Today's Featured Essays

The first Goan ICS Officer

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Joseph Anthony Vaz, the first Goan Officer of the prestigious Indian Civil Service (ICS), had roots in Saligao.  Son of Antonio Caetano Vaz from Donvaddo in Saligao, Goa, Joseph was born in Karachi on 22 April 1875. He was the first member of the Goan community and among the earliest to pass the Indian Civil Service examination. Continue reading The first Goan ICS Officer

Tilamola and Fr. Erlick de Souza of Saligao

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Twelve years ago, on 12 February 2000, Goa’s then Archbishop-Patriarch Dr. Raul Nicolau Gonsalves blessed another new church in Goa. This time it was in south Goa at Tilamola in Quepem taluka. I was there to witness the three-hour-long ceremony at this new Goa church, which was both solemn and spiritually very enriching. The huge modern church was filled to its capacity and the faithful took part in the ceremonies with due respect and attention. Continue reading Tilamola and Fr. Erlick de Souza of Saligao

Goa's worst ferry disaster

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

On Friday the 13th of January 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship hit a rock and partially capsized off the coast of Italy. Of the 4252 passengers and crew aboard, 17 died and 16 are still unaccounted for as of yesterday, 30th January. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families of the victims and those still missing in the Costa Concordia accident, and especially for Russel Rebello from Mumbai, a steward on the ill-fated Costa Concordia, and the only Indian still unaccounted for among the 203 Indians that were on board the cruise ship (202 Indian crew members and 1 Indian passenger). Continue reading Goa’s worst ferry disaster

The Goan violinist in Ceylon

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

In days gone by, Saligao was reputed all over Goa as a nursery of budding Goan musicians. In the 1940s and 50s when I was a young lad, almost every household in Saligao had at least one young member learning music at school, and many took additional private lessons. The violin was a very popular musical instrument then, as was the piano. Continue reading The Goan violinist in Ceylon

In the footsteps of Blessed Joseph Vaz

The churches of Goa as well as Sri Lanka will celebrate on 16th January the feast of Blessed Joseph Vaz, the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Goa & Daman, and Apostle of Sri Lanka. This day will mark the 301st anniversary of his death. Joseph Vaz was born on 21 April 1651 in Benaulim, Goa, and died on 16 January 1711 in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Continue reading In the footsteps of Blessed Joseph Vaz

The fiery priest

by Mel D’Souza

As young lads growing up in the village of Saligao in Goa back in the 1950s, my friends and I were always on our best behaviour whenever we attended a religious service in the Saligao Church or any of the several chapels in the village.

Talking in church was considered bad manners, and the congregation respected that rule except for a few young adults and crusty old-timers who attended Mass from the choir loft in the back of the nave, away from the disapproving womenfolk downstairs. The women conversed discreetly with their eyes, their pouted lips twitching in silent prayer, as they’d flick an eyebrow to draw the attention of a fellow-worshiper to another female member of the congregation in the Saligao Church who, for example, would have been revealing a lot more than the gold crucifix hanging from the chain around her neck.

My young friends and I would follow the service in the Saligao Church of Mae de Deus from the transept, a step down from the chancel. If we ever whispered to each other or, heaven forbid, chuckled for any reason, we’d be admonished with a sharp cut’to (‘koot-taw’), knuckle of the middle finger, on the back of our head by an elder.

But there was one incident that had all the kids chuckling, and it was not followed by the cut’to. It all happened during the vespers of the Feast of St. Anne, at the chapel in the ward of Mudd’davaddi.

The vespers was a solemn service held on Saturday evening on the eve of the feast day, and it concluded the preceding week of salves. The salve was a service held inside St Anne’s Chapel followed by a display of fireworks outside, and a live band to entertain the congregation against a backdrop of the chapel’s facade illuminated with coloured paper lanterns.

Priests would be invited from adjoining villages to add pomp to the service. They’d stand in two rows along the sides of the chancel, facing each other, each with a breviary and lit candle in their hands, and they’d chant psalms in Latin. The psalms were lengthy, and the priests would often raise their heads to ease the strain on their necks caused by looking down at the breviary.

On this occasion, one of the invited priests had a grey beard that came down to just above his belly. It wasn’t a very thick beard, but it was stiff, making it appear as if it had been starched. Whenever he moved his head, the beard maintained its alignment with the profile of his face.

Now, during the chanting of the psalms, this priest did what every other priest would do. He raised his head to ease the stiffness in his neck, except that the movement swung his stiff beard forward to make its tip come into contact with the flame of the candle. A whiff of burning hair made the priest look down, only to see a small sizzling flame at the tip of his beard. Instinctively, he slapped his beard against his chest with the flat of his hand, smothered the flame instantly, and continued nonchalantly with the psalm. But not before my buddies and I had seen what had happened.

We couldn’t help chuckling, but when we looked over our shoulder in expectation of the customary cut’to, there were none coming; the adults had also witnessed the episode and were having an uncontrollable chuckle, too.

As for the priest, I think the first thing he would have done on returning home was to shorten his beard to prevent himself from being fired up again with religious zeal!

More trailblazers from Saligao

When a villager from Saligao reaches an honourable and outstandingly high position in his profession, social life or any field of activity, he undoubtedly brings credit and renown to himself. But beyond that, the village of Saligao can with justifiable pride bask in the sunshine of his achievement.  It further gives the younger generation of the village youth and the youth of Goa a shot in the arm to emulate and even surpass the records created. Continue reading More trailblazers from Saligao

Third Anniversary of Saligao Serenade

Saligao Serenade — the website focusing on the history, traditions, heritage, culture, folklore and people of Saligao, the colourful Goan village in Bardez, Goa – is three years old today.

On this third anniversary, Saligao Serenade sports a new avatar, with layout and design revamped for better visual appeal and readability.

Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas has written so much on Saligao and Goa over the last three years, and his essays are timeless treasures that can be read again and again without losing any of their sheen. The new design of the website endeavours to regularly pull out these gems from the archives and periodically highlight the best essays featured over the years. Continue reading Third Anniversary of Saligao Serenade

True Values Foundation felicitates Fr. Nascimento

Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas was recently felicitated along with three other eminent Goans  at the first anniversary celebrations of  Margao-based True Values Foundation, an NGO dedicated to the welfare of senior citizens.

Fr. Nascimento received a plaque and citation and was adorned with a shawl at the hands of Eduardo Faleiro, the Commissioner for NRI affairs for the Government of Goa. Chief Minister of Goa, Digambar Kamat, was also present as Chief Guest for the function. Continue reading True Values Foundation felicitates Fr. Nascimento

The Bishop of Bassein in Burma

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

“I have always placed my life in the hands of God and acknowledged His loving hands in shaping the events of my life.”  This sums up the absolute trust in Divine Providence of the 67-year-old Goan Bishop of Bassein in Burma (now Myanmar) whose life I am briefly describing here.

His Lordship Most Rev. Joseph Valerius Sequeira was from Sequeira-vaddo of Arrarim de Saligao, Goa. He was born in Zanzibar on 22nd February 1917.  His parents were Joaquim Valerian Sequeira and Ismania Francisca Sequeira originally from Saligao.  His parents migrated to Burma from Zanzibar in 1920 taking the infant Valerius along with them to Rangoon. Valerius was the youngest of five children of his parents, four of whom resided in Bombay. He was the brother-in-law of the late Richard Durante, one of the founders and a past president of the Saligao Union, Bombay who rendered yeoman’s service to the Union which has since been renamed as Saligao Association, Mumbai. Continue reading The Bishop of Bassein in Burma