It would seem like there is a feast or a festival to be celebrated almost every month in Goa. Vasco recently celebrated its Damodar Saptah feast in the Damodar temple. While the temple festivities are done, stalls put up, selling wares are still there and probably will be for the next couple of weeks. Goa also recently celebrated the feast of Mother Mary’s ascension to heaven on the same day as Independence Day. And most recently, the pretty village of Curtorim celebrated the Handi Khuris feast.
Devotees gather by the thousands
The Handi Khuris feast or Khandi Khuris, another popular name for it is celebrated annually on 20th April. In English, Handi Khuris means (feast of the Cross near the sluice gate). The Handi Khuris feast is also associated with the harvest and has been celebrated for centuries in Curtorim. In fact, thousands of devotees make their way to the granary of Salcete, namely Curtorim, especially for the feast.
It is believed that the Handi Khuris has the power to grant miracles. Therefore devotees gather together on the feast day and stand in a queue to offer prayers and place flowers on the cross at the sluice gate. Devotees turn up at the crack of dawn and the queue is so long that they are there till late at night.
These devotees are specifically from the ‘xetkar’ (farmers) community. As a committee member of the Khandi Khuris chapel said, “Devotees throng to venerate this miraculous ‘khuris’ with their deep faith and make their respective ‘angvonn’ (vows) seeking that they be cured of their various ailments, while some seek favors such as employment, children, etc. When these requests are fulfilled, the grateful beneficiaries offer free food to the thousands of other devotees who arrive from various parts of Goa.”
Handi Khuris feast is celebrated in all seriousness
With each vow made, the thatched leaves placed at the foot of the cross are folded. It’s one fold for each vow made which is done by the farmers that serve as volunteers for this auspicious feast.
An important point to note when talking about the Handi Khuris feast is that the fields surround the bandh or sluice gate are never left barren. In fact, the donations offered by devotees go a long way in helping the farmers to ensure that the fields are always cultivated no matter what. Farmers that do not cultivate the fields are often penalized as well.
This year, the feast was celebrated in the same way as in previous years. The first mass was celebrated early in the morning at St. Rita’s Church in Maina-Curtorim, with more services following throughout the day at specific times. After each mass, people gathered to pay their respects and make their vows to this miraculous ‘khuris’. Food is always plenty at this feast and anything that is leftover doesn’t go to waste. It is put into bags and taken to orphanages and old age homes in and around Margao to be distributed.