich, pork-roast sandwich, chutney sandwich, a croquette and a chicken patty were served.

If a spoon or fork or a dry item like croquette or patties fell down, it was simply picked up from the ground and placed back in the plate; even if somebody saw, it didn’t matter.
What mattered was the service; without missing anyone. Children then never threw away anything that fell down; we just picked it up, blessed and ate it.

After the fifth dance was over, chicken “ixttuv” (stew) followed by pork sausage pulau with “kismis” (raisins) was served. Although a fork was provided, most people preferred to eat the pulau with hand, just as they ate the rice at home.

The basmati rice used then was so good that the moment it was cooked, its aroma filled the whole house as well as the mattov and beyond! During the Portuguese rule, the best basmati rice came from Pakistan.

Diogo Joao’s every dish was delicious but his specialty was ixttuv! People just loved it!

As soon as the last dance was over, Bebinca and black coffee was served in a “chikr-pir” (cup-n-saucer.) A cup of black coffee early in the morning was fantastic, especially if one had too many rounds of drinks.

Diogo João Chef also gave crockery on hire. His waiters went around with a wooden tray containing wine cups with pedestals embossed with beautiful grape designs, which were filled with red wine.

The bridal couple was given one each large glass. They cut the cake followed by the
“saud” (toast), which was raised mostly by a parish priest or by any other
dignitary/educated person from the area.

The toast was mostly raised in Konkani but well-to-do people, including bhattkars, had it in Portuguese. A local singer would come on the stage and offer to sing a “saudichem kantar” (a toast song) in the traditional Goan manner.

How can we despise the Mhar community when they have exuded wonderful dishes for
our celebrations?


As I mentioned earlier, nobody was ready to share a meal with a Mhar. Not only that,
nobody would eat anything prepared by a Mhar.

Until the beginning of the last century, priests in Goa came from two main
communities/castes – Brahmin and Charddo. Both castes were well off.

A poor man was not considered for priesthood, even if he wished. It was only towards the middle of the last century that boys from poor and middle class families joined
seminaries and became priests.

Although the Mhar community members were experts in cooking food, priests who
mostly came from the above-mentioned two castes were reluctant to employ them as

By the second quarter of the last century many Goan cooks shifted to greener pastures in other parts of India as well as the Gulf, thus creating a vacuum of cooks in Goa.

This is when the priests in Churches hired cooks from the Mhar community. As a matter of fact, they were over-utilized i.e., they were made to do all Church-related work, including pealing of the bells, digging of graves, and in addition they were required to cook for the priests – minimum three members – parish priest and two curates.

Sometimes, a Church had five or more priests – parish priest and four-five curates, plus guest priests.

Speaking of food, we had an obese parish priest in our Church in the mid 1950s, Fr.
Caetano José Orneias de Sta Rita Colaço from Curtorim. He was so fat that he had
difficulty in entering the palanquin, which is why the pede always cursed him, and so did the “kuzner” (cook), who belonged to the Mhar community, because he was asked to cook a variety of dishes throughout the day.

Most priests then served the parish on foot - very few made use of machila or palanquin; we have two of them in our Church – one was used for the local priests and the other for the Church dignitaries like the Bishop, etc.

But this particular parish priest was lazy to walk and insisted to carry him in a palanquin even on the “Festa de Novidades” or ‘Noveachem Fest’ in Konkani, to the place where the new paddy sheaves are blessed, which is hardly one hundred and fifty meters away from the Church.

Well, there are always exceptions. Luckily for the pede, Fr. Caetano lasted in our Church only for three years from 1956 to 1959.

The harvest festival is held every year in the month of August. In Anjuna it was always held on August 6 but now it is held on August 15, as per the wishes of parishioners, which also includes Hindu community.


The Mhars provided the traditional music bands in the village for the Hindu marriage
procession and religious festivities amongst Hindus and Catholics.

As we all know, during pre-liberation era, every village in Goa had a Parochial school attached to a Church, where village boys were taught music notes as well as basic schooling, which enabled them to read and write.

In the past, the formal teaching of music was very important, especially in the Parochial schools first established in 1545 by the Viceroy Dom João de Castro, and in the elementary schools first established in Goa in 1831 by decree of the Portuguese government. Access to these elementary schools was, however, very restricted, granted only to families of the Goan social elite.

For commoners the Church School known as Parochial School was part of the life. This
type of schools lasted till the end of the Portuguese rule.

Goan Parochial schools were called nurseries of music, musicians and agents of cultural synthesis of East and West. It is here, around five hundred years ago, that the Goan talent for music became acquainted with the concept of harmony.

Goans then made valuable contributions to the Church music as composers and
performers, and later developed their own secular music forms - the Mando being the
best known of them.

Besides Konkani in Romi or Roman script, students were also taught to read and write
Portuguese but more time was devoted for singing, music learning through Arte (Music
Book) and learning and playing the Violin.

Most of our yesteryear Tiatrists were the product of Parochial Schools in their respective villages.

To undergo schooling in Parochial schools, one had to be good if not very good in music either thru written Solfa Notes or Reading Solfa Notes or just through hearing.

In Parochial Schools, participants were taught how to sing, how to adhere to the timings and how to sing in different voices. A student schooled in Parochial school had to acquire mastery in singing if not in reading, writing and playing musical notes.

The Mhar community had a fine ear for music; so much so, some of the best Goan
musicians come from the community. They excelled in the brass section, especially the trumpet. They were also very good at the drums.

No wonder, whenever an Alvorada, a signal to wake up in the early morning, was to be
played, they were summoned and they did justice in playing it. The band mainly
comprised of a dhol-tax (drum) and a cymbal and two bugles.

Many of the yester year brass bands had players who belonged to the Mhar community.
Had it not been for them, the brass band would have vanished long ago.

Many villages had seasoned tiatrists who belonged to the Mhar community. It seems
music ran in their blood. The best comedians of the Konkani stage came from the Mhar

The Parochial school was run by a ‘mestre’ or a mistir (choirmaster) who had to be good in music. He was required to attend a “Concurso” – kind of music contest at the Music Institute in Old Goa, where he was trained and certified.

Many yester year mistir belonged to the Mhar community. Not only that we also had and still have outstanding writers who hail from the community.

We are grateful to the Mhar community for improvising Goan music and for taking it to world class heights. Had it not been for them, our music might have still been below standard!

Furthermore, every village had very good football players who hailed from the Mhar
community. They were tough and possessed excellent stamina just like the Brazilians and Africans!

Weren’t the Mhars a God-sent gift to Goa?

To be continued …………….


Domnic Fernandes
Anjuna, Goa
Mobile: 9420979201

© All rights reserved

Read the earlier parts of this MHAR series at:

Monday, November 9, 2009




"Poixe aslear aiz tujean kiteim viktem ghevnk zata" (Today, if you have money, you
can buy anything). The more money you spend, the better things you get.

Each Catholic parish now has a wedding hall. In the Anjuna Church compound, we have
CECILIA de GAMA PINTO MEMORIAL HALL, which was built in memory of the late Miss
Cecilia, daughter of the late Dr. Olencio de Gama Pinto.

In the past, there were no halls in the villages. Weddings were held either in
houses or in a mattov - it is erected on festive occasions, such as weddings or
religious ceremonies, to shelter large number of people who cannot be accommodated
in the residence of those who are celebrating the occasion or in the sacred

If a wedding celebration was held on the outside of a home, men from the
neighbourhood gathered and erected a "kazaracho mattov" (wedding pavilion) in front
of the house. Those that could afford gave a short contract to an individual.

In Gaumvaddy, we had Patris (Patricio/Patrick) who took such contracts. He belonged
to the Mhar community. He lived on a mini marodd, which was about three hundred
meters away from the main marodd. Other adjoining villages also had mattov
decorators who belonged to the Mhar community - they were simply the cheapest and
the best.

Patris used "maddanche vanxe" (coconut tree rafters) as pillars and "mani" (bamboo)
for the framework. He arranged a kind of skirting from the ground made of bamboos
and koddnnam, and covered it with a beautiful reddish cloth border.

He covered the top of the pavilion with long strips of white sheets, which were
stitched together. The process was called "mattvachea matheak fôr marop" (to cover
the top of the pavilion with the lining.)

The top border of the mattov was decorated with fringes; net curtains were hung all
around the pavilion, which were further decorated with bunches of balloons in
different colors and sizes.

In one of the corners of the "mattov", he erected a small stage for the brass band
from where the musicians played instruments like saxophone, trumpet, flute, clarinet
and drums and entertained the crowd.

The well-heeled also asked the decorator to decorate the house. The interior of the
house was decorated first. He stood on a chair or climbed a "nisovnn" (ladder),
hammered nails into the walls and fixed the thread from one corner to the other
according to the pattern of decoration.

The folds of cut crepe paper were then released into long strips and arranged in a
manner in which they would be used. Once he decorated the interior and exterior
(verandah/balcony) of the house, he began decoration of the "mattov."

Once paper decoration was over, he would begin to inflate balloons and install them
in bunches all over the mattov as well as in the interior and exterior of the house.

The pillars of the main entrance were decorated with halves of "chudd'ttam" (coconut
leaves). They were cut and separated in the middle and each half was twisted around
the rafters and tied with a sumb.

Leaves of fern plants were fixed to all the pillars in an "X" shape and thin strips
of crepe paper were thrown over them to enhance the décor. The decorator removed
"bendor" (parasite plants) from nearby mango trees, arranged them into round
bunches, hung them from the ceiling of the pavilion at different spots with a piece
of "sumb" and decorated them with fine strips of crepe paper in different colors.

In those days, Patris was quite a well-off person. Besides taking decoration
contracts and owning decoration material, he also owned over two dozen "gorvam"
(cattle,) out of which a dozen were "zotache padde" (oxen used to plough fields), as
he was a "zot-koxi" (cultivator of paddy fields); he did "kamot" - cultivated fields
for others. He sold cow milk and also worked as a laborer.

Patris loved to drink. He did not smoke but chewed "panancho dentto" (tobacco leaf
stem). Just like his father, Zuzulo (José,) he, too, was very good at playing the

He always went about in a kashtti with a singlet on top. When he attended a funeral,
he wore a coat over his bare body. As a matter of fact, he never missed any
funeral - not because he considered it his duty to transport a dead person to the
cemetery, but because he would get free drinks at the end of the funeral.

Whenever Patris ran short of money for drinks, he would remove his kashtti and use
it as a "khaddum" - a rope-ring used by a coconut-plucker around both his feet at
the ankles for climbing the tree. He would climb up a coconut tree, ensconce in the
cluster of fronds, remove tender coconuts/coconuts by twisting them, bite at the
husk (he had all teeth intact,) pull out little ends of the fiber, tie them into
pairs and fasten them to his kashtti. He then placed the bunch on his shoulder and
climbed down (one doesn't need a "khaddum" to climb down) with as many tender
coconuts as he could place on his shoulder - fastened to the kashtti. A clever
method to steal tender coconuts without throwing them on the ground, which would not
only break in the process but would also invite trouble for himself.

He went around in the village and sold the stolen addsoram to his customers, mostly
Gulfies. He would lure them thus: "Baba, addsoram ekdom borim; sarkim kulerachim
ré!" (Sir, tender coconuts are very good; fit to eat with a spoon!

Patris was a funny character. He was quite familiar with local medicines but this
one stole the limelight.

His sister, Santana, suddenly had a paralytic attack - her right side was totally
paralyzed. What do you think Patris did? He went into the kitchen, gathered dry
chilies, black pepper, cloves, cumin, etc. and ground them together with fenni on a
"mirim vanttpachi fatorn" (masala grinding stone.) He then took the paste and
applied it liberally on her body. The application of concoction set Santana's body
on fire and forced her to stretch her limbs in order to run away - the result:
Continuous struggle to fight against burning sensation on her body gradually did
away with the paralysis and she was back on her feet within a couple of days. Wasn't
that some treatment?

Sadly, Patris succumbed to drinks and died a pauper.

Weren't the Mhar an all-round community, multi-skilled?


The Mhar has come a long way - perhaps he was one of the first to get converted to
the Christianity.

When the Portuguese began to convert Goans, they introduced many attractive methods
to attract non-Christians to the Christian Church.

They built Churches and beautified their interior with attractive gothic-style
altars, paintings, etc.

A feast was celebrated by a "festacho prijent" (feast president), who spent lavishly
on decoration of the Church during the novenas, vespers and feast.

Fireworks, including "kombo ani kombi" (hen and rooster) at the end of a vespers,
was an added attraction because of which people made it a point to attend the
vespers however busy they might have been. On the feast day, too, fireworks added
worldly (not spiritual) colors to the celebrations.

Another attraction was the introduction of the brass band before and after the feast
mass. The band also played on the evening of the vespers.

The status of a feast president depended on his spending. If he hired a local band
to play alvorada early in the morning at 5:00 am, it meant the president was well
off. Some well-to-do feast presidents hired the brass band for eleven days - the
entire feast period!

Until around three decades ago, the Mhar community monopolised all decoration works
in Goan villages. The decorative skills were passed on from one generation to the
next among the Mhars.

Whenever a Church was decorated, parishioners mostly used crepe paper but they also
used bamboo baskets, which were prepared by none other than the Mhar community.

These baskets were hung below chandeliers and were filled with fresh/paper-made
flowers. Sometimes, bunches of parasite plants were simply placed into these baskets
and fine cut crepe paper was strewn on it.

These facts bear testimony of the Mhar existence in Goa since time immemorial.


Although the telephone was introduced in Goa in the 1940s, it was a rarity until the
late Sixties. Electricity arrived in villages in the early Seventies. Public
transportation hardly existed. In the absence of these facilities, communication was
a significant problem. Most messages were transmitted by word of mouth.

However, the last decade of the last century witnessed the communication networks
progress by leaps and bounds, which created wonders for humankind, due to which it
is now possible to transfer information momentarily between individuals located
thousands of miles away using satellite technology, via the Internet, mobile phones,
television, etc.

Presently, we cannot leave our home without a mobile or do without staying in touch
with our dear and near ones via e-mail. So, how did people in the past survive
without e-mail or telephones, and how did they communicate with each other?

While Church bells pealed five times daily and tolled for the dead, Church bells
were also used to inform parishioners of immediate problems like assault, theft,
illness of Church staff, etc.

The priest also conveyed messages to his parishioners through announcements made
during the Mass at the Church. He still does whenever Comunidade, Gram Sabha and
other important meetings take place in the village.

In Anjuna, very important announcements were posted on the Church bulletin board on
the wall besides the staircase leading to the Comunidade office. During the summer,
messages were affixed on the main doors of the Church.

Many hired the services of a pedo from the Mhar community to go around in the
village to announce a death in a family.

The individual walked the whole village with a "kampinn" (small bell) in his/her
hand, which he/she kept on ringing from one end of the village to the other
informing those who wanted to know as to who had died and on which day and time the
funeral would be held.

In Anjuna, it was mostly Idalgem (Idaline) or her husband Zunvlo (João) or his
brother Antongo (Antonio) or Severlem (Severine.)

Similarly, whenever Comunidade office arranged for "zonn"-related meetings, auction
of Comunidade fields or fruit bearing trees like mango tree (ambo rendak korunk),
and imminent visits of the Church and government authorities like the Governor,
health officials, etc., the services of a messenger from the Mhar community were

For Comunidade-related announcements, mostly two persons were hired - a male and a

In Anjuna, during our time, it was always Caru (Caridade) and his wife, Severlem
(Severine) from Tembi mini marodd. Caru carried a "dhol-tax or tombor" (kettle
drum), which he hung around his neck with a "sumbacho dôr" (coir rope) and went on
playing it to the following rhythm while he walked the village:


While Caru stopped beating the drum, his wife rang the "kampinn". People approached
and asked them what the "perganv" (announcement) was about to which they replied as
they were instructed by the authorities.

The messenger(s) halted at important places like the village Tintto, where people
gathered and he announced the message aloud.

They also carried a written announcement on a piece of paper, which they handed to
anyone who asked for it - mostly bhattkars and a few others, who were privileged to
read and write.

This mode was called "pergão" (announcement) derived from the Portuguese word

In Goa, whenever one repeats the same behavior/thing/story time and again, they say:
"Kitem re, sodanch tench reng-tte-tte-tteng vazoita!" (What man, you always play the
same reng-tte-tte-tteng rhythm!)

Comunidade office was and is still located in the Church premises. Peons/servants
employed in the Comunidade office belonged to the Mhar community - at least I did
not come across any other community taking up these posts - maybe because of their
(Mhar) affiliation with the Church.

So, how can we despise the Mhar community who were so instrumental in our lives?

To be continued ........


Domnic Fernandes
Anjuna, Goa
Mobile: 9420979201

All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009




No matter how loving a person - father, mother, brother, sister, wife, child, grandchild, etc. is, when he/she passes away, nobody is prepared to keep his/her body in the house for over 24 hours because of the stench it produces, unless, of course, the dead body is embalmed, but that practice, too, has been stopped; people now keep the dead bodies in a morgue – that there is no enough space in morgues is altogether another story.

Once a person was dead, people would go to Mhar vaddo and call one of their members
to clean the corpse and dress the dead. Usually, a couple would arrive. Such a person is now called an undertaker.

Before dressing the dead body, they’d place thick cloth padding at his/her orifices and secure it firmly with a “kashtti” (loin-cloth) so as to prevent oozing of fluids. As for the exterior openings, blood mostly oozes through the nose. This is stopped by placing cotton buds in both the nostrils.

The person also passed his/her hand over the dead person’s eyelids and closed them shut, as nobody likes to stare into a dead person’s eyes. If the eyelids are not closed immediately, it is difficult to close them afterwards.

Similarly, the chin is immediately pressed and held for a while in order to close the mouth. If the mouth keeps opening, a strip of cloth is tied to the chin and head. Dentures, if any, are fixed before the mouth is pressed or closed, as the whole body becomes stiff after some time.

The dead person is then dressed up. Infants are dressed in their baptismal clothes;
adolescents in their confirmation clothes, teenagers in colorful clothes, men mostly in a suit and women either in a vistid (dress) or a sari. Newly married women are dressed as brides and so are women who die at the first delivery of a child.

Nowadays, the above process is undertaken by an undertaker. In the past, a male or a
female from the Mhar community did it for us.

We now pay in thousands for a job that was done free of charge by the Mhar community
members. And what did we give the Mhars? Practically nothing! On the contrary, we
criticized and labeled them as ‘untouchables.’ Why? Just because they sacrificed
buffaloes to appease spirits of their ancestors and their demon deities and ate the flesh, including bones!

Today, anybody takes up the job of an undertaker but in the past it was mainly a Mhar’s job. They did not only bury Christians in cemeteries but they also prepared funeral pyres and conducted cremations for the Hindus


As soon as a person died, one of the relatives/neighbors/friends went out of the house, snatched a “chuddtti” (leaf of a palm tree) from a “kavoto” (young coconut tree,) separated the “vhir” (stalk of palm leaf) and measured the dead body.

A person was then dispatched to a coffin shop to buy a ready made “kaixa” (coffin made of wooden frame and covered with black cloth and gold color paper bordering) per the measurements, or he placed an urgent order for a special coffin if the dead person was extraordinarily tall or fat.

A white coffin was ordered for infants, adolescents, teenagers, spinster and bachelors.

In the olden days, in the absence of transportation, a person from the Mhar community was hired to carry the empty coffin from the shop to a dead person’s home. He carried it on his head and walked all the way from Mapusa to Anjuna.

A “kaixanv” (coffin made mostly of teak wood) needed two persons to carry it due to its weight. As the person(s) walked with a “kaixa/kaixanv” on his/their head, people looked at him/them and said: “Konn tori babddo melo astolo!” (Pity, somebody must have died!)
Most coffin shops in Mapusa were located on the road starting from Benão shop and
ended behind the cemetery.

Speaking of coffin carrying, I remember an incident that took place on a highway around 40 years ago.

Bautist (Baptist) was walking on the road with a coffin on his head when it suddenly
started raining. One of the truck drivers stopped his truck and asked him to get in the back of the truck. Since it was raining, Bautist decided to sleep in the coffin with the cover on.

After a while, some laborers waved at the truck driver, who stopped his truck and asked them to get in the back of the truck as well.

Bautist, who had been sleeping in the coffin, wanted to know if the rain had stopped. So, he slowly lifted the cover of the coffin from inside and stretched out his hand to feel the rain. The moment the laborers saw his hand come out from the coffin, they screamed and jumped out of the running truck into the paddy fields and broke their limbs; one person died on the spot!

Thank God it was rainy season; the fields were full of water and the ground was soft, otherwise there would have been more deaths and serious injuries. Bautist is still alive to tell the tale!


In the olden days, palm fenni liquor was served at the end of a funeral.

A male was hired to carry a “panttli bhor soro” (basketful of liquor,) filled in bottles which were sealed with a “katheachi guddi” (coconut husk cork,) including bottles to be given away for a confre, which needed three persons to carry it - one person to carry the main cross and two persons to carry candle holders. A quota of one bottle liquor was reserved for the pede.

The person walked with a panttli on his head behind the funeral procession.

In Anjuna, for people on the south east side of the Church, once the procession reached the foot of the present staircase leading to the Miraculous Holy Cross, the person carrying the liquor would stop “odda pondak” (under the banyan tree) and he would wait there until the burial was over.

Most men stopped at the “oddachem zhadd ” on their way back home from the cemetery,
had “ek vo don kotteo bhor” (one/two coconut shell-full) fenni and walked away.

In Goa, it is customary to either throw out full contents of the first “kals” (cup,) or part contents of the kals. Some just dip middle finger in a cup and sprinkle the liquor by flicking it thrice. This is done in honor of the departed souls!

Some drink to their hearts’ content; get tight within no time and begin to ‘measure the road!’ Sometimes they begin to swear at the dead person!

“Confre” carriers also joined in for free drinks and collected their quota of free liquor bottle. This traditional practice has been discontinued now.

Who do you think was hired to carry fenni at a funeral? It was one from the Mhar


In the past, a dead person’s family offered him/her at least three masses in the first year – (1) seventh day mass, (2) month’s mind mass, and (3) the first death anniversary mass.

Every coffin has a metal plate on its lid to indicate a dead person’s name, date of birth and death.

As soon as the dead body is brought out of the Church, his/her face is covered with a white handkerchief. Before the lid is placed on the coffin, one of the family
members/friends makes sure that the metal plate is detached from the lid along with
the crucifix and metal wreath and brought home.

On the eve of the seventh day mass, the metal crucifix with dates is fixed on a wooden cross, which is painted in black – the higher the class of the deceased, the better crafted a cross would be. Nowadays, wooden crosses have been replaced by steel ones. The cross was then handed to a Church pedo with a request to plant it at the head of the deceased person’s grave.

The pedo was asked to decorate the grave. He would gather some mud on top of the
grave and beat it with a “pettnnem” (pounder) so as to give it a firm shape. He then
placed a “kapa” (black piece of cloth with white cross painted in its middle) on the grave.
He decorated the grave with flowers and also planted candles all around, which he lit before the priest and crowd entered the cemetery for blessing of the grave.

Of course, people gave tips to the pede for doing the job but weren’t they sweet to do that job for us in the cemetery?

Today, people decorate a grave with the help of relatives/friends. Does that make them pede?


In the olden days, a priest carried Holy Communion to the sick/infirm on foot or in a machila (palanquin). He placed the Host in a container, held it in his hands and covered the sacred vessel with a Benediction Veil also known as the Humeral Veil.

The sacristan who accompanied the priest carried a little “kampinn” (bell), which he rang every now and then to signal the priest’s arrival with the Holy Communion.

When people noticed a priest was approaching them with Holy Communion, they
immediately knelt down and bowed in respect. We don’t see this kind of respect these

The pedo rang the Church bell as soon as a priest left the Church. He then climbed down the stairs hurriedly and joined the other three pede to carry the priest in a palanquin, which some considered as slavery.

When palanquin carrying was discontinued, the night-duty pedo still accompanied the
priest at night.


The Sacrament of the Infirm is for someone who is sick, old, suffers from mental illness, someone having to undergo a major surgical procedure, or someone who feels they would benefit from it. Anointing of the sick is a sacrament of healing. In it a priest says special prayers and anoints the sick with oil blessed specifically for that purpose. This Sacrament can be repeated many times.

The anointing of the sick can be administered to any member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason begins to be in danger by reason of illness or old age. A new illness or a worsening of health enables a person to receive the sacrament a further time

In the olden days, as soon as a priest left the Church on foot or in a machila to administer the last rites to an individual, the pedo rang the Church bell at which people uttered:

“Padr Vigar/Padr Kur konnank tori sontesanv ghevn bhair sorlo astolo; Devan taka
mornantlo vattanvcho vo tannem prann soddlo zalear tachea othmeank sorginchem raj
favo zanvchem.” (The Parish Priest/Curate must have left the Church with the Sacrament of the Infirm; may God save him/her from death or if he/she is dead, may his/her soul rest in peace.)

In those days, people approached the Church any time even after midnight - 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and the priest was ever ready to administer the last rites. Nowadays, despite having transportation at their disposal neither the parish priest nor the curate has the time to give the last sacrament to the dying!

Weren’t the Mhars God-sent people to remind us to pray for the weak and the dead?

To be continued …………….


Domnic Fernandes
Anjuna, Goa
Mobile: 9420979201

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