Quatercentenary Celebrations: O L of Remedios

Erected in 1607 as a Chapel by Captain Rue de Mello de Sampayo, Governor of Daman, it became a parish church on 9th March 1675 when the Confraternity of Our Lady of Remedios was formed.

The yearlong celebration to mark the 400th year of the Church of Our Lady of Remedios, Big Daman, took off with pomp and solemnity on New Year’s Day.

Parishioners from nine zones, each headed by a leader bearing a white banderole with the insignia of the zone’s patron saint, made their way in processions from different points across the city, finally converging on the church.

As if on cue, the rays of a golden sunset cast a ruddy glow on the façade of the church. 14 priests concelebrated a high mass to the refrains of beautiful Portuguese hymns.

A cultural program followed the Mass, showcasing Portuguese folk dance, traditional fare in this former Portuguese colony on the western coast of India.

‘Remedios’ is ‘remedies’ in Portuguese and the locals – the fisher folk especially – pay homage to the Blessed Mother. Legend has it that the original statue of the baby Jesus that she held in her arms was taken away to Rome and substituted with a new one.

What is outstanding about this church as well as other churches and chapels in Daman is not the Manueline architecture but the beautiful gilded wood carvings that adorn the altars, reredos and ceiling and the life-like statues which are also carved from wood. Though these have withstood the ultimate test of time – 40o cycles of the southwest monsoons – they look newer than modern woodwork that has seen but just a couple of monsoons!

A casual glance out of a window, or from higher ground or even a view from the ground up or for that matter, from any vantage point in this centuries-old city, will more often than not, be met with either the image of an equally ancient church or chapel or deity.

A copy of the detailed guide to the churches, chapels, grottos and crosses of Daman titled, “Where Angels Tread” can be obtained from the Parish House, Parish of Bom Jesus, Fort, Daman.

Copyright © 2007 Noël Gama

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